The sale of flavored e-cigarettes was banned in unincorporated Cook County by a unanimous vote of the county commission on Thursday.
The ordinance is expected to affect 42 retailers and impose a modest tax burden of less than $10,000 on nicotine products, according to the County Treasurer.
Principal sponsor Donna Miller, a county commissioner, tweaked the ordinance after it was first announced, giving retailers 60 days to comply rather than making the ban go into effect immediately. gave grace.
Miller and his supporters say the ban will keep the product out of the hands of teens in hopes of preventing long-term nicotine addiction and reducing the cost of treating lung injuries in the long run. said to help.
Dr. Susanna McCorry and Dr. Maria Lamandahl of Lurie Children’s Hospital said in testimony that “a ban on flavored nicotine liquids would reduce nicotine poisoning and lung injury from inhaling nicotine-containing liquids.” writing. They work in the hospital’s pulmonary and substance abuse departments, respectively. “Decades of research have proven that adolescent brains are more susceptible to nicotine addiction than adult brains. It will last until the first half.”
Doctors who testified at a committee hearing on Wednesday said the menthol ban was especially important because many people who become addicted to nicotine start with menthol products.
The ban applies to “liquid nicotine products containing ingredients that impart a characteristic flavor”, including “menthol, mint, wintergreen, chocolate, vanilla, honey, cocoa, all candies, all desserts and all alcoholic beverages.” Any flavor or aroma, any fruit, any herb, any spice.” Does not apply to tobacco flavored vapes.
The ordinance gives sheriffs the power to “perform spot checks” on retailers and vending machine operators selling nicotine products. Violators will be subject to “a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 for each violation.”
Displaying flavored nicotine products can result in a $500 fine for the first offense and loss of retailer license for three or more offenses within 12 months.
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Cook County Commissioner Toni Prekwinkle praised the commission’s efforts, saying flavored nicotine was “designed specifically to appeal to children and is despicable.”
“I would like to encourage other cities, towns and villages to enact similar laws,” she said.
But the Illinois Fuel Retailers Association, which represents convenience stores and gas stations, objected, saying the ban would “take adult consumers across other counties and state lines into illegal markets where sellers don’t care about age to buy.” I’ll just drive you away,” he warned. Laws or other efforts that prevent youth access to these age-restricted products. ”
Some commissioners who ultimately voted in favor of the ban expressed concern that the ban would encourage teens and adults to buy e-cigarettes online or from unlicensed retailers. bottom. “As a county commission, I would be happy to work with the City of Chicago on how to eliminate the black market,” Miller said, “but I would encourage other municipalities to adopt similar legislation.” Stated. Adopted by the City of Chicago. ”
In 2020, the city of Chicago banned the sale of flavored e-cigarettes, along with an indoor e-cigarette ban and a tax on e-cigarettes. Suburban retailers and shoppers told the Tribune in November that the ban had helped keep customers away.
Commissioner Kevin Morrison, who smoked as a teenager, also said he was concerned about the prospect of buying e-cigarettes containing fentanyl. He said counties should provide more resources to help current smokers quit, alongside preventative bans.
Morrison said: “I completely agree that what we can do is 100% what we should be doing to stop young people from starting to use nicotine products in the first place, but they are already addicted. There is no support system for those who are suffering,” he said. It needs to change, it needs investment. ”