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Cook County bans smoking, starting next year

Thursday, March 16, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by Steve Patterson

Suburban Cook County bars, restaurants and virtually all other indoor workplaces have a new smoking ban set to hit next year.
County commissioners voted 13-3 Wednesday to approve a ban that mandates buildings be smoke-free unless a local government has its own version of a smoking ban.
There are more than 100 Cook County cities and villages that have no such ban.
The county ban, which takes effect in March 2007, won't cover nursing homes or private clubs, but won't exempt bars or places that install smoke filters.
COOK COUNTY'S BAN
Cook County approved a smoking ban Wednesday that will impact bars, restaurants and many other indoor public places in more than 100 suburban communities. It takes effect March 15, 2007, and:
Impacts any Cook County town that doesn't have some kind of smoking ordinance.
Exempts nursing homes, private clubs such as the Elks, Moose and VFW lodges, and country clubs.
Makes no allowances for bars to install anti-smoke machines, and it does not allow for separate smoking areas within some bars, as the Chicago smoking ban does.
Comes on the heels of the county balancing its $3 billion budget by raising its cigarette tax to $2 per pack.
The ban's chief sponsor, Commissioner Mike Quigley, wanted it put into effect in 60 days, but relented to other commissioners.
He said those commissioners pushing the delay are responsible for more "death and illness."
In spite of a 12-month wait before it kicks in, Commissioners Liz Gorman, Joan Murphy and Tony Peraica still voted against it -- with Gorman the most vocal. Though the gallery was full, no one spoke against the ban.
Hadn't read proposal
Gorman insisted she was "blindsided" by the measure, even though she sat through the Monday committee meeting where it was discussed and voted to approve it then.
She said later that she hadn't read the bill, believing it was identical to the city's smoking ban.
But most other commissioners said they've known of the proposed ba n since it was introduced on the heels of a city ban last year, and most commissioners praised it.
"When you're asleep at the switch, this is what you get," Quigley said. "From now on, I'll start highlighting the important things."
Gorman has proposed some amendments, easing the impact of the ban, which she expects to be discussed in committee before it kicks in next year.
She represents a large chunk of unincorporated areas, where bars and restaurants will have no choice but to comply.
'Out there selling death'
In addition to unincorporated areas, the ban affects all but about 14 communities which have already passed some kind of restriction -- though others are now expected to quickly move with their own plans.
Quigley said public-health advocates will help push the idea that any move away from the county's stringent bill means those leaders are "out there selling death."


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