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News Summary

Smoke-Free Illinois Act called success

Publication Date: 2012-08-05
  • Publication:Alton Telegraph

Nearly five years after it was enacted, the Smoke-Free Illinois Act has been successful in getting bar owners big and small to add smoking areas to their businesses, and has generated thousands of complaints statewide about establishments ignoring the law.

But is it a success?

Kathy Drea, vice president of advocacy and public policy for the American Lung Association, thinks so.

"I do think the ban on smoking has done a great deal for the state," she said. "We have seen a significant decrease in smoke-related deaths, and while we can't solely attribute that to the Smoke-Free Act, it leaves the impression that it has made a difference."

For health-concerned individuals looking to eliminate secondhand smoke risks entirely, there is not only a hotline provided solely for reporting complaints and violations, but also an online form that can be filed with the Illinois Department of Public Health.

According to the law put into action on Jan. 1, 2008, smokers must remain 15 feet from all entrances, windows or vents outside of a public building while smoking, and a sign must be posted at the entrance of all establishments stating that there is no smoking allowed indoors.

After legislators passed the Smoke-Free Act, most bars and restaurants responded by adding on outdoor partial-enclosures (because the law states that a public establishment has four walls and a roof) where customers could enjoy their tobacco. Regardless of weather conditions, smokers, by law, are required to brave the elements to enjoy a cigarette at places inside of which they once were welcomed.

Two of the biggest local bars, Mac's Time-Out and Fast Eddie's Bon-Air in Alton, believe they have done well abiding by the law.

"We've never had a complaint or violation of any sort since the law was passed," Fast Eddie's owner Eddie Sholar said...