CHICAGO -- In what appears to be a softening of a 3-year-old ban on selling flavored tobacco products near schools, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel reportedly supported a proposal to allow the sale of products such as menthol cigarettes and candy-flavored cigars within 500 feet of grade schools, according to the Chicago Tribune. Alderman subsequently approved the amended rule.
The 2013 ban, which the mayor pushed through the City Council, covered all schools at the time and will still apply to stores around high schools. In addition, no new licenses allowing the sale of flavored tobacco products will be issued to retailers within 500 feet of a high school.
According to the Tribune, the mayor is responding to local aldermen who were saying businesses were suffering due to the ban. Part of the argument regarding middle and elementary schools, the report said, was that those children would not look old enough to purchase the products, where high school students could possibly pass as adults. Alderman were quoted as saying that age-restriction rules and the increase earlier this year of the minimum-age requirement for the purchase of tobacco products from 18 to 21 placed sufficient barriers to underage sales.
The mayor’s office called the amendment, which passed the city’s finance committee this month, “a fair compromise with aldermen on issues important to their communities, while preventing any setback on the progress we’ve made in protecting youth from tobacco use,” the Tribune reported.