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News Summary

Proposal dredges smoking from the ashes

Publication Date: 1/23/2008
  • Author:LORRAINE SWANSON
  • Publication:chicagonewsstar.com

An Illinois State Rep. out of West Chicago wants to introduce a bill that will make some establishments exempt from the Smoke-Free Illinois Act--good news to some tavern owners who've seen a change in business since the statewide smoking ban took effect Jan. 1.

"Yes, we would be interested in supporting the bill," said Lisa Hancock, who co-owns the Ravneswood Pub at 5455 N. Ravenswood Ave., with her husband, Ken. "We've seen a change in some of our regulars who smoke who aren't staying as long."

State Rep. Randy Ramey, D-55th, has submitted House Bill 4184 to the Illinois House's Legal Review Board, which researches and drafts the bill to make sure it is compliant with the state constitutional laws before being introduced in the House.

"I voted no against the original smoke-free bill," said Ramey, who enjoys the occasional cigar. "We're telling people they can't do a legal activity. We need to have options. Tobacco is one of the highest tax-revenue generating items, and we're taking millions of dollars away from the state in regressive taxes."

HB 4184 would exempt adult establishments including riverboat casinos and horse racing venues, private clubs and bars that can document that less than 10 percent of their total revenue comes from the sales of food from compliance with the act. The act authorizes local liquor control commissions to issue smoking licenses to eligible establishments.