Tobacco Control

Tobacco is detrimental not only to those who use it, but to society as a whole. Smoking and other tobacco use harms the user and those exposed to secondhand smoke. Smoking and secondhand smoke inhalation cause cancer, heart disease, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), emphysema, bronchitis, pneumonia, chronic airway obstruction, Influenza, headaches, eye irritation and many other diseases and discomforts. Smoking and secondhand smoke is a leading trigger of asthma attacks.

If one considers all of the negative health outcomes of tobacco use and secondhand smoke, it is easy to understand how smoking can cost society billions of dollars in lost productivity. This happens when a child is hospitalized for an asthma attack and the parent must miss several work days, or when a bar tender can't serve as many customers as usual because he or she is suffering from a cough that just wont go away.

When taking into account healthcare spending for emergency room visits, immediate care centers, frequent doctor's visits and prescriptions, the cost of tobacco use skyrockets. While smokers must bear much of the burden for their addiction, society pays the price in increased insurance premiums, and state and federal healthcare spending.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's most current information, the total personal health care expenditures for Illinois in 1998 were $41,361,000,000. The Average annual smoking-attributable productivity loss for Illinois was $4,036,182,000 for each year from 1997 to 2001. This only includes adults 35 years of age and older and does not include burn or secondhand smoke deaths.

Society also pays an immeasurable price each time a school has to call a parent and say their child was sent to the emergency room for an asthma attack, each time an uncle misses a bike ride with his niece due to his reduced lung capacity, each time someone learns that their spouse has a late stage of lung cancer and every phone call from a sister saying dad died last night from a heart attack.

On average 16,939 people died from smoking in Illinois each year from 1997 to 2001. This does not include people under the age of 35, nor does it include burn or secondhand smoke deaths.

Respiratory Health Association is concerned for the health of those who use tobacco and for the wellbeing of the entire community. We have had much success in reducing tobacco use in our community through advocacy efforts aimed at increasing tobacco tax, restricting teen access to tobacco, demanding that tobacco companies stop marketing tobacco to youth, and limiting smoking in public and work places.

Policies restricting youth access to tobacco  

Respiratory Health Association has been on the forefront of advancing policies to restrict youth access to tobacco. We worked with partners to pass a tobacco display law stating that tobacco displays in stores must be located behind the counter or in the line of sight of cashiers or other store employees.

This legislation is significant because a major source of cigarettes for minors is theft. Furthermore, theft is more common when tobacco products are located on the store floor out of constant employee surveillance, rather than behind the store counter or near the cashier.

Another law our organization helped pass prohibits people from selling, shipping or causing cigarettes to be shipped unless that person is a licensed distributor or is shipping cigarettes to an export warehouse proprietor. This law helps to limit the online purchasing of cigarettes by youth and adults, while simultaneously increasing the portion of state and local taxes collected on cigarettes.

Reducing teen access to cigarettes and other tobacco products is vital in the fight for healthy lungs.

Tobacco taxes reduce smoking

Raising taxes on tobacco reduces smoking, especially among kids. Research findings suggest that with every 10% increase in the price of cigarettes, youth smoking rates are reduced by 6.5% and adult smoking rates are reduced by 2%. (Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids).

Combining federal, state and local taxes, Chicago has a cigarette tax of $4.05 per pack, the highest in the country. Illinois is currently ranked 27th highest in cigarette taxes when compared to other states with our current rate of $.98 per pack.

Cigarette tax is an excellent way to improve public health, while providing an additional source of revenue to units of government that bear the financial burden of tobacco's health consequences.

The Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco

The Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco (ICAT) is a group of more than 130 organizations and individuals working together to reduce tobacco use in Illinois. Our mission is to promote prevention of the harmful effects of tobacco to individuals and to society at-large.  

Surgeon General's Report: The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke

In June of 2006, Surgeon General Richard Carmona released a report stating that no amount of secondhand smoke is safe and that no amount of air filtration can remove the threat of secondhand smoke.

Carmona concluded that, "The debate is over..." He further stated that, "Based on the science I wouldn't allow anyone in my family to stand in a room with someone smoking."

The report concluded that:

  • Even limited exposure to secondhand smoke is are dangerous
  • Air filtration does not protect people from secondhand smoke
  • Smoke free legislation completely eliminating indoor smoking is the most efficient way to reduce secondhand smoke exposure

To view a summary of the report or to link to the full report click here.

For more information, visit our Tobacco Library