Smoke-Free Illinois

As of January 1, 2008, the law prohibits smoking in public places, places of employment, governmental vehicles and within 15 feet of any entrance to a public place or place of employment. The Smoke-free Illinois Act creates a floor for smoke-free laws, allowing local communities to enact or retain stronger laws, but not allow weaker laws. To view the Smoke-free Illinois Act, click h click hereere

Illinois was the 22nd state to go smoke-free in addition to more than 500 smoke-free cities and counties in the U.S. More than 50 percent of the U.S. population is covered by a 100 percent smoke-free workplace provision. 

For businesses, "No Smoking" signs are required to be posted at every entrance. The Smoke-free Act applies to bars and restaurants and supersedes the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance Act of 2005. To download smoke-free signage for your business, click here.

Understanding Smoke-free Illinois Act

What places are smoke-free?
The smoking ban makes all workplaces and indoor public places smoke-free. The ban includes any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, hookah or any other lighted smoking material. Public places include but are not limited to: hospitals, restaurants, bars, retail stores, offices, elevators, libraries, museums, nursing homes, schools, meeting rooms, private clubs, bowling alleys, skating rinks and student dormitories.

What are the health impacts of smoke-free laws?
Smoke-free is good for your health. This law will save more lives than seat belts, and it will protect people from the dangers of secondhand smoke. 

  • Secondhand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in America.
  • Secondhand smoke causes cancer, stroke, heart disease, SIDS and asthma. It is especially harmful to children.
  • There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. People who spend just 30 minutes in a smoke-filled room have a measurable decrease in oxygen delivered to their heart.
  • Smoke-free laws have led to a decrease in tobacco-caused cancers. In California, lung cancer fell 19.5 percent since smoke-free legislation was enacted.

What is the economic impact of smoke-free laws?
Smoke-free is good for business:

  • Clean indoor air ordinances reduce medical costs and lost work time due to secondhand smoke-related illnesses. In fact, many cities have experienced significant economic gains.

  • "On the restaurant side of the business, our members are now saying the things the anti-smoking advocates said they would experience: It's nice going home not smelling of smoke, it's cheaper to keep the restaurant clean and they don't know how they worked in a smoking environment before." - Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association Executive Director Scott Wexler, The Wall Street Journal, 2013
  • "We found that smoke-free laws had no adverse impact on employment in restaurants or bars." - Brett Loomis, lead author and a research economist at RTI, a North Carolina think tank, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2013

How does Respiratory Health Association feel about the impact of Smoke-free Illinois?
It's a great victory for our organization, for public health and for all Illinois residents.

Our volunteers and staff have been working for passage of this historic legislation for two decades. At the local and state level, our volunteers and supporters made thousands of calls and letters, held hundreds of meetings and testified at dozens of hearings.

What lawmakers are responsible for the new law?
The law was championed by Senator Terry Link, Senator John Cullerton and State Representative Karen Yarbrough. Local momentum was started by Alderman Ed Smith in Chicago and followed by Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley.

How is the law enforced?
To report a violation, please call the local health department, local law enforcement non-emergency number or call the hotline that was set up by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

  • In Chicago, call 311.
  • In Cook County, call 708-633-8654.
  • For the rest of Illinois, call 866-973-4646.

What are the fines for violation of this law?
Individual fines are not less than $100 and not more than $200. Fines for business owners are:

  • Not less than $250 for first violation
  • Not less than $500 for second violation
  • Not less than $2500 for each additional violation within one year of first violation

Are there any exceptions to the law?
The only exceptions are for private residences, retail tobacco stores in operation prior to passage of this legislation, certain nursing home rooms, and no more than 25 percent of hotel or motel rooms.

For more information, contact Matt Maloney:
Email Matt
(312) 628-0233