Evanston’s Human Services Committee is scheduled to vote Monday night on an ordinance to ban the sale of all flavored tobacco products, including menthol cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

The committee voted unanimously in June in favor of developing such an ordinance.

The measure was initially proposed by Ald. Devon Reid (8th).

In a memo to the committee, Health Director Ike Ogbo says such products are marketed to appeal to Black people, youths and the LGBTQ+ community and lead to an increased risk of tobacco-related diseases in those groups.

He also says the city’s three wards with the highest number of Black residents have the highest proportion of tobacco stores.

The city is budgeted to take in $200,000 in cigarette tax revenue this year and another $17,000 in licenses for tobacco sales.

Ogbo estimates the ordinance might cut cigarette tax revenue by a third.

But he adds that e-cigarettes are not currently taxed by the city and amount to about two-thirds of flavored tobacco sales here.

So, he suggests, the proposed ordinance “would result in large public health benefits with relatively minimal impact on city revenue.”

Of course that assumes that residents don’t just cross the city line to a neighboring community to get their flavored tobacco fix.

The ordinance would also create a new penalty structure that could lead to revocation of a tobacco retailer’s license for a third violation within two years.

If adopted by the full City Council, the ban would go into effect next April.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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