Thursday, March 29, 2007

Smoke-free means stench-free, hopefully

Wait for it... wait for it... and it's finally arrived.

The Illinois Senate passed a state-wide bill Thursday that bans smoking in public places. Following New York City and Paris' lead, sounds like Chicagoans will eat, drink and be merry in smoke-free environments.

I am going to go ahead and laud the Illinois government for passing this bill. As a non-smoker, quite possibly the worst feeling is to come home from dinner or drinks smelling like a cigarette butt and coughing because I spent all night involuntarily inhaling cigarette smoke.

Complaints about such bills come from all sides, including smokers, bar and restaurant owners, club owners, etc. But I don't quite grasp why designating an area 15 feet from the entrance would deter customers from coming in. Convenience-wise, I suppose if I were a smoker then I would prefer the bar that allowed me to smoke indoors on a rainy day than the one that does not allow me to do so, but this bill is state-wide, meaning no public indoor establishment may allow smoking. In this respect, it seems to me that the argument that businesses will suffer is voided and more importantly, one can only hope that a smoking ban will promote greater consciousness of the health risks of cigarettes. At the risk of sounding naive, I wouldn't be surprised if the number of cigarette smoke related illnesses decreases in Illinois in the next few years.

The American Lung Association marked Thursday "a historic day" and applauded the Illinois Senate for supporting the smoking ban bill. The next step is to get the House to approve the bill, then to get Governor Blagojevich to approve it, and Illinois will be on its way to be the 18th state in the United States to implement a state-wide smoking ban. My fingers remain crossed. Meanwhile, I look forward to getting rid of the cigarette perfume that I have been acquiring on my nights out.


At Friday, March 30, 2007, Blogger JA said...

I look forward to not having to take showers at 3 a.m. after coming home from a smoke-filled bar. Sure the number of smokers won't drop drastically because they can't smoke in public places, but it would help keep the lungs of the non-smokers pretty and pink. However I wonder how the restaurants will be in enforcing this possible law. I just saw a story on a local station last night about foie gras, which is banned in Chicago restaurants, and how it's still being served under a different name at certain eateries around town to keep their clients happy.

At Saturday, March 31, 2007, Blogger J? said...

Just for the record, I am smoking a cigarette as I respond to this post. As a smoker, I feel overwhelmingly inconvenienced by these smoking bans. Especially in places like bars, where smoking seems to fit in well with the rest of the vice-like behavior going on. That being said, I completely understand the need for legislation like this. I chose to be a smoker, but non-smokers and employees don't choose to be second hand smokers. But let's be real about how effective this ban will be, and what its consequences for public health are. I grew up in New York, and I started smoking right after New York banned smoking in restaurants and bars. I went to college in a freezing cold, upstate New York city and still braved the elements to get my fix. The same thing is going to happen in Illinois and Chicago. And finally I'd just like to apologize the "stench", never realized how strongly people felt about that.

At Saturday, March 31, 2007, Blogger ji said...

Three months ago, I quit smoking. I smoked a pack a day for close to six years....and I dont regret my decision. As I head into bars and restaurants now and I am met with smoking patrons, I am disgusted. While smoking is permitted at bars but the 15 ft. rule is enforced...the smoke permeates. That rule is a joke.
However, I feel that banning smoking at bars is going to be hard to enforce. Bars owners want to keep drinking patrons happy. If a customer is dropping $70 on drinks along with tips, would you tell them they couldn't smoke?..probably not.
What I find more troubling is walking down Chicago streets with smokers lighting up around me walking. I cannot escape these individuals. But, what will be next, banning smoking on city streets. Bottom line, keeping non-smokers lungs pink and clean is going to take a lot more than a ban that is difficult to enforce. After all, will a police officer be stationed at every bar to arrest smokers...unlikely. I say, if you don't like smokers, do not go to places where you are likely to encounter bars.


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