Press Release

January 1, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich reminds citizens Illinois becomes
smoke-free on January 1st

The Smoke-Free Illinois Act bans smoking in public places statewide
starting in the New Year

CHICAGO, Ill. – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today reminded citizens that the Smoke-Free Illinois Act goes into effect starting today, January 1st, 2008, designed to protect millions of Illinoisans from the dangers of lung cancer. This important legislation will impose a statewide ban on smoking in all public places, including bars, restaurants, public buildings and work places. The Smoke-Free Illinois Act, Senate Bill 500, was sponsored by State Rep. Karen A. Yarbrough (D-Broadview) and State Sen. Terry Link (D-Lake Bluff).

“In this New Year in Illinois, we commit to our resolution to prohibit smoking from our public places,” said Gov. Blagojevich. “People visiting or working in restaurants and bars no longer have to worry about putting their health at risk. We can all collectively take a breath of fresh air as this long-awaited law finally takes hold.”

The Smoke-Free Illinois Act also replaces most local ordinances that may have been considered weak, such as allowing phased in smoking ban or exempting establishments that installed approved air filtration systems.

“Tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable premature death in the United States and now Illinois has taken steps to prevent more exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon Arnold.   “More than any administration in Illinois history, Governor Blagojevich is committed to improving the health of this state.  I thank Governor Blagojevich and I welcome the New Year and a new Smoke-Free Illinois.”

People may still smoke in their homes, cars, outdoors, private nursing home rooms, home offices not open to the public, retail tobacco shops, and certain hotel or motel rooms. Smokers that violate the law by smoking at indoor public places can be fined between $100 and $250. Establishments that violate the law can be charged an amount between $100 and $250 for the first violation and a minimum of $250 for a second violation within a year. Subsequent violations within a year of the first violation will cost establishments at least $2,500.

Illinois workers face serious health risks related to secondhand smoke. The U.S. Surgeon General’s June 2006 report concluded that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Research shows that workers exposed to secondhand smoke on a daily basis are 20 to 30 percent more likely to develop cancer than other workers. According to research, a one eight-hour shift in a smoky workplace is equivalent to smoking 16 cigarettes. Secondhand smoke is a preventable cause of disease and death, both in adults and children.

Smoking related statistics for Illinois:

  • Illinois is now the 22nd state to have a ban on smoking in public.

  • Each year in Illinois, more than 16,000 people die from smoking related illnesses.

  • Currently in Illinois, 24.3 percent of adults and 29.2 percent of youth smoke.

  • Each year in Illinois, there are $3.2 billion in direct medical expenditures related to smoking.

  • Each year in Illinois, secondhand smoke kills 2,900 adults and children.

This law goes into effect January 1, 2008.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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