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Rahm Proposes Restrictions on E-Cigarettes

By Ted Cox | November 26, 2013 3:16pm
 Mayor Rahm Emanuel considers e-cigarettes no different from any other cigarette.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel considers e-cigarettes no different from any other cigarette.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel is tossing e-cigarettes in with all other tobacco products in a pair of new ordinances submitted Tuesday to the City Council that would put restrictions on their use.

One ordinance would label electronic cigarettes  — a device that creates an inhalable vapor  —    "tobacco products," meaning they would have to be sold behind the counter at retailers, and their sale would be banned to minors.

They would also be prohibited from use indoors, as with conventional cigarettes.

Another proposed ordinance would extend the distance where flavored tobacco products are banned from sale, from within 100 feet of a school to 500 feet. That is mainly aimed at menthol cigarettes, which the Emanuel administration has said act as a gateway for new smokers.

That ordinance would also apply to e-cigarettes, which are sometimes flavored as cherry cola, cotton candy, gummy bear and even bubble gum.

"I consider smoking a public-health issue first and foremost," Emanuel said Tuesday, and he made it clear he considers e-cigarettes no different from conventional cigarettes.

"This is consistent with everything I've done in public life," Emanuel said, citing his support for increased tobacco regulations in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, as well as during his tenure in Congress.

"What are called e-cigarettes are as addictive as what are known as regular cigarettes. I want them behind the counter, not available with easy access," he said.

"We know far too little about the potential dangers of e-cigarettes, and it makes good sense to keep them out of the hands of children," said Ald. William Burns (4th).

"It's no secret that the tobacco industry uses flavored cigarettes to target kids and turn them into smokers, and that has widespread negative impact on our communities," added the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Church. "These ordinances will curtail this activity by big tobacco and protect our children from these risks, improving the quality of their lives and making our neighborhoods healthier as a whole."

"This is not the end of making sure we protect our citizens," Emanuel said.