I was surprised to find that the smoking ban was passed as discussions I had seen and heard made it seem unlikely that this ban would actually be implemented. Smoking will be banned at all stores, restaurants, sports arenas and other public areas as of January 16, 2006.
The exception to the above is taverns and restaurant bars/lounges that have until July 1, 2008 to comply with the ban. A tavern is considered as any establishment that earns at least 65 percent of proceeds from the sale of alcohol. After January 16th of 2006, smoking will only be allowed within 15 feet of the bar and will be banned within 15 feet of the entrance of any building where smoking is banned.
There are exceptions to the ban. Smoking will be allowed at private clubs such as religious and fraternal clubs. Only non-profit clubs are eligible. Smoking is also allowed in private homes and residences as long as they are not used as daycare or healthcare facilities. It will also be allowed in hotel smoking rooms and tobacco stores. If business owners install special air filtration/purification systems that render the secondhand smoke harmless, they can allow smoking.
However, on one news program it was stated that this type of system is not even available. The Department of Public Health will enforce the ban and anyone smoking in a non-smoking area could pay a fine up to $100.00. Business owners that violate the ban could be fined $100.00 for the first violation, $500.00 for the second and $2,500.00 for additional violations and could face license suspension for up to 60 days.
Cook County is looking to expand this ban throughout the entire county. Some Chicago business owners feel they will be treated unfairly, especially those that reside on Chicago and suburban borders. Making the ban county-wide should make the ban more fair.
I remember visiting a tavern in California with my husband which was a place he used to play at with his previous band. I noticed something different but couldn’t put my finger on it. After mentioning it he informed me that smoking wasn’t allowed in the bar. That was it! No watery eyes, no clearing my throat. I never expected it to happen in Chicago, though. It’s different going out to the beer garden in California to have a smoke than going out into Chicago’s deep freeze in our winters. Chicagoans have a couple of years to figure it out, at least for taverns.