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Proposed Chicago Tobacco Ordinance Adopted by City Council

Rahm Emanuel (D), 55th Mayor of Chicago, IL

News of the Chicago's City Council agreement to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's recent tobacco proposal was trending last week, as the Council voted 35-10 to adopt a local tobacco ordinance - the highlight of which raises the tobacco-buying age to 21.

The following is a breakdown of the final ordinance adopted (which includes much more cigar-related regulation than just the legal age to purchase tobacco products):

  • Assessment of new taxes on tobacco products at the following rates:

  • Pipe Tobacco - $.60 per ounce

  • Little Cigars - $.20 per cigar

  • Large Cigars - $.20 per cigar

  • Mandates that the following minimum tobacco product package sizes and minimum retail prices (including all applicable taxes) take effect only if the new tobacco product excise taxes are invalidated by a court due to a lawsuit against the City of Chicago or legislation repeals the excise taxes:

  • Pipe Tobacco - $4.56 per ounce

  • Little Cigars - $11.50 per package, minimum package no less than 10 little cigars

  • Large Cigars - $1.36 per cigar

  • Prohibits the sale or furnishing of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21

  • Allows anyone 18 years old or older to sell tobacco products and tobacco accessories on behalf of a retailer or tobacco wholesaler

  • Deletes the provision of the Chicago code that makes it illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess tobacco products or tobacco product samples

  • Deletes the provision of the Chicago code that fines a minor who possesses tobacco products

  • Bans the redemption or acceptance of tobacco product coupons

  • Prohibits the sale of a tobacco product through any multi-package discount (e.g., buy two, get one free)

  • Increases fines on retailers that violate the ordinance and adopts new license suspension and revocation penalties

The new tobacco product excise tax rates, the age 21 minimum age, and the new higher fines go into effect on July 1, 2016, but the new tax rates do not apply to tobacco products that are in the possession of a retailer as of July 1, 2016. The coupon ban and multi-package promotional pricing restrictions go into effect 180 days after the passage and publication of the ordinance.

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