February 8, 2023 – Chicago, IL – January 2023 marks 15 years since the Smoke Free Illinois Act went into effect, banning smoking in public spaces across the state. This law has saved an estimated 37,000 lives in Illinois, helped reduce heart attacks and other health problems, and saved millions of dollars in healthcare costs. And the law has helped place Illinois on the path to a generation of children who have grown up in a smoke-free world.
“How often in our lives do we have an opportunity to save a life—let alone thousands of lives?” commented Joel Africk, President and Chief Executive Officer of Respiratory Health Association (RHA), which advocated for the passage of Smoke Free Illinois. “That’s why we continue this fight to keep tobacco out of the hands of our children and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.” Currently, RHA is working to add e-cigarettes to the Smoke Free Illinois Act and to restrict the sales of flavored tobacco products that are marketed to youth.
Tobacco advocates highlight the need for public health funding to support their efforts. Illinois currently ranks 39th in the US in funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. Only 7.4% of the $220 million Illinois receives annually in Master Tobacco Settlement Agreement is being used to support tobacco control programs.
The need is greater than ever to strengthen vaping restrictions and increase programming to protect our youth from the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes.
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Respiratory Health Association has been a public health leader in Illinois since 1906, focusing on lung health and clean air issues. RHA works to prevent lung disease, promote clean air, and help people live better through education, research, and policy change. As a policy leader, RHA is committed to advancing innovative and meaningful tobacco control policies. We have been one of the state’s leading advocates for federal oversight of tobacco and vaping products, smoke-free laws, Tobacco 21, and other tobacco product policies.