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January 9, 2020

Analysis of the vapor industry in Illinois, including economic data, state health department findings on vaping-related lung illnesses, youth e-cigarette use, tobacco retail compliance checks, and state funding dedicated to tobacco control programs.

PTS-Illinois: News

Since their introduction to the U.S. market in 2007, e-cigarettes and vaping devices—tobacco harm reduction products that are 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes—have helped more than three million American adults quit smoking.

1. Economic Impact
According to the Vapor Technology Association, in 2018, the industry created 3,770 direct vaping-related jobs, including manufacturing, retail, and wholesale jobs in Illinois, which generated $152 million in wages alone.[1] Moreover, the industry has created hundreds of secondary jobs in the Prairie State, bringing the total economic impact in 2018 to $1.1 billion. In the same year, Illinois received more than $69 million in state taxes attributable to the vaping industry. These figures do not include sales in convenience stores, which sell vapor products including disposables and prefilled cartridges. In 2016, sales of these products in Illinois eclipsed $30.8 million.[2]

2. State Health Department Data
As of December 19, 2019, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has reported 206 cases of vaping-related lung illnesses, including five deaths.[3] The age of patients ranges from 13 to 85 years old, with a median age of 22 years. Although a September 2019 analysis of patients in Illinois and Wisconsin found 80 percent of patients reported vaping tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), IDPH is not offering details on substances vaped in their updates.[4] The Heartland Institute gives IDPH a grade of D for information available on vaping-related lung illnesses.

3. More Information Needed
The most recent report on youth e-cigarette use in Illinois is from the 2018 Illinois Youth Survey.[5] According to the survey, in 2018, more than 82 percent of Illinois high school students had not used a vapor product in the 30 days prior to the survey. Further, only 4 percent of high school students reported daily e-cigarette use. More data is needed to understand the effects of public health campaigns on youth e-cigarette use.  

4. Youth Sales Miniscule
From January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administered 7,849 tobacco age compliance inspections in Illinois, in which the agency used a minor in an attempt to purchase tobacco products.[6] Of those, 1,297 or 16 percent, resulted in a sale to a minor. Of the violations, 641 (8 percent of all compliance checks) involved the sale of e-cigarettes or vaping devices. The number of violations involving sales of cigars and cigarettes were 475 and 181, respectively, during the same period.

5. Misspent Money
In 2019, Illinois received an estimated $1.0688 billion in tobacco taxes and tobacco settlement payments. In the same year, the state spent only $9.1 million, or less than 1 percent, on funding tobacco control programs, including education and prevention.[7] The lack of funding is notable in the state’s telephone quit line, of which Illinois invests only $2.11 per smoker, slightly lower than the national average of $2.21.

Policy Solution
Electronic cigarettes and vaping devices have proven to be tremendous tobacco harm reduction tools, helping many smokers transition away from combustible cigarettes. Despite recent fearmongering, their use is significantly safer than traditional cigarettes, as noted by numerous public health groups including the Royal College of Physicians,[8] Public Health England,[9] and the American Cancer Society.[10] Rather than restricting their use, and undoubtedly reducing public health gains and millions of dollars in economic output, lawmakers should dedicate existing tobacco funds on programs that actually reduce youth use.

Key Points:

1. Illinois’s vaping industry provided more than $1.1 billion in economic activity in 2018 while generating 3,770 direct vaping-related jobs. Sales of disposables and prefilled cartridges in Illinois exceeded $30.8 million in 2016.

2. As of December 19, 2019, IDPH has reported 206 cases of vaping-related lung illness, including five deaths.

Earlier reports of Illinois patients found a majority of patients citing THC products. IDPH recent reports do not offer details on substances vaped. IDPH earns a D for its reporting on vaping-related lung illnesses.

3. In 2018, only 4 percent of Illinois high school students reported daily use of vapor products. More data is needed.  

4. Only 8 percent of FDA retail compliance checks in Illinois resulted in sales of e-cigarettes to minors from January 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019.

5. Illinois spends very little on tobacco prevention. In 2019, Illinois dedicated only $9.4 million on tobacco control, or less than 1 percent of what the state received in tobacco settlement payments and taxes.


[1] Vapor Technology Association, “The Economic Impact of the Vapor Industry ILLINOIS,” 2019,

[2] Teresa W. Wang et al., “National and State-Specific Unit Sales and Prices for Electronic Cigarettes, United States, 2012-2016,” Preventing Chronic Disease, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 2, 2018,

[3] Illinois Department of Public Health, “2019 E-cigarette or Vaping Product Use Associated Lung Injury (EVALI),” E-cigarettes and Vapes, December 19, 2019, Accessed January 9, 2020.

[4] Jennifer E. Layden, M.D., Ph.D., et al., “Pulmonary Illness Related to E-Cigarette Use in Illinois and Wisconsin – Preliminary Report,” The New England Journal of Medicine, September 6, 2019,

[5] Center for Prevention Research and Development, “Illinois Youth Survey 2018 Frequency Report,” 2018,

[6] U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Compliance Check Inspections of Tobacco Product Retailers,” September 30, 2019,

[7] Truth Initiative, “Tobacco use in Illinois,” June 28, 2019,

[8] Royal College of Physicians, Nicotine without Smoke: Tobacco Harm Reduction, April 2016,

[9] A. McNeill et al., “Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products 2018,” Public Health England, February 2018,

[10] The American Cancer Society, “What Do We Know About E-Cigarettes?” June 19, 2019,

For more information, please refer to:

Tobacco Harm Reduction 101: A Guidebook for Policymakers
This booklet from The Heartland Institute aims to inform key stakeholders on the much-needed information on the benefits of electronic cigarettes and vaping devices. Tobacco Harm Reduction 101 details the history of e-cigarettes, including regulatory actions on these products. The booklet also explains the role of nicotine, addresses tax policy and debunks many of the myths associated with e-cigarettes, including assertions about “popcorn lung,” formaldehyde, and the so-called youth vaping epidemic.

PTS-Illinois: Text
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