CITY HALL — Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday defended a proposal to raise the age of buying tobacco products by three years, while saying increased tobacco taxes would go to improve education.
Emanuel defended a proposal sent to the City Council Wednesday to increase the minimum age for buying tobacco from 18 to 21, while setting a minimum price for a pack of cigarettes at $11.50.
Emanuel called it "important for the city's overall public-health goals." He cited Department of Public Health data stating that nine out of 10 Chicago teenagers don't smoke, a lower rate than the national average.
He also backed another proposal sent to the council Wednesday to increase taxes on other forms of tobacco, including smokeless tobacco. He pointed to how the estimated $6 million raised would beef up orientation programs for incoming freshmen and "at risk" eighth-graders in Chicago Public Schools.
Calling it a "summer investment," Emanuel said the added tax not only "deters picking up those products," but improves education.
"I think we'll not only get kids' health right," he said, "but we'll also invest in their education."
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