Despite the support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the plan to regulate popular electronic cigarettes in Chicago in the same manner as tobacco products are, wasn’t adopted by the City Council due to increased opposition earlier this week.
However, the mayor did win a plan to keep flavored cigarettes, including menthol, farther away from schools. Flavored cigarettes can no longer be sold within 500 feet of schools under a measure Emanuel backs as a way to stop children from taking up smoking. Currently, flavored tobacco products can be sold no closer than 100 feet away from Chicago schools.
While aldermen at a joint meeting of the Finance and Health committees raised few concerns about stiffer regulations for menthols and sent the proposal to the full City Council, several raised opposition against a plan to treat e-cigarettes like conventional cigarettes that emit harmful second-hand smoke.
The e-cigarette measure got deferred even with testimony from Dr. Bechara Choucair, Emanuel’s commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, urging aldermen to pass it.
If passed, the ordinance would change the city code’s definition of “smoking” to include using an electronic smoking device and would require stores selling e-cigarettes to follow the same rules as those selling tobacco products, which include sales to minors, as well as the ban of e-cigarettes in public places like in restaurants and bars.
Last week, Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance regulating e-cigarettes last week and New York City is considering a measure of it’s own.
Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5th, also stated that it isn’t fair to come down hard on the product so soon after Emanuel’s budget bumped up the taxes on sales of conventional cigarettes in Chicago, to the highest in the nation. “You can’t on one day say ‘We’re going to tax the heck out of cigarettes,’ and then the next day, ‘Well, for those who can’t afford them but decide you want to smoke vapor, we’re going to decide you can’t do that , either,’” she said.