Legislators consider exemptions for smoking ban

Posted: 3/16/2011

From The Times Weekly:

An Illinois House Committee passed two bills that would grant exemptions to the smoke-free law in Illinois. If passed, HB 171 would allow smoking rooms in casinos, and HB 1310 would permit smoking licenses for bars and other adult-oriented establishments that make no more than 10 percent of their revenues from food sales.

A recent poll conducted by Fako and Associates for Respiratory Health Association found that nearly eight in ten respondents (79 percent) said they supported the smoke-free law, with 65 percent saying they "strongly supported" the law. When separated categorically, results showed that even among smokers, there is strong support for the law, with 59 percent of smokers saying they support the law. Illinois' smoke-free law passed to protect all workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Working in an environment where smoking is allowed has been linked to increased lung cancer, heart attack, stroke and other diseases.

"The Smoke-free Illinois law is one of the most important public health laws the General Assembly ever passed. It's working, its saving lives, and it's popular with the public. Laws like that should not be changed," said Joel Africk, President and CEO, Respiratory Health Association. "Exemptions like this create a dangerous misperception that smoking in certain areas or situations is less harmful. This is simply not the case. Smoking and secondhand smoke put people at increased risk for lung cancer, heart attacks, strokes and other diseases.