Chicago considering ‘all-out ban’ on e-cigarettes
Chicago City Council will consider a proposal that would ban electronic cigarettes citywide amid a nationwide spike in deaths and illnesses linked to the devices.
Chicago City Council will soon vote on a proposal to ban all electronic cigarettes and related accessories, such as liquid cartridges for refilling.
Chicago Ald. Raymond Lopez, 15th Ward, announced plans at a Sept. 18 City Council meeting to introduce a proposed ordinance for an “all-out ban” on all vaping products, according to NBC Chicago. The ordinance would outlaw “selling, buying and trading” e-cigarettes and related products; those who violate the ban would risk a $5,000 fine.
Lopez has said that as a smoker himself, he understands the dangers of flavored nicotine products. “As someone who has smoked since he was 16 years old, I know very well the dangers of pushing this on young children,” Lopez told the Chicago Tribune.
Lopez’s proposal would ban all – not just flavored – vaping products. “Banning the flavors isn’t going to be enough,” Lopez said, according to NBC Chicago.
The alderman suggested companies that produce alternative nicotine products are trying to get young people “hooked on smoking,” according to NBC Chicago. “We must nip it in the bud now so we’re not facing another generation of people like myself who wind up getting addicted to cigarettes,” he said.
Chicago stores that border the suburbs could stand to lose business under the ordinance, as residents travel across the city borderline to buy e-cigarettes. Lopez has acknowledged that risk but said the potential health benefits of the ban outweigh those concerns.
Public health officials have not yet identified the cause of vaping-related illnesses. The Food and Drug Administration said many of the vaping fluids linked to the recent spike in illnesses contained THC and vitamin E acetate, substances not intended for e-cigarette use. A study by the New England Journal of Medicine found 83% of those hospitalized in Illinois and Wisconsin reported using e-cigarette devices to consume substances purchased illegally on the black market, while 17% reported using nicotine products intended for the devices.
Since June, at least 380 people nationwide have been hospitalized for respiratory issues and seven have died after using e-cigarette devices, according to the Center for Disease Control. The Illinois Department of Public Health said the median age of those victimized by the epidemic is 19 years old.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has voiced support for banning flavored e-cigarette products but has stopped short of calling for a citywide ban on vaping altogether. Lightfoot called flavored tobacco a “gateway” for getting kids hooked on nicotine.
Chicago Public Schools have already banned vaping in school and have taken steps to educate students and parents about possible risks associated with e-cigarettes.
Chicago City Council passed an e-cigarette tax hike in October 2018, citing public health concerns. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel at the time said the ordinance was aimed at “supporting youth to make healthy choices — and protecting residents from tobacco.”