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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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City Council introduces ban on flavored tobacco products

Daily file photo by Alison Albelda
City Council voted Monday to introduce a ban on flavored tobacco products.

City Council voted 6-3 to introduce a ban on the sale of flavored tobacco products Monday.

According to Ald. Devon Reid (8th), the policy aims to prevent Evanston youth from accessing the addictive products and looks to improve overall public health.

“Health officials at the federal level have made clear the impacts of menthol cigarette smoking, tobacco smoking and, particularly, the negative impact for the Black community,” Reid said.

Reid initially recommended a ban on flavored tobacco vape and menthol products in June. The Human Services Committee recommended expanding the ban to all flavored tobacco products but voted in October to pass the ordinance on to City Council focusing only on flavored e-cigarettes and menthol products. 

On Monday, Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) moved a substitute amendment to introduce a comprehensive ban on all flavored tobacco products. 

Several community members weighed in on the proposed ordinance during public comment.

Don Zeigler, chair of the Evanston Health Advisory Council, spoke in support of a comprehensive ban, citing Evanston’s historic leadership in tobacco legislation.

Evanston passed the “Tobacco 21” ordinance in 2014 and became the first city in Illinois to raise the purchasing age for tobacco from 18 to 21. Illinois followed Evanston’s lead in 2019 and enacted a statewide version of the law.

“We did it first, then 35 other communities followed before the state finally did,” Zeigler said. “If we don’t take the lead now, who will?”

Dr. Emma Daisy, the parent of a student in Evanston/Skokie School District 65, echoed Zeigler’s sentiments. She cited a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study which found that more than 80% of high school students and nearly 75% of middle school students who reported using tobacco products used a flavored one in the past 30 days.

David Spross, executive director of the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, said the proposed ban would harm local tobacco retailers.

“It is no secret that if this ban is passed, these responsible and licensed retailers will experience a negative economic impact,” Spross said. “Banning menthol tobacco products and flavored e-cigarettes put a significant amount of retail sales at risk.”

Spross added that a ban on these products could push people to buy flavored tobacco products from other sources –– including the illegal market.

Ald. Thomas Suffredin (6th) also questioned the effectiveness of the potential ban.

“I think that we’re making a mistake in assuming that adults need us to tell them what legal products they can consume or purchase in the city of Evanston,” Suffredin said.

Reid noted the ban would effectively eliminate any tax revenue from the sale of e-cigarettes, estimated to measure between $84,000 and $112,000, according to the city’s Department of Health and Human Services.

“I prioritize public health over our finances,” Reid said. “But I think we should be aware of what that impact is and account for that in our budgeting practices.”

The city released its proposed $449 million budget for 2024 earlier this month and allowed residents to voice their thoughts on the budget earlier on in Monday’s meeting.

Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) also supported the motion and said his decision was an easy one to make.

“Smoking is bad. We know it’s bad,” Nieuwsma said. “We’re going to often be asked to make judgment calls to choose between conflicting goals, and in this case, the choice is not that difficult for me.”

Ultimately, Suffredin, Ald. Krissie Harris (2nd) and Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) voted against introducing the ordinance.

The item will be on the agenda for action at the next meeting –– Nov. 13.

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Twitter: @emmarichman_

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