Mayor Emanuel Introduces New Tobacco Ordinance

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In an effort to reduce youth smoking among high school students, Mayor Emanuel introduced a reform package. Measures include regulating the price and quantity by which select tobacco products are sold, and raising the minimum age to purchase both cigarettes and other smokeless products being marketed toward youth and young adults from 18 to 21. Four out of five smokers start the habit before the age of 21, and that the 18-20 age range is a critical time for new smokers.

Why the Ordinance Is Critical

  • Youth smoking in Chicago is down, but youth and young adults still have access to cigarettes and a wide variety of cheap tobacco products.
  • Chicago’s tobacco reform package takes aim at the tobacco industry’s continued efforts to hook young people and represents a monumental effort to continue Chicago’s progress to reduce tobacco use.
  • We need to keep young people from taking up a deadly habit. These innovative solutions will help us meet Mayor Emanuel’s goal of creating the first tobacco free generation.

More than $6 million of the revenue generated by the tax will support a new universal freshman orientation program that will provide nearly 20,000 incoming 9th graders at district-run high schools with a week of programming that will help them form good study habits, learn the ropes at their new school, and get to know their teachers and peers. Universal high school orientation is part of a larger menu of efforts to help Chicago Public Schools (CPS) reach a graduation rate of 85 percent by 2019—a commitment made by Mayor Emanuel in his second term.

The new initiative will also include a targeted, summer program for incoming eighth graders identified in partnership with the University of Chicago Urban Lab as being at greatest risk of dropping out. These students would benefit from programming designed to address academic issues – with a focus on math and literacy – and provide them with the studying and emotional readiness skills to succeed in eighth grade and high school.

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