City Council Takes Steps to Protect Chicago’s Kids from Big Tobacco

Public health advocates applaud efforts by Ald. Matt O’Shea and Ald. Roderick Sawyer to protect Chicago kids from flavored tobacco and a lifetime of addiction.

June 24, 2020

CHICAGO, Ill. – Public health advocates applaud efforts by Ald. Matt O’Shea and Ald. Roderick Sawyer to protect Chicago kids from flavored tobacco and a lifetime of addiction. Ald. O’Shea, Ald. Sawyer and 19 additional co-sponsors introduced an ordinance that will end the sale of all flavored tobacco products including e-cigarettes and menthol cigarettes. Even as we face this pandemic, we are still facing skyrocketing youth tobacco use. 

“Ald. O’Shea and Ald. Sawyer are taking a stand for the health of Chicago’s children with their actions today. Day after day we see how these products are negatively impacting the lives of our kids,” said Shana Crews, government relations director for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Flavors only help lure our youth to try these highly addictive products and exposing our youth to cancer-causing agents, something needed to be done.”

More than 80% of youth who use tobacco started with a flavored product. Ending the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, flavored cigars, hookah and smokeless tobacco will also help protect our kids. City council shouldn’t wait to ensure our kids are protected from tobacco’s deadly toll. At current usage rates, 230,000 kids under 18 in Illinois right now will ultimately die prematurely from smoking.

"In this time of renewed efforts to eliminate sources of health inequalities for African Americans, it is time to finally end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol,” said, Phoenix Matthews, associate dean for equity and inclusion in the College of Nursing at UIC. “Why?  Because the tobacco industry relentlessly targets the Black community with menthol flavored tobacco products. Because of the failure to enact fair tobacco control policies is another reason why 'We Can't Breathe'. And most importantly, because, Black Lives Matter."  

“It is time to put the health and wellbeing of all Chicagoans above the interests of big tobacco companies and those who sell their deadly and addictive products,” said Dr. Wayne Giles, dean of the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and member of the American Heart Association’s Metro Chicago Board of Directors. 

“Chicago has a long history of protecting our children from the dangers of tobacco use,” said Joel J. Africk, CEO of Respiratory Health Association. “The new ordinance is the next logical step to protect children from lifetimes of addiction and lung disease, and it will save hundreds if not thousands of lives.” 

Nearly every major health advocacy organization in the state has joined to thank Ald. O’Shea and Ald. Sawyer for introducing and supporting this ordinance. The following organizations look forward to working with the rest of city council and the mayor to pass this important legislation in the near future: 

Advocate Aurora Health, African American Tobacco Control Leadership Council, AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Alliance for Community Peace, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Indian Health Service of Chicago, American Lung Association, AMITA, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Apostolic Faith Church (Bishop Horace Smith), Asian Health Coalition, Bronzeville Life, Build Inc., Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Chicago Area Project, Chicago Board of Health President Carolyn Lopez, Chicago Hispanic Health Coalition, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago State University, Claretian Associates, Defender Charities, District Outreach Initiatives, Endeleo Institute, Far South Community Action Council, Gads Hill, Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corp, Healthcare Alternative Systems, Healthy Washington Heights, Helping Communities Help Themselves, Hip Hop Detoxx, IL Health and Hospital Association, IL State Medical Society, IL Academy of Family Physicians, IL Academy of Pediatrics, IL Coalition Against Tobacco, IL Public Health Association, Loyola Medical Center, March of Dimes, Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church (Rev. Marshall Hatch), Northern IL Public Health Consortium, Northwestern, Parents Against Vaping E-Cigarettes, Peer Plus Education and Training Advocates, People For Community Recovery, PrimeCareHealth Chicago, Project BrotherHood, Project Hood (Help Others To Obtain Destiny), P.R.O.J.E.C.T Restore Ties, Respiratory Health Association, Robert Sengstacke Foundation, Sisters Working It Out, Thornton Reformer Gazette NFP Digital Newspaper, True Star Media and Foundation, University of Chicago, University of Illinois Chicago, University of Illinois Cancer Center, UI Health, and YMCA Alliance.


The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state and local levels. ACS CAN empowers advocates across the country to make their voices heard and influence evidence-based public policy change as well as legislative and regulatory solutions that will reduce the cancer burden. As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is critical to the fight for a world without cancer. For more information, visit

About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a leading force for a world of longer, healthier lives. With nearly a century of lifesaving work, the Dallas-based association is dedicated to ensuring equitable health for all. We are a trustworthy source empowering people to improve their heart health, brain health and well-being. We collaborate with numerous organizations and millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, advocate for stronger public health policies, and share lifesaving resources and information. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

About the American Lung Association 
The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through research, education and advocacy. The Lung Association is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer, to improve the air we breathe, to reduce the burden of lung disease on individuals and their families, and to eliminate tobacco use and tobacco-related diseases. For more information about the American Lung Association, call 1-800-LUNGUSA (1-800-685-4872) or visit

About Respiratory Health Association
Respiratory Health Association has been a local public health leader in Illinois since 1906 focusing on lung health and clean air issues. A policy leader, our organization remains committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, smoke-free laws, Tobacco 21 and other tobacco product policies. For more information, visit

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