New Health Department Report Says Fewer Chicago High-schoolers Smoking

    New Health Department Report Says Fewer Chicago High-schoolers Smoking

    Chicago announced on Monday a record low six percent of Chicago high school students reported smoking cigarettes in 2017.

    According to the findings from a report by the Chicago Department of Public Health, this rate is down from 13.6 percent in 2011. Before the decline in teenage smoking, Chicago raised the minimum age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21 in 2016.

    The report included data from the national Youth Risk Behaviors Survey, which asked high school students about behaviors such as smoking, said Dr. Julie Morita, Health Commissioner.

    Morita believes the reasons for the decline in teenage smoking include an increase in the minimum age for tobacco consumption, the high cost of tobacco products and marketing campaigns against tobacco use.

    By 2019, the city has allocated $2 million of e-cigarette tax revenue for four new school-based health centers, said Anel Ruiz, Health Department spokeswoman. These centers include a center at Steinmetz College Prep, centers in development at Drake Elementary and Chicago Vocational Career Academy, and a center planned for Englewood Community High School, which provide primary care to CPS students and the community.

    The department’s report also showed that the percentage of people aged 18 to 20 who use cigarettes and e-cigarettes dropped from 15.2 percent in 2015 to 9.7 percent in 2016.

    Rahm Emanuel, they mayor, said stopping teenage smoking has been his personal and professional mission, because he watched his mother struggle with smoking when he was growing up and he worked with then-President Bill Clinton as he took over major tobacco companies.

    “I’m satisfied that the policies and the changes we have taken against tobacco companies to protect our kids are showing results,” Emanuel said. “I set a goal in 2011 that we wanted to create the first generation of non-smokers. And now we can see the goal is within reach.”

    Smoking is a major cause of preventable death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. People who are under 21 without tobacco use are unlikely to start smoking, according to a report of Cook County Health Department.

    Although the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Illinois is 18, the legislation was introduced in the General Assembly to raise the age to 21 in 2017.

    According to the Daily Herald reported in December, Chicago is one of six Cook County municipalities to raise the minimum age for tobacco purchases. The others are Berwyn, Elk Grove Village, Evanston, Maywood and Oak Park.

    Lake County and six communities in that county also raised the buying age: Buffalo Grove, Deerfield, Highland Park, Lincolnshire, Mundelein and Vernon Hills.

    Still, Mr. Morita admitted there’s a lot of work to be done. According to Monday’s announcement, 7.2 percent of teenagers reported smoking, 4.5 percent used smokeless tobacco, and 6.6 percent used e-cigarettes.

    “We have to be on our guard all the time, because tobacco companies will reshape their products to appeal to young people,” Mr. Morita said.


    Ryan is a writer, editor and content creator who spends most of his time bringing the interesting, entertaining, original and well-written articles to vapers. He believes that vaping is not only a healthier alternative to smoking, but also a great experience of life.