Thursday, March 15, 2007

Statewide Smoking Ban Passes Senate Committee

The suburban Daily Herald has a good article this week on the hurdles facing a bill to create a statewide ban on smoking in public buildings.

Similar bans have been passed in the last few years in Chicago and Cook County, as well as a number of other local governments, but this is the first significant attempt to create a statewide ban.

So far it doesn't appear to have the votes in the Illinois Senate, but its sponsor is hopeful.
The suburban sponsor of one of the plans said he believes momentum is building and the start of the Cook County ban could prove crucial.

"It helps most definitely," said state Sen. Terry Link, a Waukegan Democrat. "You know why I think the chances are better? Because of what Chicago and Cook County did, none of their senators and representatives has any reason to vote against it because it’s not going to do anything to them."

Link's trying to persuade Cook County lawmakers with this argument, pointing out that a statewide prohibition would ensure Cook, Lake, DuPage and the 99 other counties would all follow the same rules.

Similarly, a statewide ban would end a "scatter shot" approach across the suburbs where one community banning smoking sees cigarette-toting bar patrons flock to the next community over.

Sixteen states no longer allow smoking in public places. At least 42 Illinois municipalities, including nearly 20 suburban locations, have similar bans in place or about to take effect. There are more than 1,000 municipalities in the state.

Supporters argue that a statewide ban is needed as additional research has better documented the dangers of second-hand smoke, and while restaurant goers may have a choice between smoking and non-smoking, restaurant employees don't have that choice.

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