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Protect Chicago’s children and ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products

Exempting menthol tobacco products, popular in Black and Latino communities, would only perpetuate health inequity and leave children of color vulnerable to the predatory and profit-motivated tobacco industry.

Flavored cigarette varieties have included (from right) Mandarin Mint, Izmar Stinger, Twist, and Creamy Mellow Mint. Anti-smoking groups say tobacco companies are targeting the youth market by offering flavored cigarettes. AP file
Flavored cigarette varieties have included (from right) Mandarin Mint, Izmar Stinger, Twist, and Creamy Mellow Mint. Anti-smoking groups say tobacco companies are targeting the youth market by offering flavored cigarettes.
AP File

Earlier this summer, Ald. Matt O’Shea and Ald. Roderick Sawyer introduced a strong ordinance that would end the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes, e-cigarettes and flavored cigars. In response to pressure from the tobacco industry, however, a watered-down version of the ordinance, which would exempt menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars, now is circulating through City Hall.

Let me make this clear: exempting menthols would perpetuate health inequity in Chicago, protecting some children from the predatory and profit-motivated tobacco industry while others are left to fend for themselves.

More than half of kids who smoke use menthol cigarettes, and menthol is most popular with children in Black and Latino communities. Any ordinance that exempts these products fails to protect the children of color in our city, the ones who are most likely to suffer from the deadly effects of tobacco use.

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Chicago has the largest life-expectancy gap in the country. Some Chicagoans in Streeterville can expect to live to 90 years old, while in parts of Englewood, just 11 miles south, life expectancy is just 60 years. Tobacco-related disease is one of the main drivers of the gap, and an exemption for menthol cigarettes perpetuates an already devastating inequality.

It’s time to protect all of Chicago’s children, no matter which neighborhood they call home. Let’s end the sale of all flavored tobacco products in our city.

Jairo A. Mejia, MD
American Heart Association Metro Chicago Board of Directors
Chief Medical Officer, ACCESS Community Health Network

Give students a break from O’Hare noise

As the 2020-2021 school year begins, most of our students will attend classes from home due to the pandemic. Our kids must have a break from O’Hare Airport noise pollution.

There are many obstacles already to remote learning, without the addition of aircraft flying overhead at up to 1 12 minute intervals. Most of the nearby school buildings have been sound-proofed. But thousands of homes still are subjected to flyovers in excess of 60 decibels,. Not only is the quality of life for residents at stake, but there’s the risk of lost education for our children.

It’s time for our elected officials to demand that the Federal Aviation Administration adjust low flight patterns to higher altitudes and reroute flyovers over highly populated areas.

It’s bad enough to have interrupted sleep at nigh. Now we’re playing with our children’s education.

It took a pandemic to reduce the number of O’Hare aircraft flights over homes, parks and schools. But high noise levels remain.

Stephen Lushniak, Edison Park