Chicago officials and competing lobbyists put together a smoking ban that won the city council's approval Dec. 7.
The negotiations resolved key sticking points and under the eye of Mayor Richard Daley, whose endorsement helped seal the compromise, the council voted 46-1 to approve the ordinance.
Now, cigarettes and cigars will be snuffed out from CTA train platforms to condominium lobbies starting Jan. 16. The ban also will close smoking sections in restaurants that do not have bars. Moreover, smokers who light up outdoors will be required to stay at least 15 feet away from the entrance of any building where smoking is barred—which means just about every public building in Chicago.
However, under the ordinance's terms, smoking would still be allowed in bars as well as restaurants with bars until July 1, 2008. Some anti-smoking groups were dismayed at the delay but were also concerned by a provision that could permanently exempt any place that meets rules for cleaning the air. ( The rules have not yet been determined. )
Aldermen earlier had lined up behind two proposals. One, sponsored by Ald. Ed Smith ( 28th Ward ) , called for a smoking prohibition in virtually all public locations. The other, backed by Ald. Burton Natarus ( 42nd ) , wanted a similar ban but exempted taverns and bars in restaurants that are walled off from dining areas.
Ald. Freddrenna Lyle ( 6th ) successfully argued that the penalty for a person who smokes in a banned location should be a fine of no more than $100. Businesses or public places that unlawfully allow smoking can face fines as high as $2,500 as well as suspension or revocation of their licenses if they have three violations within a year.
The only dissenting vote on the ordinance came from Ald. Brian Doherty ( 41st ) . He predicted that smaller mom-and-pop restaurants and bars in his Northwest Side district will lose business to competitors in nearby suburbs, where smoking is allowed.
Duke Medic, a manager at Nookies Tree Restaurant in Boystown, does not feel that his business will be drastically affected by the ordinance. 'On average, we get so many non-smokers throughout the day that it'll give us an opportunity to spread them around to all the sections,' he told Windy City Times, noting that the smoking area there is not particularly large. 'As far as getting hit, we'll take a small loss. [ Right now, ] we're just treading water and seeing which direction [ the situation ] will take us.'