Chicago Sets Example for the Nation by Reducing High School Smoking to Record Low

Statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

Apr. 16 2014

WASHINGTON, DC – Chicago has set an example for other cities and the nation as a whole by reducing its high school smoking rate to a record low of just 10.7 percent in 2013, representing a decline of over 20 percent since 2011 and nearly 60 percent since 2001. Chicago’s high school smoking rate is well below the national rate, which was 18.1 percent in 2011 (data are from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey. New national data for 2013 are expected to be released later this year).

Chicago has succeeded by aggressively implementing proven strategies to reduce tobacco use, including the highest combined state-local cigarette tax in the nation at $6.16 per pack, a comprehensive smoke-free air law that recently was extended to electronic cigarettes, and strong public education campaigns. Chicago also recently banned the sale of flavored tobacco products near schools and launched an ad campaign aimed at reducing youth use of menthol-flavored cigarettes.

We applaud Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair for their strong leadership in working to protect Chicago’s kids and win the fight against tobacco use, the nation’s number one cause of preventable death. They have made Chicago a healthier city and a national leader in the fight against tobacco.

Chicago's remarkable progress demonstrates to other cities and the entire nation that we can drive down smoking rates far below current levels by effectively implementing evidence-based solutions. By fully implementing these strategies, every city and state can dramatically cut smoking rates and put the United States on course to create a tobacco-free generation and end the tobacco epidemic for good. We urge other cities and states to follow Chicago’s lead.

 

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