CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to sue businesses that were caught selling e-cigarettes and vaping products to minors.
The mayor's office says it caught eight online retailers making the sales during a sting operation.
“We have a responsibility to make this nearly impossible for any youth any teenager to get access to these products,” Emanuel said Monday. “When it comes to tobacco products, I do not believe the tobacco companies. They have one thing in mind, which is their bottom line. We have one thing in mind: the health and protection of our children.”
The city also cited 15 brick-and-mortar stores for sales of e-cigarettes and related paraphernalia to minors.
The products have innocent names and packaging that can look like candy. But health officials warn these products can have long-lasting harmful effects on children.
Public Health Commissioner Dr Julie Morita said get teens hooked on e-cigarettes because they contain nicotine mixed with other chemicals, like propylene glycol and glycerin, to deliver these chemicals into the body in a vapor form without producing smoke like a traditional cigarettes.
“Nicotine negatively impacts brain development, which continues into young adulthood,” Dr. Morita said. “When it comes to e-cigarettes, national trends are heading in the opposite direction and we have more work to do, and Big Tobacco will do anything they can to entice our children to try new products. Once they start they know they can hook our children for life.”
Meanwhile, the FDA announced tightened restrictions on the selling of flavored e-cigarette products, including increasing online age verification controls and restricting in-person e-cigarettes sales to retail locations that restrict minors from entering.
Emanuel said as part of his 2019 budget, the city plans to add two new investigators who will focus on tobacco enforcement.