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Chicago Youth Cigarette Use Reaches All-Time Low, New Report Says

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced that Chicago's teen youth smoking rate has hit another all-time low, according to a new Healthy Chicago report.

CDPH Commissioner Dr. Julie Morita says the percentage of Chicago high school students who reported smoking cigarettes plummeted from 13.6 percent in 2011 to 6 percent last year. That number is a new historic low, according to the City of Chicago.

"Chicago has become a national leader in the fight against tobacco and as these numbers prove, that fight is paying off," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Monday. "From raising the age to purchase tobacco to regulating e-cigarettes, we are creating Chicago's first tobacco-free generation."

Morita credits higher taxes, a public education campaign, and banning the sale of flavored cigarettes within 500-feet of high schools for contributing to the reduction.

"We have made real progress, but there is still more work to do. By working with community partners, parents and students, we will continue to drive these numbers down so every child has the opportunity to become a healthy, tobacco-free adult," Morita said.

Stats from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say that last year more than 7 percent of Chicago high schoolers reported using cigars, and more than 6.5 percent said they vaped or used e-cigarettes.

The city has allotted $2 million in new revenue yielded by the tax on e-cigarettes to be used for four new school-based health centers by 2019.

Previously, CDPH and its partners had set a goal of reducing youth smoking by 10 percent by 2020. With Monday's report, that goal has already been exceeded more than two years ahead of schedule, the city said.

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