Indoor smoking ban in effect in Illinois

January 1, 2008 8:43:10 AM PST
At the stroke of midnight, smoking in public buildings was snuffed out across Illinois. A statewide smoking ban is in effect.

The ban is impacting bars, restaurants, and most public buildings.

Illinois is now the 19th state to have a smoking ban. The new law went into effect at the stroke of midnight. As you can imagine, there has been a lot of mixed reaction.

A chant broke out in some bars across the city and suburbs at the stroke of midnight as nonsmokers celebrated the start of the smoking ban.

"I actually don't mind the new law. I think there should not be smoking in restaurants especially. The bars it's kind of iffy. I think it will help us cut down on smoking, especially me. That's a good thing," said Tawnya Grant.

Shortly after the new year, owners began to voluntarily enforce the smoking ban. At the Blarney Store in south suburban Oak Forest, the owner and her staff gathered the ashtrays and patiently reminded New Year's smokers who were lighting up to put it out.

While nonsmokers welcomed the ban, some smokers expressed disappointment about having to stand outside in the cold.

"I don't think that's fair at all. I think it should be their choice to smoke a cigarette in a bar they pay a cover for and wait in line for," said bar worker Krystin Hovanes.

"I'm not very happy about that. I would like to stay at the bar. If we order a cocktail we should be able to have a cigarette with it," said James Mitchell.

Businesses are looking at pretty stiff fines. $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second, $2,500 for each additional violation within one year of the first violation.

The city will not have offices out patrolling the bars and restaurants. Instead the city will enforce the ban by conducting regular inspections and by following up on all complaints.