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City Council Expected To Vote On Easing Menthol Sale Ban

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The full Chicago City Council, this week, is expected to vote on easing the ban on sales of menthol and other flavored cigarettes near schools.

Three years ago, the City Council banned the sale of flavored cigarettes, including menthol, within 500 feet of elementary and secondary school property. Now, the Finance Committee's voted to restrict that ban only to high schools, since younger kids aren't as tempted to buy. WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports from City Hall.

Franco Rahana, who owns three 7-11 stores testified at the hearing. He says they were losing money on menthol cigarette sales.

Alderman Leslie Hairston, a smoker, said the taxes and restrictions on smoking are why.

"What we really want to do is, we just want to stop it and we are going to hit the communities that are least able to bare that responsibility, because anybody else that smokes menthol cigarettes, that are not in these poor black neighborhoods, can afford to go to Wisconsin or Indiana to get them," Hairston said. "So don't fool yourselves."

Alderman Roderick Sawyer said the exorbitant price and high taxes on cigarettes is already fueling an underground, illegal, economy in loose cigarette sales. He feels the restrictions are having unintended consequences.

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