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News Summary

Smoking ban enforcement measure passes Illinois House

Publication Date: 1/13/2009
  • Author:Judith Graham
  • Publication:Chicago Tribune

Proposal would provide administrative process for punishing violators

Throughout last year, Illinois counties awaited guidance from the state on implementing its new and highly controversial ban on smoking in public places.

They never got it, and by many accounts enforcement was lax in some rural and Downstate areas where the law was never popular.

That may change after the Illinois House voted Monday to amend the year-old smoking ban, specifying that violations be treated as civil matters and handled through an administrative process managed by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Absent guidance from the state, violations typically have been treated as criminal complaints. But enforcement stalled significantly when a Bureau County judge ruled in October that the lack of administrative rules meant county courts could not enforce the law.

With all the uncertainty, state's attorneys in some rural counties stopped pursuing complaints.