Evanston Implements Flavor Tobacco Ban, Receives Mixed Reactions

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Evanston Implements Flavor Tobacco Ban, Receives Mixed Reactions
Evanston, Illinois bans flavored tobacco products effective April 1, 6-3 council vote approval received four months ago.

According to a report by the Evanston Roundtable on April 2nd, a ban on flavored tobacco products in the city of Evanston, Illinois went into effect on April 1st. The ban was approved by the city council four months ago with a vote of 6 to 3. The new regulations restrict the flavors of all tobacco products, except for tobacco-flavored ones, including traditional cigarettes and cigars, as well as e-liquids used in e-cigarette devices. These regulations only apply to the sale of products, not their consumption, meaning residents can purchase flavored tobacco products outside of Evanston and smoke them in the city without facing penalties.


Retailers who have obtained a license will face strict penalties if they violate the new ban or any other part of the city: first-time offenders can be fined up to $1000, second-time offenders within two years can be fined up to $2500 and face a 15-day suspension, while a third violation will result in the license being revoked. The tobacco webpage of the city of Evanston advises retailers to "request the return of any excess or unsold inventory" from their distributors and wholesalers. City spokesperson Cynthia Vargas stated that there is "no grace period" for enforcement of the ban.


Public health workers have visited each store at least twice to inform them of the ban, address their questions and concerns, and provide stickers that can be displayed in their establishments to indicate the ban.


Evanston's flavored tobacco ban is the first of its kind in Illinois. Many supporters, including Health and Human Services Director Ike Ogbo, have linked this measure to the two previous major tobacco restrictions passed by the City Council: the 2005 ban on smoking in public places and the 2014 increase of the minimum purchasing age from 18 to 21.


In a memo to the city council, Ike wrote, "By establishing a flavored tobacco ban, Evanston will once again position itself as a leader among these municipal bodies, implementing advanced tobacco policy. The public health departments across the region, as well as the Illinois Department of Public Health, strongly encourage Evanston to pass this comprehensive legislation."


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