Press Release

December 31, 2008

Smoke-free Illinois television campaign
Smoke-free Illinois - Doctor - wmv
Smoke-free Illinois - Business Owner - wmv

Governor Blagojevich Announces Media Campaign to Celebrate First Year of the Smoke-free Illinois Act

Secondhand smoke exposure greatly reduced – widespread compliance

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today announced a new media campaign to highlight the success of the Smoke-free Illinois Act one year after becoming law. Starting Jan. 1, Illinoisans will see and hear television and radio ads featuring a pulmonary critical care physician and a bar and restaurant owner explaining how the Smoke-free Illinois Act has improved the lives of their patients, patrons and employees.

“The Smoke-free Illinois Act has been a great success and we are seeing widespread compliance all across the state,” said Governor Blagojevich. “People in Illinois no longer have to put their health at risk while at work or when they go out to a restaurant, bowling alley or other public place.”

The Smoke-free Illinois Act, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2008, prohibits smoking in enclosed public places, workplaces and government vehicles. In addition, smoking is not permitted within 15-feet of any entrance to an enclosed public place or place of employment.

“Tobacco use is the single largest cause of preventable premature death in the United States,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold. “Inhaling secondhand smoke can cause premature death and diseases in children and adults who do not smoke. It causes lung cancer and coronary heart disease in healthy non-smoking adults and increases the risk of serious respiratory problems in children, such as a greater number and severity of asthma attacks and lower respiratory tract infections.”

“This is one of the most far-reaching smoke-free policies in the country, and its enactment is one of the most significant landmarks in Illinois public health history,” Dr. Arnold said. “As the director of the state’s health promotion and disease prevention agency, I am proud of the efforts of local health departments, police, state’s attorneys, the public and my agency in supporting this effort.”

The U.S. Surgeon General’s June 2006 report concluded there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke, a mixture of smoke given off by the burning end of tobacco products and the smoke exhaled by smokers.

Every year in Illinois, exposure to secondhand smoke kills 2,900 non-smoking adults and children.

Levels of secondhand smoke in restaurants and bars were found to be two to five times higher than in residences with smokers and two to six times higher than in office workplaces, according to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Robert Cohen, a pulmonary critical care physician at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, who is featured in both radio and television ads for the new campaign, can attest to the positive results from the Smoke-free Illinois Act.

“The biggest impact of the Smoke-free Illinois Act is in making public spaces safe for people,” said Dr Cohen. “Preventing people from getting sick right away from exposure is very important. I’ve noticed a big difference in my patients in that they feel the Act is here to stay and the air is going to be clean and protected for them. I think everyone has the right to breathe clean air.”

The World Health Organization issued a report stating that no-smoking laws are an effective way of preventing heart disease, getting cigarette users to quit and protecting children from smoke. The report also stated there is enough evidence to prove that smoke-free policies work without hurting businesses, such as restaurants and bars.

Joe Burton, owner of Burton’s Tap in Langleyville in Christian County, who is featured in a 30-second television ad, found his business did not suffer with the passage of the Smoke-free Illinois Act. In fact, business at Burton’s Tap is booming.

“The Smoke-free Act worried me initially, but my business has actually increased,” said Burton. “It’s a lot better for the people working here and the patrons. There’s not a week that goes by that someone doesn’t come up and thank me. They say ‘Joe, we always liked your food, but we just couldn’t stand the smoke, and now it’s so nice to come in here.’ When people keep coming back, then you’re doing something right.”

For more information on the Smoke-free Illinois Act, visit People also can use the Web site to log a complaint about a business or individual violating the law. For smokers looking for help to quit, the Department funds a toll-free help line at 866-QUIT-YES.

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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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