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'Health Risk' Warning Signs Now Required in Chicago

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Setting a precedent, the Chicago City Council has passed an ordinance requiring retailers, tobacco dealers and vape shops to post “health risk” warning signs about “non-cigarette tobacco products.” The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the signs must be posted “somewhere visible at each public entrance,” making Chicago the first city in the country to have such a law.

Chicago has some of the strictest vaping laws in the country, along with the highest taxes, and this is another “crusade” measure, as the Sun-Times puts it, by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel claimed after the City Council meeting that he doesn’t want “their products near our kids.”

Designed by the Chicago Department of Public Health, signs can be downloaded straight from the organization’s website. Citing the ambiguity of “fact” in this case, the Sun-Times made sure to note within quotations that the signs will contain “‘factual information’ about the health risks posed by e-cigarettes, cigars, cigarillos, smokeless tobacco and other tobacco products that do not include cigarettes.” There will also be a phone number for “help” in quitting tobacco.

Emanuel told the Sun-Times, “Tobacco companies are doing exactly what we thought they were doing and suspected. It was never meant as a cessation device. It was meant to hook kids on nicotine. They put up a camouflage that this was all about cessation when, in fact, it was always about addiction … and I just want you to know … there’ll be other things we’re exploring to continue to make sure that our kids are safe from a lifetime of smoking, which means they have a lifetime improvement on their health.”

Emanuel did admit, however in a statement, that youth cigarette smoking in Chicago has steadily declined, yet he blamed e-cigarettes instead of praising them as helping reduce analog tobacco use. “It is now the lowest is has ever been; novel tobacco products like e-cigarettes threaten our progress.”

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita also said in a statement that products like e-cigarettes aren’t less safe. “Kids have the sense that cigars, cigarillos, e-cigarettes, the flavored tobacco is less dangerous and is safe to use. And we can’t have them believing that. We can’t stand idly by while tobacco companies lure a new generation of youth with novel products and ever-changing marketing practices.”

Chicago Tonight reports that the ordinance also prohibits free sampling of “tobacco products.”

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