Last month, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich signed into law a bill that makes the state smoke-free.Â This means that smokers will not be allowed to smoke in almost any public building.
There are exceptions. According to the Chicago Tribune, smokers can smoke in private homes (at least the freedom to smoke isn’t banned altogether), as long as a day care or any public business is not conducted in the same space. Furthermore, “They can smoke in designated rooms in nursing homes and hotels, according to the law. They can smoke in tobacco stores, as long as 80 percent of the store’s revenue comes from the sale of tobacco.”
In my mind, this legislation took into account those that sell tobacco as continuing contributors to the local economy. I only wish the City of Madison would have done the same with its city-wide ban in 2005. Although I don’t smoke anymore, I believe that you have to give people an opportunity to find a way to quit themselves. But there are those that also don’t smoke regularly but instead enjoy a cigar every so often (I’ve been there as well).
What does bother me are smokers that stand right by the entrance of a restaurant or tavern door. For a person that no longer smokes, I find the odor pretty disgusting (yeah, I know, I smelled like that once). Illinois’ law requires that smokers do not smoke within 15 feet of building entrances.
I recently went to a tavern-restaurant only minutes away from home in a neighboring community. Although there were ashtrays on the table, only two people were smoking in the bar. This location had good ventilation, so it did not bother me. On another occasion, I was in another tavern-restaurant in another neighboring community where it also had high ceilings, but the smoke permeated practically the entire place. Ironically, it was an Irish pub (the irony is that Ireland went smoke-free in 2004). When I visited England and Ireland last month, it was great not dealing with people smoking in a number of public places (England went smoke-free in July 2007).
When Wisconsin continues looking at a state-wide smoking ban, I hope it includes language that Illinois used to permit certain activities while prohibiting others. I also hope that it takes into consideration those of us that have to walk through a cloud of smoke to get into a public place… in other words, I support banning smoking from within so many feet of a public entrance.