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Smoke Free Illinois Act passes House

If Gov. Rod Blagojevich signs into law the Smoke Free Illinois Act, which passed in the House Tuesday by a 73-42 vote, smoking would be prohibited in public places, places of employment, and governmental vehicles as well as 15 feet from entrances, exits, windows that open and ventilation intakes that serve an enclosed area. (BCR photo/Kevin Marsh)
The Illinois House of Representatives passed the Smoke Free Illinois Act by a vote of 73-42 Tuesday and it is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who has come out in support of the bill.

On March 29, the Illinois Senate voted 34 to 23 to approve the act. If Blagojevich signs the bill it will come into effect Jan. 1, 2008.

The act will prohibit smoking in public places, places of employment and governmental vehicles. It requires a “no smoking” sign to be posted and ashtrays removed in each public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited.

The act also prohibits smoking in student dormitories owned by a public or private school institution. The act also prohibits smoking within a minimum distance of 15 feet from entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes that serve an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited. It does, however, make exceptions for some hotel rooms and tobacco shops.

“I’m so excited and the margin it passed by is really exciting. I heard we needed 60 to pass and we got 73, so that’s great,” said Ellen Parks, chairman of the American Cancer Society’s Northern Illinois Regional Board.

Parks said they were so excited the act had made it through the House, she was a little unsure of what their next step would be.

“I’m sure the American Cancer Society would offer help to smoking businesses in the coming months, but right now we’re just waiting to see what will happen,” she said.

If Blagojevich signs the bill, Illinois will become the 19th state with a smoking ban law in place.

“Let me see the bill, but it sure sounds to me like that would be something I will enthusiastically sign,” Blagojevich said Tuesday morning. “And I would be shocked if there was something in that bill that I didn’t like that would keep me from signing it.”

Rep. Don Moffitt, R-Galesburg, who also represents a portion of Bureau County, voted against the ban.

“I certainly considered all aspects of the bill, the pros and cons, and I voted no. Now, I am a non-smoker, I do not like smoking and I don’t think you should be able to smoke in certain public places but I thought this went too far,” Moffitt said.

Moffitt said he thought there should have been an exemption for private clubs — VFWs, legion halls and bars.

“Those are the people who fought for this country and now the long arm of the government is going to reach into those private clubs and prevent them from smoking. I think it exceeded what good government should do,” he said.

Moffitt was also concerned over the lack of an exemption for prisons; cigarettes are often used as a form of currency there. Moffitt put forth an amendment exempting prisons but it failed in committee meetings.

“If the prisons are already over-crowded and understaffed, it could be enough to make a dangerous situation even more serious. It could create an added problem. I’ve heard that from prison guards,” he said.

Moffitt said he thought the vote would be close and was surprised at the margin it passed by. He believed the governor would sign it fairly quickly.

“They have up to 30 days to get it to the governor’s desk, but with this one I think it will get there more quickly, and once he gets it he can take up to 60 days to sign it. I think he will act on it pretty promptly,” he said.

Parks suggested businesses could start offering smoke-free products to aid those employees who smoke and wish to quit. In November, six area hospitals in Princeton, Spring Valley, Ottawa, Peru, Mendota, and Streator all went smoke-free, enacting a total tobacco use ban on their properties.

“When that happened (St. Margaret’s Health) offered free nicotine patches and smoking cessation classes to help employees who wanted to quit. We also made sure our insurance carrier covered the latest smoking cessation medication,” said Parks, who works as an oncology nurse at the hospital.

Parks said offering employees alternate activities, such as a work-out room, may help to keep their mind off smoking.

"If God intended us to smoke, he would have put chimneys on top of our heads"

I am a non-smoker, I have been diagnosed with empysema, a smokers disease. I have gotten this through secondhand smoke. This makes me a bit angry to say the least. On this website I will do my best to give you my thoughts on that habit that seems so innocent but is so murderous. You see, I was exposed to my Dad's cigarette smoke at a tender young age, also my friends, at work, at play, pretty much my whole life. Even going to restaurants I am exposed to it.
 Everyday I have to take a medication or two to improve my lung capacity. I am too young for this crap. I truly took pride in the fact that I didn't smoke cigarettes nor really drink alcohol. I knew I could add many more years to my life by not getting addicted to those habits. Little did I know second hand smoke is deadly. I guess it was only obvious because if you are around it , you are breathing it in.   Ladies and gentleman, friends and colleagues, we have been duped all along. We were led to believe it is not so bad and is even glamorous as the movies and commercials portrayed. But it has been one of the greatest lies perpetrated upon mankind. There are 50,000 people who die to smoking related deaths per year in U.S. only. Did the Indians really get us back by showing the white man how to smoke? I know us white men killed alot of Indians but I think smoking has killed more Americans then we killed Indians. Red man clever. Or should we blame the tobacco industry? It is time society puts the no-smoking ban in high gear and make all public places smoke-free. Yeah, I know smokers will get all upset because of thier love for the cancer sticks, and they will say they have rights. Well, they don't have a right to pollute the air I also have to breathe in public places. Forget for now the fact that second hand smoke is dangerous, how about we non-smokers just don't want to be smelling that crap while we are in a restaurant or any public place. It is unpleasant to say the least and if you have respiratory problems it is critical to always be in a non smoking atmposphere.

What's New?

Finally on June 27th, 2006,The surgeon General announced that no amount of second hand smoke is safe. Well, duh, we have known that for decades so it really isn't new. But maybe the smoking bans will now roll into our towns much quicker now.

Cigarette SMoking Related Fatalities

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"For the sake of your health and mine, mainly mine, don't smoke."