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Local Businesses Split On Proposed Changes to Smoking Ban

The Illinois General Assembly is considering lifting smoking ban on select businesses.

Three years after pushing for a smoke-free state, the Illinois General Assembly is considering two bills that would allow smoking in select businesses with liquor licenses and could bring more revenue to the state.

Under House Bill 1310, local liquor control commissions could issue smoking licenses to eligible businesses that gain most of their revenue from liquor sales. Meanwhile, House Bill 171 would allow qualifying businesses to have smoking in isolated ventilated smoking rooms.

A local bar owner, who remembers the effect the Smoke Free Illinois Act had on business, said he would welcome the chance to apply for a smoking license.

Tom McAuliffe, 60, owner of , said he lost five to 10 percent of his business after the law went into effect Jan. 1, 2008. 

“(The business) just never came back either,” said McAuliffe, who has other locations in Burbank, Palos Hills, Tinley Park, Frankfort and Midlothian.

McAuliffe said he took a hit because “some people, the only time they smoke is when they drink, when they’re in a bar.”

He said many customers didn’t want to brave the weather during the cold months, so instead of taking a smoke outside of the bar, they just went home.

McAuliffe said he would apply for licenses for all of his six bars if given the opportunity.

“I think it would bring in a lot more business," he said. "… It would get back normal."

event planner and manager Hilary Sterk, 24, had a different view on the new laws. Although the Illinois Gaming Board suggested the changes could have a positive impact on revenue, Sterk said it would make no difference to her business.

Sterk said if given the opportunity to apply for a smoking license, Bleeker’s “probably wouldn’t.”

“I think it’s better off without the smoking inside,” Sterk said.

According to her, the 2008 smoking ban “did not affect business at all,” because smokers who patronize Bleeker’s are able to smoke outside in the beer garden, and they do so even when it’s cold outside.

House Bill 171 was recently assigned to the Executive Committee. Both bills are currently under consideration by the Illinois General Assembly.

Bob March 05, 2011 at 10:15 PM
Here in my working class neighborhood in Chicago, many adult bars patiently waited for all these new customers. As the second winter approached, they had to decide whether to allow smoking, or close. After two years, there have been no complaints, except for the neighbors of the bars that comply.
Diana March 06, 2011 at 03:43 PM
A healthier, better atmosphere for ALL.....why would anyone want to go backwards from that? We now enjoy a lot of businesses we wouldn't go to before when they were filled with the deadly smoke. I hope our health is more important to the law makers than a few bucks. I know a lot of people who smoke a lot less when they go out now (a few have quit altogether) because they have to go outside to do it, so in a sideways sort of way the state is helping to add years to peoples' lives. Don't cave in!
Patrick Mc Mahon March 06, 2011 at 10:30 PM
I believe most of the people complaining don't even go to bars. I believe smoking should not be allowed in resturants but i believe bar owners should have the right to choose if smoking is a plus or minus for their buisness. If your worried about your health stay at home and have a salad and a glass of red wine. Don't travel on Amtrack diesel trains, don't get caught in rush hour traffic, don't use sun beds, don't swim in lake Michigan at different times, i'm starting to wonder is there anything we can do anymore.
Melinda Moore March 06, 2011 at 10:32 PM
I enjoy going to restaurants in Illinois because I know I won't come home smelling like smoke or have my appetite ruined by smelling cigarette smoke. If it's only bars that get licenses, that might be OK, but I won't be patronizing them.
NPObserver March 06, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Finally some common sense in legislation. Some bars will remain smoke free, some will allow smoking. Doesn't that make some sense? As much as the prohibitionists have build their case on very weak evidence about SHS, it's time some rational thinking takes place. This is America and there is room for everyone. As Patrick stated, if you're going to worry about cigarette smoke, you might as well avoid all those other "toxic" activities. Oh, while you're sitting comfortably at home avoiding everything that may harm you remember not to start a fire in your fireplace. Those small particle fumes are just as deadly, perhaps more, than what you might inhale in any other indoor smoking venue. Incidentally, I don't smoke but I do believe that those that do should not be labeled outcasts.
Thomas Laprade March 07, 2011 at 04:55 AM
Owners have the 'right' to use or permit a legal product on 'private' property. If non-smokers don't like the sight or smell of second-hand smoke then the have the 'right' to NOT enter that venue Simple solution to a simple problem http://fightingback.homestead.com
CarolT March 07, 2011 at 07:44 PM
The anti-smokers commit flagrant scientific fraud by ignoring more than 50 studies which show that human papillomaviruses cause at least 1/4 of non-small cell lung cancers. Smokers and passive smokers are more likely to have been exposed to this virus for socioeconomic reasons. And the anti-smokers' studies are all based on lifestyle questionnaires, so they're cynically DESIGNED to blame tobacco for all those extra lung cancers that are really caused by HPV. And they commit the same type of fraud with every disease they blame on tobacco. http://www.smokershistory.com/hpvlungc.htm http://www.smokershistory.com/SGHDlies.html And, all their so-called "independent" reports were ring-led by the same guy, Jonathan M. Samet, including the Surgeon General Reports, the EPA report, the IARC report, and the ASHRAE report, and he's now the chairman of the FDA Committee on Tobacco. He and his politically privileged clique exclude all the REAL scientists from their echo chamber. That's how they make their reports "unanimous!" http://www.smokershistory.com/SGlies.html For the government to commit fraud to deprive us of our liberties is automatically a violation of our Constitutional rights to the equal protection of the laws, just as much as if it purposely threw innocent people in prison. And for the government to spread lies about phony smoking dangers is terrorism, no different from calling in phony bomb threats.
Carolyn March 17, 2011 at 10:29 PM
There are more nonsmokers (about 75%) than smokers (about 25%.) The majority has a right to continue to enjoy a smoke free environment in bars and restaurants. We won't go backward.

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