Tobacco 21 a Key Strategy in Reducing Youth Smoking
On Thursday, January 24, 2019, the Cook County Board of Commissioners passed Tobacco 21, legislation that will substantially reduce youth smoking by raising the tobacco purchase age to 21 from 18. The policy, often referred to as Tobacco 21, aims to reduce youth smoking by removing legal tobacco purchasers from teen social circles.
A cornerstone of RHA’s work has been to reduce the toll of tobacco on our communities, particularly among our youth. Growing support for Tobacco 21 had previously led to thirty communities across the state adopting local laws to raise the tobacco purchase age, including over ten communities in Cook County. Sixty percent of Cook County residents were already covered by local Tobacco 21 ordinances. A recent study, conducted by FAKO Research & Strategies, shows that 7 out of 10 adults in suburban Cook County support Tobacco 21, including 70 percent of current smokers.
“We’re thrilled to see Cook County taking positive steps to keep young people from a lifetime of nicotine addiction,” says Joel Africk, president and CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “We’ve seen Tobacco 21 laws work to reduce teen smoking in numerous communities and look forward to a happier, healthier Cook County in the years to come.”
Tobacco 21 laws are important because 95 percent of adult smokers take up the habit before they turn 21. In suburban Cook County, 34 percent of high school seniors use any tobacco or vaping products. By raising the purchase age from 18 to 21, the law will help keep tobacco out of schools and away from teens.
Each year tobacco use costs Illinois $5.49 billion in health care costs and $5.27 billion in lost productivity, according to research from the Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids.
Congratulations Cook County!
The Cook County Board plans to vote tomorrow, January 23, on Tobacco 21. This legislation would cover all of Proviso and help prevent young people from accessing e-cigs and other tobacco products.
A big thank you to those who contacted Commissioner Brandon Johnson – he said he will vote yes! We now have nine “yes” votes, but we need 10 for the legislation to pass.
Commissioner Jeffrey Tobolski, who represents Melrose Park, and parts of Maywood, Broadview, and Hillside has NOT said that he will support this bill. We need you to call Commissioner Tobolski TODAY to let him know that you support Tobacco 21!
Phone: (312) 603-4735
PP4H's Tobacco-free Living Hub continues to work at the state and local levels to educate legislators about the importance of Tobacco 21 policies. Most recently, the Hub partnered with Proviso students in an effort to build support for Tobacco 21 in Cook County. On November 14th, students from Proviso West High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club, testified at the Cook County board meeting about Tobacco 21. Cecelia Salas and Arely Roa traveled to Chicago to share their experiences as high school students who have seen firsthand the effects of e-cigarette and tobacco use among their peers and to encourage the Board to consider adopting a Tobacco 21 policy in the future. Prior to the meeting, Cecelia and Arely met with Commissioner Boykin, the bill’s sponsor, to discuss Tobacco 21 and learn more about the legislative process. The students were accompanied by Karen Sassetti, Proviso West’s SADD club sponsor, and Robyn Block, the Illinois SADD State Coordinator.
After their testimony, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Larry Suffredin each thanked the students for speaking and recognized the importance of including the teens’ perspective. Unfortunately, the Tobacco 21 legislation did not pass out of committee prior to the full board meeting, so the legislation was not presented for a vote before the full board. However, Commissioner Suffredin shared that he is committed to reintroducing the bill after the new board begins its term in December.
The Nov. 6 Election Day was an important day for tobacco-free living policies in Broadview and Melrose Park! Voters were asked to vote on two separate referenda regarding tobacco products.
A referendum in Broadview asked, “Should the minimum age to purchase tobacco products in the State of Illinois be increased from eighteen (18) years of age to twenty-one (21) years of age?” Broadview residents voted overwhelmingly in favor, with 81% voting in support and 19% against. Broadview is not a home-rule community, so they are unable to pass a local Tobacco 21 policy for the Village. Residents’ support for a statewide policy shows the need for Tobacco 21 policies at the county-level and state-level that cover those municipalities unable to pass legislation on their own.
