With statewide action on Tobacco 21 stalled at the State Capitol, many communities in northern Illinois act to raise the minimum legal sales age of tobacco from 18 to 21. Among communities that adopted tobacco 21 in 2017 include Maywood, Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire, Berwyn, Buffalo Grove, Mundelein and unincorporated Lake County.
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announces rule to make all public housing in the U.S. smoke-free by August 2018. Previously, HUD had “strongly encouraged” housing authorities to adopt smoke-free policies since 2009. Prior to the rule’s announcement, the CDC issued a study finding that a smoke-free public health rule would save the U.S. $341 million in annual health care expenditures, $108 million in housing renovation costs, and $72 million in smoking-attributable fire loss. In September of 2017, Respiratory Health Association and other tobacco control partners from Illinois were invited to the CDC’s offices in Atlanta for a training on how to assist with implementation of the rule.
Housing Authority of Cook County goes 100% smoke-free. The HACC smoke-free policy covers 23 buildings, 1,800 public housing units, and 200 units of multifamily housing. More than 3,500 residents are ultimately protected from exposure to secondhand smoke in the home. Respiratory Health Association and Cook County Department of Public Health provide HACC with policy technical assistance and linkages to cessation resources for residents. Click here to learn more about HACC’s smoke-free victory.
Per PA 95-985, all publicly funded institutions of higher education in Illinois become 100% smoke-free. While dormitories had been required to be smoke-free since 2008, this law expands that policy to require all campuses to be smoke-free. This law followed on the heels of several successful voluntarily smoke-free campus policies, including at University of Illinois at Chicago, which was assisted by Respiratory Health Association.
The City of Evanston becomes the first city in Illinois to raise the minimum legal sales of tobacco from 18 to 21. This ordinance set in motion a chain of municipalities in Illinois adopting tobacco 21. In the following two years, Tobacco 21 would be adopted by Chicago, Oak Park, Deerfield and Naperville.
Chicago Park District adopts smoke-free parks policy covering 580 parks, 90 gardens, 90 museum campuses, 9 lakefront harbors, 9 skating rinks, and more than 24 miles of lakefront property. In doing so, it becomes the largest smoke-free park district in the country. In the coming years, more than 50 municipalities across Illinois would adopt smoke-free policies, many with assistance from Respiratory Health Association.
Chicago adds electronic nicotine delivery systems (e-cigarettes) to its clean indoor air act. Acting only one day behind New York City, Chicago is the second city to protect its residents and workers from exposure to secondhand aerosol from the devices. Limiting public use of e-cigarettes also helps prevent smoking behaviors from becoming a social norm. ICAT members, including Respiratory Health Association, testified in support of the ordinance and launched media efforts to educate on the potential dangers and unknown efficacy of the devices. Respiratory Health Association has continued to advocate for inclusion of e-cigarettes in local smoke-free ordinances and at the state level. Since Chicago’s ordinance more than 20 communities in Illinois have added e-cigarettes to their smoke-free laws. E-cigarettes have not yet been added to the Smoke-free Illinois Act.
Chicago regulates the sale of flavored tobacco around schools, the first law anywhere to regulate menthol products. The ordinance came to fruition after Mayor Emanuel directs the Chicago Board of Health to explore the effect of menthol on Chicago residents, in the wake of an FDA evaluation of the health effects of menthol cigarettes. The Board of Health, local health organizations including RHA, and Chicago Aldermen host menthol town hall meetings across the city to gather resident testimony on the impact of menthol tobacco on their community and ideas to reduce the negative impact of menthol. Ultimately, the city acted to prohibit the sale of flavored tobacco products, including menthol, within 500ft of a school. Since Chicago regulated menthol in 2013, many cities have followed suit, including San Francisco and the Twin Cities.
Healthy Lungs Initiative was an innovative public health education program of Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS), established in March 2008 with funding from 2006 Cook County tobacco tax receipts. Healthy Lungs Initiative (HLI) focused on asthma and COPD self-management, tobacco cessation and reduced exposure to environmental tobacco smoke. The program was led by CCHHS clinical experts in asthma and COPD education and tobacco cessation, in partnership with Respiratory Health Association. The program provided services at 10 CCHHS outpatient sites, Stroger and Provident Hospitals, three additional community health centers and three substance use treatment programs. The program targeted communities of Cook County with greater burdens of asthma and tobacco related diseases with less access to the practical teaching HLI delivers. Between 2008-2016, Healthy Lungs Initiative improved lung health in Cook County, delivering one on-one tobacco cessation counseling sessions to more than 124,000 individuals, 27,000 asthma and COPD educational sessions and over 11,000 group tobacco education sessions.
Governor Blagojavich signs the Smoke-free Illinois Act (PA 95-0017) into law, making all restaurants, bars, and other workplaces in Illinois 100%. The law is considered the strongest smoke-free law in the country, as it includes casinos and private clubs in its list of required smoke-free venues. The bill passed both houses of the Illinois legislature in May of 2007 after a year-long campaign lead by ICAT members and supported by more than 450 organizations, and tens of thousands of advocates. The law requires all publically-accessible indoor spaces to be smoke-free, including all workplaces, restaurants, bars, hospitality venues, casinos, sporting venues, museums, libraries, private clubs, and shopping centers, and no smoking within 15 feet of openings to applicable buildings. The bill sets the floor for smoke-free requirements for the state and authorized all local governments, homerule and non-homerule alike, to adopt stronger smoke-free protections for their jurisdictions. In 2015, Illinois Department of Public Health issued rules for administration of the act. The rules clarify, among other things, the definition of enclosed areas so as to close a loophole in the law for outdoor smoking huts. Since its inception, the law has been subject to numerous attempts – legislative and judicial – to weaken the law. RHA and ICAT partners have made defending the smoke-free act as their top policy priority each year and have successfully fought back against these shortsighted efforts.