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Come January, All Smokers Must Dress for the Weather

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 25, 2007 2:00PM

2007_07_smoking.jpgYeah, we know that this should have been weighed on yesterday, but better late than never. But you have to love the smoking ban that Governor Blagojevich signed into law Monday. If you're a non-smoker, that is. If you're a slave to the P-Funk, red apples, Camels, Virginia Slims, Newports and all others, you're probably cursing the Governor through smoky breath and receding gums.

Governor Blagojevich signed the bill into law at Northwestern Memorial in the presence of scores of doctors, smoking-ban activists, cancer survivors, and others, which goes to show that he at least hasn't lost his touch to turn anything he touches into a political dog-and-pony show. Anyhoo, the bill, which goes into effect January 1, 2008, ties together numerous smoking bans enacted throughout the state, toughening them by closing any loopholes like Chicago's "bars don't need to comply until mid-2008" ban, and makes Illinois the 19th state in the union with a broad smoking ban. One wonders how Mayor Daley and City Council feel about the Governor trumping the power of home rule?

There are gonna be a lot of cranky smokers come New Year's. In addition to the ban, there's also the possibility that your pack of smokes might cost more. The state legislature, whose pissing contest over this year's budget now enters a record 55th day, is looking at increasing the cigarette tax by seventy-five cents. State Senator John Cullerton (D - Chicago) estimated an increase in state revenues of $304 million if passed, not to mention all the lives saved because smokers would need an excellent credit rating to buy a pack of Marlboros. If signed into law, it would make Illinois one of the most expensive states in the nation to buy tobacco products.