Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund Endorses Rahm Emanuel for Re-Election as Chicago Mayor

Emanuel has been a “real trailblazer” in fighting tobacco

WASHINGTON, DC – In recognition of his strong leadership in fighting tobacco use and reducing Chicago’s youth smoking rate to record lows, the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund is proud to endorse Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for re-election to a second term. The election is scheduled for April 7.

Mayor Emanuel has demonstrated a strong commitment to protecting Chicago’s kids and winning the fight against tobacco use, the nation’s number one cause of preventable death. His innovative efforts have helped make Chicago a healthier city and a national leader and role model in the fight against tobacco.

Under Mayor Emanuel, Chicago has aggressively implemented proven strategies to reduce tobacco use, including increasing the city’s cigarette tax; strengthening the comprehensive smoke-free air law to include electronic cigarettes; banning the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol-flavored cigarettes, near schools; and conducting strong public education campaigns.

Mayor Emanuel has made it a priority to reduce the harm caused by menthol cigarettes, which studies show have been disproportionately marketed to youth and African-Americans. Under his leadership, Chicago adopted the nation’s first restriction on the sale of menthol cigarettes and became the first major city to run a large-scale ad campaign aimed at curbing the use of menthol cigarettes.

“Mayor Emanuel has proven to be the real trailblazer Chicago needs to protect our children from tobacco addiction and win the fight against this deadly epidemic,” said Matthew L. Myers, President of the Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund. “Mayor Emanuel has tackled head-on the serious problems posed by menthol cigarettes, and he has amassed an impressive record in combating the scourge of tobacco. It is clear that Mayor Emanuel has a deep commitment to the health of our kids and the promise of their future.”

The numbers have borne out Chicago’s success in reducing youth tobacco use. The latest surveys show that Chicago reduced its high school smoking rate to a record low of just 10.7 percent in 2013, representing a decline of more than 20 percent since 2011 and nearly 60 percent since 2001. Chicago’s high school smoking rate is well below the national rate, which was 15.7 percent in 2013 (data are from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey).

“Chicago's remarkable progress demonstrates to other cities and the entire nation that we can drive down smoking rates far below current levels by effectively implementing evidence-based solutions,” Myers added. “By fully implementing these strategies, every city and state can dramatically cut smoking rates and put the United States on course to create a tobacco-free generation.”

Among the highlights from his first term:

  • January 2014 – Emanuel supported the City Council’s effort to include electronic cigarettes in the city’s Clean Indoor Air law to further the fundamental purpose of the law – to protect everyone’s right to breathe clean air in workplaces and public places. The law also prohibited the sale of e-cigarettes to kids and required e-cigarettes to be kept behind the counter in stores, out of the reach of kids.
  • December 2013 – Emanuel worked with the City Council to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol-flavored cigarettes, within 500 feet of schools.
  • October 2013 – Emanuel pushed for a 50-cent increase in the city’s cigarette tax, bringing the combined state-local cigarette tax to the nation-leading $6.16 total. Raising the cigarette tax is a proven way to reduce smoking, especially among kids.
  • July 2013 – Emanuel directed the Chicago Board of Health and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to undertake a series of initiatives to curtail the use of menthol cigarettes by youth in Chicago. With support from the mayor, CDPH launched a tobacco prevention ad campaign focusing on menthol cigarette use.

The Tobacco-Free Kids Action Fund is a nonpartisan 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization affiliated with, but separate from the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The Action Fund works to reduce the devastating toll of tobacco use and secondhand smoke nationally and in Chicago by mounting advocacy and electoral campaigns in support of policies that prevent and reduce tobacco use.

 

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