Additionally, Melrose Park included a referendum on their ballot asking, “Given the increased use of vaping products by persons under the age of eighteen (18) years old, should the Village of Melrose Park prohibit the sale of compact vaping devices within the Village of Melrose Park limits?” The referendum recognized that youth are using e-cigarettes at increasingly higher rates, and that something must be done to address this growing issue. 74% of voters voted in favor and 26% voted against.
These referenda show strong community support among Broadview and Melrose Park residents for policies that limit youth access to tobacco products. We will continue to share information about strong community support for these policies as we work to educate legislators about how Tobacco 21 policies reduce tobacco use and the burden tobacco use places on communities.
The Cook County Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on Tobacco 21 at their next meeting on Wednesday, November 14th
The Tobacco-free Living Hub needs your help!
As you may have heard, a Tobacco 21 bill passed the Illinois Senate and House but was vetoed by the Governor in August. But that doesn’t mean our work is done! Next Wednesday, the Cook County Legislation and Intergovernmental Relations Committee is scheduled to vote on a Tobacco 21 policy for Suburban Cook County. This legislation would include Proviso Township. We need your support to let the committee know that this legislation is important!
Contact your Commissioner by clicking here, and let them know why you think Tobacco 21 is an important policy that will save lives!
Young adulthood is a critical age for smoking initiation with 95% of smokers starting before age 21. We can limit youth access to tobacco by raising the legal age to purchase tobacco to 21. Preventing smoking means fewer long-term smokers, reducing the overall smoking rates, saving lives and saving money. Let the Cook County Board know that Tobacco 21 will save lives and save the county millions in future health care costs.
If you have any questions, reach out to Lesli at email@example.com or 312-628-0208.
Respiratory Health Association
From the Respiratory Health Association:
On May 2, 2017, the Maywood Board of Trustees, based on testimony by RHA and other members of the Proviso Partners for Health coalition, votes unanimously to raise the tobacco purchase age to 21, effective immediately.
With strong support from Proviso Partners for Health (PP4H), a multi-sector coalition comprised of more than a dozen community agencies and institutions in Proviso Township, Maywood Chief of Police Valdimir Talley, and Respiratory Health Association, the vote was unanimous.
The passage of the ordinance is a “sign that low-income communities in Proviso are organizing and using their voice to promote community health and well-being for children and families,” said Lena Hatchett, executive lead of PP4H.
Since almost all smokers begin smoking during adolescence or young adulthood, raising the minimum legal sales age helps reduce the number of youth who start smoking. It helps keep tobacco products out of the hands of high school students and out of high school social circles because the majority of underage tobacco users get their tobacco from peers who themselves are under 21.
Ultimately, this ordinance will help improve the health of Maywood residents by:
“Smoking is blatantly not good for you and young people often make decisions that they later regret,” Michalousa said. “We think it’s a great health initiative and completely support the ordinance being passed.”
The new ordinance immediately went into effect and is now enforceable by the Maywood Police Department. In addition to raising the minimum purchase age, the ordinance also requires all retailers who sell tobacco products to post signage about the new age restrictions at every display of tobacco products that are for sale or are visible by customers.
Maywood joins many other communities in the Chicagoland area who have increased the minimum purchase age of tobacco products to 21, including Evanston, Chicago, Oak Park, Berwyn, and Deerfield.
“We hope Maywood’s leadership will help Broadview, Melrose Park, Bellwood and other communities take the same step in raising the tobacco purchase age to 21,” said Lanie Sanker Kast, RHA Program Manager.
On July 18, 2017, Respiratory Health Association recognized the Village of Maywood as a Lung Health Champion for passing the Tobacco 21 ordinance and taking strides to make Maywood a healthier, tobacco-free community.
Tobacco-Free Living (TFL)
Partnering with the community to take a stand against tobacco and reduce tobacco use, exposure to secondhand smoke, and the poor health outcomes associated with tobacco use.
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