CHICAGO (CBS) — The city of Chicago is launching a new effort to try to stop young people from taking up smoking, by targeting menthol cigarettes.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked the Chicago Board of Health to come up with ways to try to convince teenagers not to use menthol cigarettes, which is how many youth start smoking.
“They’re easier to pick up, especially for kids. We know they’re more difficult to quit,” Chicago Public Health Department Commissioner Dr. Bachara Choucair said on the CBS 2 Morning News. “Then the third thing we know is that they are more addicting than regular cigarettes.”
The minty flavor of menthol cigarettes mask the taste of tobacco, making them more popular among young smokers.
“When we think about how easy for kids to pick up that first cigarette, and especially menthol, that’s why this is an important issue for us,” Choucair said.
According to the city, among African American smokers between the ages of 12 and 17, 72 percent use menthol cigarettes; among LGBT youth of the same age, 71 percent use menthol.
Also, if smokers begin the habit before age 18, they are 75% more likely to smoke as adults, according to the city.
Twenty-six-year-old smoker Octavio Cortez said he started with menthol cigarettes, partly because “I liked the flavor.”
The city planned to hold four town hall meetings in August and September, to try to get ideas for encouraging young people not to smoke.