Protect Local Control

Ensuring Community Rights
To Pass Smokefree Ordinances

News Summary

Bill lights up debate over smoking in bars, restaurants

Publication Date: 2005-06-13
  • Author:JAN DENNIS
  • Publication:State Journal Register
Donna Pinkham lit up a cigarette, then lit into a state bill that could snuff out smoking at the small-town bar where she passes time ribbing friends and sliding quarters into a video poker machine.

"I think they ought to leave us alone. Why should we not be able to smoke anywhere just because nonsmokers don't? We have our rights, too," Pinkham, 62, said between drags at the bar in El Paso.

Health advocates argue that nonsmokers also have a right - to clean air. They support the legislation sent to Gov. Rod Blagojevich that would give each of Illinois' 1,200 cities, towns and villages the authority to enact local tobacco restrictions, including bans for bars and restaurants.

Across the state, the bill has fired up a debate pitting the hazards of second-hand smoke against whether government should be mandating what happens inside private businesses.

Blagojevich will sign the legislation, spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch said Thursday. Still, supporters and mayors around the state predict few communities will be quick to jump on the smoke-free bandwagon.