CHICAGO (CBS) — A proposal from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to crack down on cigarette sales to young people drew heavy criticism at a City Council hearing today, reports WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore.

The Emanuel administration wants to raise to 21 the age when people can buy cigarettes and hike taxes on other tobacco products like cigars.

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Aldermen like Jason Ervin said it would hurt local businesses and increase loose cigarette sales on the streets.
Health Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita tried to make a point.

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“We know that this package would end up saving lives and I think you have raised some concerns about theoretical or possible unintended consequences whereas I know the data actually show that these are definite, proven benefits of this type of package,” Dr. Morita said.

Ervin responded, “These are not theoretical, these are real. I would implore you to walk down Madison with me from Hamlin all the way to Kostner and you will see the real consequences of what we’re talking. This is not theoretical; this is not something that I dreamed up.”

There was little about the proposal aldermen seemed to like.

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A spokesman for the mayor’s office issued a statement saying, “Mayor Emanuel has stood up to the tobacco industry countless times throughout his career to reduce youth smoking, and he’s not about to back down now. The tobacco industry can lobby as much as they like. We’ll continue speaking to and working with aldermen on this ordinance that will prevent young people from picking up smoking, while investing in their education.”