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Cook smoke ban set to take effect

Thursday, March 15, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Joseph Ruzich, Special to the Tribune

Tribune staff reporters Joseph Sjostrom and William Presecky and freelance reporters Matt Baron and Denise Linke contributed to this report

As the start of Cook County's smoking ban was set to begin Thursday, some cities and towns on the county's western edge scrambled to come up with their own ordinances.

If municipalities haven't passed their own smoking bans by now, smokers in those places must adhere to the county's new rules--meaning it's time to snub out cigarettes and cigars in places customers previously enjoyed lighting up.

Although some towns, such as Oak Park, passed smoking laws last year that are considered as strict as Cook County's, others, including Cicero and Berwyn, waited until the 11th hour to pass smoking bans that are less restrictive than the county's.

"The Cook County ordinance, in the [town] president's view and the board's view, went too far in terms of banning smoking and infringing on peoples' private property rights," said Cicero spokesman Dan Proft.

The county smoking ban, passed a year ago, outlaws smoking in public places such as workplaces, restaurants, bars, bowling alleys and sports arenas, as well as within 15 feet of any entrance to enclosed areas.

Cicero passed a smoking ordinance at Tuesday's board meeting that allows smoking in designated areas in public places, including restaurants.

Darlene Kroll, who owns and operates Tastees doughnut shop on West 32nd Street in Cicero, said a lot of senior citizens smoke while eating doughnuts and talking with their friends. "I'm glad the board decided not to take that right away from them," Kroll said at Tuesday's meeting.

The ordinance also allows smoking in bars, banquette halls and rooms that are used for private social functions. But smoking is prohibited in student dormitories.

In neighboring Berwyn, officials passed a smoking ordinance Feb. 27 that allows smoking in stand-alone bars and bars in restaurants, as long as smoke isn't allowed to escape. The ban prohibits smoking in restaurants without bars.

"We are trying to be flexible but we recognize the negative effects of smoking and that most people do not smoke," said City Atty. Bruce Bonebrake.

"But at the same time we recognize that there are areas where people go to smoke, like bars.

By passing this ordinance, we are trying to make sure our business interests don't suffer from more stringent county requirements."

Oak Park's smoking ban, passed last June, prohibits smoking in all enclosed public places, but Riverside's goes even further.

That village's smoking ordinance that took effect Jan. 1 bans smoking in all public places, including unenclosed public places such as parks, outside dining areas and even Metra train platforms.

The only exceptions include tobacco shops where customers are allowed to sample products. Riverside doesn't have any taverns but does have a wine bar in its business district.

Smokers are allowed, however, to light up on the sidewalk as long as no person is walking in the area.

Although DuPage County has considered a smoking ban, nothing has been passed, leaving the decision to individual municipalities. So far, only Burr Ridge, Hinsdale and Wheaton have passed smoking ban ordinances.

Kane County appointed a task force to garner public comment on a proposed smoking ban for unincorporated areas, but forums in Aurora, Elgin, Sugar Grove and Geneva drew few people.

Geneva, St. Charles and Batavia initially agreed to ban smoking in their borders only if all three voted for the ban. But though St. Charles voted to adopt the ban, Geneva voted against a ban and Batavia tabled a vote on one.

Because St. Charles' ordinance is a stand-alone document that is not contingent on any action by Geneva or Batavia, it will take effect unless the City Council decides to rescind or amend it.

Other municipalities in Cook County are either considering ordinances or have put them off temporarily, waiting to see what the state will do about a statewide smoking ban.

La Grange has developed a draft proposed ordinance that will be on the agenda for the April 9 Village Board meeting. Under the proposed law, smoking would still be allowed in bar areas of restaurants, but it would require ventilation systems.

Brookfield passed a smoking ordinance Feb. 12 that will allow patrons to smoke in bars and in designated areas in restaurants, but Village Manager Rick Ginex said the village decided not to impose additional smoking bans until they see what the state decides to do.



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