Emanuel launching fight against menthol cigarettes - KMSP-TV

Emanuel launching fight against menthol cigarettes

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is launching a fight against menthol cigarettes and wants the public's input on how to stop kids from smoking.

The FDA just issued a report saying menthol poses a bigger health danger than non-menthol cigarettes.

Smokers like Julio Guzman started smoking when he was 12. Seven years later, he refuses to smoke menthols, but still turns to other cigarettes.

"I smoke because I'm very depressed sometimes and it's just kind of a bad habit for me," Guzman says. "I'm used to just always needing a cigarette in my hand."

He's not alone. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19% of adults in the U.S. smoke. Each day, 4,000 people under the age of 18 smoke their first cigarette. Of those, 1,000 become daily smokers.

The FDA says among kids ages 12-17, 72% of smokers use menthol, especially minority youth.

Menthol apparently provides a minty flavor and a cooling sensation that the Board of Health says turns children into lifelong addicts.

"It's more addicting than regular tobacco, which makes it very, very difficult for people to quit," Commissioner for Chicago's Department of Public Health Dr. Choucair explains. "But, most importantly, it's much easier for kids to pick up that first cigarette when it's a menthol cigarette."

Mayor Emanuel and Dr. Bechara Choucair from the Chicago Department of Public Health are preparing to host several town meetings to get the public's input on the growing problem.

"I think the key is here that we're looking for innovative solutions and as you know, innovation starts locally when it comes to a lot of the public health issues that we deal with," Dr. Choucair says.

The first public hearing is set for August 21 at the regular Chicago Board of Health meeting. The Board of Health will then take the feedback from residents and report back the results.

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