CHICAGO — Flavored vaping products are now banned in Chicago.
City Council voted overwhelmingly in support of the ban Wednesday, 46-4, with supporters — including Mayor Lori Lightfoot — saying it will help save lives and keep young people from becoming addicted to tobacco.
The new rules prohibit sales of liquid nicotine products that create the taste or aroma of menthol, mint, wintergreen, chocolate, vanilla, candy or dessert.
Lightfoot and others said flavored products appeal to young people, who mistakenly think they’re safer than other products. That’s a concern as smoking has fallen among young people in Chicago, but vaping is on the rise and can serve as a gateway, according to a Mayor’s Office press release.
Aldermen debated the measure during the meeting. Proponents of the ban noted Black people are more likely to use tobacco products, adding to the life expectancy gap and racial disparities among Black and white Chicagoans.
And Ald. Matt O’Shea (49th), a supporter of the ban, said those who vape are more likely to face serious illness from coronavirus.
Only a few alderman spoke up against the ban, saying they fear it will lead to people simply going to the suburbs to buy flavored vaping products — and Chicago needs tax dollars from such sales as it faces a $1.2 billion budget shortfall next year.
But supporters of the ban said the city should not trade dollars for lives, saying the ban now could protect many young Chicagoans.
During an emotional plea, Lightfoot said she watched her father smoke throughout her childhood — and he only stopped when he could no longer breathe well. She watched him die, slowly and painfully, due to health issues from smoking, she said.
The mayor also said her daughter has seen fellow children vaping at school, showing how the tobacco industry is trying to get children addicted to tobacco.
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