Ahead of Thursday’s board meeting, Commissioner Miller, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, the Cook County Department of Public Health, and advocates urged passage of an ordinance to protect youth health
Today, 6th District Cook County Commissioner Donna Miller, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, and Cook County Department of Public Health COO Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck announced a new ordinance prohibiting the sale of flavored liquid nicotine products in Cook County. Ahead of Thursday’s Cook County Board Meeting where the ordinance will officially be introduced, Commissioner Miller, Sheriff Dart, and Dr. Hasbrouck were joined by Cook County Commissioner Scott Britton, Cook County Commissioner Stanley Moore, Derrick Cabrera from the American Heart Association, and Dr. Nicole Williams with the Cook County Physicians Association, to speak about why banning the sale of flavored liquid nicotine can help improve health outcomes for youth in Cook County and beyond.
“Tobacco companies are aware that adding flavors to their products increases their appeal to consumers, especially our young people. We have known for many years that smoking in any form is dangerous to the health of users, and these flavored products are worsening health outcomes,” said Commissioner Donna Miller. “That’s why I’m proud to join together with Cook County Sheriff Dart and his office as well as Dr. Hasbrouck and the Department of Public Health to introduce an ordinance to prohibit the sale of flavored liquid nicotine products in Cook County, which will help protect the health and safety of our youth and communities as a whole.”
Commissioner Miller will introduce the ordinance at Thursday’s meeting of the Cook County Board. The ordinance prohibits the sale of flavored liquid nicotine products in Cook County, which studies find are hooking a new generation on nicotine, putting children at risk and threatening decades of progress in reducing youth tobacco use. Flavored products, especially e-cigarettes, are driving youth use and also increasing instances of severe respiratory illnesses and hospitalizations amongst youth and adults.
“As a parent, I am deeply concerned about efforts to market dangerous tobacco products to young people, which we know is directly linked to a rise in hospitalizations for respiratory and cardiovascular issues,” said Sheriff Thomas J. Dart. “The time has come for Cook County to take proactive measures to combat this very serious public health issue. That is why I am proud to stand alongside Commissioner Donna Miller and I am grateful for her partnership with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office. I urge the Board of Commissioners to take immediate action on this ordinance.”
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Revenue will be responsible for enforcing the ordinance. Businesses found to be in noncompliance with the ordinance are subject to fines ranging from $500 to $5,000, as well as the possible suspension or revocation of their tobacco license. This ordinance follows in the footsteps of similar measures in several states and counties across the country.
“This is an important step that we can take to help protect and improve the health of residents – especially our youth – of suburban Cook County,” said Cook County Department of Public Health COO LaMar Hasbrouck, MD. “Prohibiting the sale of flavored liquid nicotine products will save lives.”
Derrick Cabrera from the American Heart Association also spoke at the press conference about the detrimental health effects of the chemicals found in flavored nicotine products, and about the dangers of smoking overall. According to the CDC, tobacco and nicotine use are associated with higher instances of respiratory illness in youth and adults, have detrimental impacts on mental health, and can impact brain development in children and teens.
“In the US, more than 3.6 million kids are vaping. E-cigarettes are the most used tobacco products among children, and our kids are attracted to flavored tobacco: fruit, mint and menthol are the most popular flavors,” said Derrick Cabrera, community advocacy director for the American Heart Association. “We stand with Commissioner Miller in her efforts to stop the sale of flavored liquid nicotine here in Cook County and hope this marks a new beginning in the fight against tobacco products in our community.”
According to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey (NYTS), over 2.5 million U.S. kids used e-cigarettes in 2022 and almost 85% of youth users report using flavored e-cigarettes. From 2017 to 2019, e-cigarette use among high school students more than doubled to 27.5%, which led the U.S. Surgeon General and other public health authorities to declare the problem an “epidemic.” 81% of youth who had never used a tobacco product started with a flavored product.
Read the ordinance here.