Emanuel urged to ban smoking in parks, tax other tobacco products
Mayor Rahm Emanuel was urged Monday to ban smoking in Chicago parks and public housing and slap the nation’s highest cigarette tax on “other tobacco products” to exacerbate a record decline in smoking.
“Chicago’s beaches and playlots are smoke-free, but the parks themselves are not,” Joel Africk, president and CEO of the Respiratory Health Association, told a City Hall news conference called to kick off Smoking Cessation Awareness Week.
“New York City has smoke-free parks. Boston has smoke-free parks. The children of Chicago deserve smoke-free parks as well. If there are fewer outdoor locations where one can smoke, people who are trying to quit are going to be successful. There’s also less litter when you make your parks smoke-free.”
Chicago already levies a tax of $7.17 per pack on cigarettes, and Janet Williams, co-chair of the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco, urged the mayor to slap that same tax on “other tobacco products,” including full-sized and mini-cigars, cigarillos, e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco.
“That’s clearly the way the industry has been moving. They’re pushing for dual use. They want these products. We’re not just talking about that gummy tobacco stuff that you stick into your lip. They have other products to deliver nicotine, such as e-cigarettes, which the tobacco manufacturers are now taking over,” Williams said.
Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair refused to comment on the demand for smoke-free parks and multi-unit public housing and a tax on other tobacco products.
“We are working on a legislative agenda. We’re still working on that. Today is really about driving people to quit smoking,” he said.
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