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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. If it is so bad, ban all tobacco products. Then have some real courage and show you really care by banning all cannibas and alcohol sales as well. Stop fake caring.

  2. Nothing like a tin pot dictator. Why are Evanstonians so quick to surrender their liberties?

  3. The lack of critical thinking about such a ban is astounding. Perhaps a map of Evanston and the surrounding communities would be instructive to these do-gooders??? Wilmette, Skokie, and/or Chicago are within a 5 minute drive from most any place in our city and will happily cater to all of our menthol & vaping needs. I personally have no qualms with taking tax revenue from our youth and other nicotine-addicted residents.

  4. Yes to pot and magic mushrooms which cause drivers to be impaired and risk the lives of others, but no to vapes and menthol cigarettes which only kill the idiots who use them? Nothing like a healthy dose of hypocrisy to remind me of all that’s going wrong in Evanston. Thank you Devon Reid.

  5. Please… is there not one member of the city council who will stand up to this comedian.

    You have a city to run people. A real city with real problems.

  6. Banning some but not all doesn’t make great sense. If flavored smokes/vapes are bad what is the bad part – flavor or tobacco? Why not ban all cigarettes and associated products. Why not? If the city needs the tax revenue, then simply raise the taxes.

    Also “… most flavored tobacco products are not currently taxed by the city” What tobacco products aren’t currently taxed by the city and why not?

  7. I’m confused. Didn’t Devon Reid want hookah lounges and cannabis just a few months ago? I guess this is his next attention-seeking attempt, but I generally support this, and so does the FDA (https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-proposes-rules-prohibiting-menthol-cigarettes-and-flavored-cigars-prevent-youth-initiation)

    I can understand people saying “let’s just ban it ALL since ALL tobacco and alcohol is bad.” But we’ve tried prohibition already… it didn’t work. I think a slow phasing-out of products could work better, especially ones marketed to young people.

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