The State of Illinois continues in its efforts to protect nonsmokers, children and students from the dangers of smoking. In the past month, Governor Quinn has signed new laws regulating the way electronic cigarettes can be sold. The new law requires that all e-cigarettes must be sold from behind a counter, in a sealed case or in an age-restricted area. The law will also make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes from a self-service display. That law goes into effect on January 1st 2015. Another law that takes effect on the same day will prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes to anyone under age 18.
Quinn also signed legislation, which takes effect on July 1, 2015, banning indoors and outdoors smoking on all Illinois public college and university campuses including all state-supported schools. The bill was sponsored by state Sen. Terry Link of Waukegan and state Rep. Ann Williams of Chicago. Several Illinois college campuses, including the University of Illinois at its Champaign-Urbana and Chicago, already have smoke-free policies in place. Smoking would still be allowed inside of privately owned vehicles and during activities protected by the federal American Indian Religious Freedom Act.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, along with 28 other state attorneys general, recently submitted comments to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on its proposed e-cigarette rules. They urged the federal government to strengthen its proposed regulations for electronic cigarettes to include a ban on the sale of flavored products claiming that flavored e-cigarettes attract children and teenagers to the products. They also want the FDA to make e-cigarette advertising and marketing follow the same restrictions as tobacco products.
Even Congress has become involved with 12 Senate Democrats proposing a law that would require child-proof bottles for the liquid nicotine used for e-cigarettes. The American Association of Poison Control Centers stated that toxic exposure to e-cigarette devices and liquid nicotine has risen from 271 in 2011 to more than 2,300 this year.
Locally, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is being urged to extend his ban on smoking to include Chicago parks. While Chicago beaches and playgrounds are smoke-free, the parks do not have a similar ban. Chicago has earned a reputation for driving residents to quit, with the ban on e-cigarettes in any location that also bans smoking, disallowing sales to minors and banning all flavored tobacco product sales within 500 feet of schools. These and other measures such as one of the higher national taxes on cigarettes, has worked as smoking by Chicago high school students has gone from 13. 6 percent on 2011 to 10.7 percent in 2013 and the adult smoking rate has dropped to 17.7 percent down from 22.6 percent.
Health officials have praised these new laws aimed at reducing smoking rates,“Today is really about driving people to quit smoking.”