Year-old smoking ban irks casinos, bars; supporters say it's a success

January 1, 2009 11:47:46 AM PST
Many Illinois bar owners like Walt Karstens of Moline say they're still hurting from the state's year-old smoking ban. Karstens says business is down by about 20 percent at his bar, Casey's Tavern.

But the Illinois Department of Health and supporters of the law such as the American Lung Association says it's been a success.

Lung association spokeswoman Kathy Drea says she hears from service-industry workers who say they're happy to work in smoke-free businesses.

The Illinois Casino Gaming Association blames the ban for most of this year's 20 percent drop in casino business.

Drea disputes that. She says the weak economy is at fault.

And some bar owners say business is up. Toby Herges says his Tumble Inn bar in Champaign picked up customers when he added a heated outdoor smoking area.