On Friday, the Chicago City Council Health Committee passed a revised version of its tobacco flavor ban that would prohibit the sale of flavored vapor products, with an exception for menthol and mint flavored combustible cigarettes. The proposal will receive consideration by the full council this Wednesday.
In an effort to continue public health gains, NTU has long supported tobacco harm reduction and market-driven solutions that ultimately help people reduce or eliminate their dependency on cigarettes. The availability of new and innovative flavored products has undeniably resulted in fewer Americans smoking traditional cigarettes.
This Chicago ordinance completely disregards the benefits vapor products provide; most notably, vapor products help smokers avoid traditional combustible cigarettes, which contain toxins and dangerous chemicals. Researchers can say with confidence that vapor products are safer than traditional cigarettes and provide smokers with a way to consume nicotine in a safer manner, which is a significant benefit to public health.
NTU also has concerns that implementation of this ordinance will drive sales of these types of tobacco products to other municipalities, resulting in adverse effects on struggling businesses located in Chicago. Retailers located in nearby suburbs will undoubtedly have a government-imposed advantage over competitors who, in some circumstances, could be located just across the street.
On a final note, given the city’s lengthy history of fiscal mismanagement, it would seem counterproductive, particularly during a pandemic, to support the ban of a product that lessens city revenue while potentially creating a black market of unregulated and unsafe tobacco products. NTU has long fought for individual freedom and free market policies, having a historical understanding that prohibitions, such as the one being considered, are seldom successful.