Saturday, December 29, 2007

Illinois Statewide Smoking Ban Takes Effect @ Midnight on New Year's Eve

From Chicago Sun-Times:

December 28, 2007
.. Article By Line -->
BY JIM RITTER Health Reporter/
.. Article's First Paragraph -->
At the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, Illinois will ban virtually all indoor smoking in public spaces, including bars and restaurants.

Bad timing, said Sheila O'Grady of the Illinois Restaurant Association.

"To become effective in the middle of New Years Eve celebrations is not ideal."

However, O'Grady predicted that restaurants will comply. And if past experience is any guide, she's probably right.

Chicago restricted indoor smoking in 2005, and so far this year, the city has received only 119 smoking-related complaints, the public health department said.

Under the Smoke-Free Illinois Act, just about the only places left where you can smoke indoors will be private cars and homes.

Smoking will be banned in offices, factory floors, stores, private clubs, prisons, bowling alleys, dormitories, stadiums, casinos, elevators and restrooms.

Smoking also will be banned within 15 feet of entrances, exits and windows.

Smoking will still be allowed in private rooms in nursing homes, in up to 25 percent of hotel rooms and in tobacco shops and hookah bars that don't serve food or alcohol.

Smokers could be fined as much as $250. Businesses could be fined at least $250 for the first violation and at least $2,500 for a third violation within a year.

The city offers this advice if you see a violation: Ask the smoker to put the cigarette out, then inform the management. And if that doesn't work, call 311. After three complaints, the city will send an inspector to investigate.

Outside Chicago, call the Cook County Public Health Department, (708) 492-2000 or the Illinois Public Health Department, (866) 973-4646.

Health advocates say the law will protect workers. In addition to cancer, secondhand smoke can cause stroke, heart disease, respiratory ailments and sudden infant death syndrome. Studies have found secondhand smoke kills 65,000 Americans each year, including eight people in Illinois every day.

A 2005 survey found that 72 percent of Illinois adults said smoking should be banned from work and 73 percent said it should be banned from restaurants.

But the Illinois Licensed Beverage Association says bars, restaurants and nightclubs could lose business to neighboring states. And a casino trade group has warned that casinos could lose as much as 20 percent of their business, costing the state as much as $144 million in lost tax revenue.