By ALD. WILLIAM D. BURNS (4TH)
In January, I co-sponsored an ordinance to apply smoking restrictions to electronic cigarettes — namely, that e-cigarettes cannot be used in restaurants, bars and indoors. My father died 12 years ago at the age of 59 of a heart attack caused by a lifetime of smoking. Despite my father’s health struggles, I smoked for many years and have used with success different smoking cessation tools. I am certainly sympathetic to any smoker’s effort to quit, and certainly using e-cigarettes is much better than smoking tobacco.
The health risks associated with the chemicals used to flavor e-cigarettes are not fully known. Big Tobacco lied about the safety of products, and the FDA takes time to conduct their research. The city should set policy to protect children and non-smokers.
Public health experts and researchers are concerned that the normalization of smoking will lure young people to using tobacco, and hook another generation on nicotine. We have already seen an increasing number of advertisements that glamorize the use safety of these products.
The electronic cigarette ordinance does not ban individuals from using the products in the comfort of their homes or outdoors. However, this ordinance does give the City of Chicago the ability to regulate the products in the same way tobacco products are regulated. Although e-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, they do contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that should be regulated.
For those reasons I supported this ordinance. It is a step in the right direction to protect our citizens from the deleterious impact of these products.