Evanston’s Human Services Committee Monday night is scheduled to discuss a proposal from Ald. Devon Reid (8th) to ban the sale of menthol products and flavored tobacco vapes in the city.
Unlike Reid’s previous proposals to legalize hookah bars and cannabis lounges, this idea has won the backing of the city’s health advisory committee, and the group supports expanding the ban to include all flavored tobacco products.
In a memo to council members, Health Director Ike Ogbo says Evanston has been “a public health leader in tobacco cessation and prevention measures” including, in 2005, becoming one of the first communities to ban smoking in public places.
Ogbo says the proliferation of new products like e-cigarettes and vapes — flavored tobacco products that often mimic fruit and candy — has led to an epidemic of youth use.
Five states and over 290 communities, including Chicago, Ogbo says, have adopted restrictions or bans on the sale of flavored tobacco products.
He says use of menthol products is particularly common among young people and Black residents. He adds that more than half of the city’s tobacco stores are located in the third of the city’s wards that are majority minority.
Ogbo predicts the city might lose about a third of its $280,000 in annual cigarette tax revenue if the ban is adopted and notes that most flavored tobacco products are not currently taxed by the city.
The Human Services Committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the city council chambers at the Civic Center.