Jan. 15 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – We applaud the Chicago City Council for voting today to include electronic cigarettes in the city’s Clean Indoor Air law. This legislation will further the fundamental purpose of the law – to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air in workplaces and public places.
We thank Alderman Edward M. Burke and Alderman Will Burns for sponsoring this legislation. We also applaud Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair for their leadership in protecting Chicago’s kids from tobacco addiction. This legislation builds on Chicago's strong and innovative efforts to fight tobacco use, which is the number one cause of preventable death in the United States and around the world.
Chicago’s comprehensive smoke-free law covering all restaurants, bars and other workplaces, has been in effect since 2008. Today’s vote will prevent e-cigarettes from undermining this important public health protection.
E-cigarettes currently are not regulated; manufacturers are not required to disclose what is in them or in their emissions; and there are important gaps in our knowledge of their impact on the health of users and non-users. Nicotine and other toxic substances have been found in exhaled e-cigarette vapor. Nicotine may not cause cancer, but delivered in uncontrolled, unregulated quantities, it is harmful, especially to young people whose brains are still developing. Several of the products include warnings that inhaled nicotine is “very toxic.” Given the concerns about the health impact of e-cigarettes, it only makes sense to prevent exposure by non-users in workplaces and public places.
Furthermore, including e-cigarettes in the Clean Indoor Air law will also simplify enforcement of the law and avoid confusion about where smoking is and isn’t allowed. Businesses and city officials will not have to distinguish between e-cigarettes and conventional cigarettes. Those wishing to use e-cigarettes will simply have to step outside, just as cigarette smokers do.
Smoke-free laws also create an environment that encourages smokers to quit and discourages kids from smoking. This legislation will preserve these benefits.
In addition to including e-cigarettes in the Clean Indoor Air law, the Chicago legislation will also prohibit the sale of these products to minors and require that they be kept behind the counter in stores, out of the reach of kids. E-cigarette use among U.S. youth doubled from 2011 to 2012, according to a CDC survey. This jump in youth e-cigarette use comes as marketing for e-cigarettes has skyrocketed and increasingly uses the same slick tactics long used to market regular cigarettes to kids. While cigarette manufacturers can no longer sponsor auto racing or other events or use candy and fruit flavors, e-cigarette manufacturers are doing both. This explosion of e-cigarette marketing threatens to undo decades of efforts to deglamorize smoking to kids. This new law is a sensible step in regulating these products to protect children and other non-users.
This legislation continues Chicago’s leadership in the fight to reduce tobacco use. The city’s efforts include a high tobacco tax; the Clean Indoor Air law; the new ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol-flavored cigarettes, within 500 feet of schools; and a newly launched ad campaign aimed at reducing use of menthol-flavored cigarettes by youth. We urge other cities and states to follow Chicago’s lead.