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Smoke 'Em If You Got 'Em

By Alicia Dorr in News on Dec 17, 2007 7:18PM

2007_12_17.smoke.jpgCountdown to Smoke-Out 2008! In case you forgot, or were outside smoking when someone shared the news, come January 1 there will be no more smoking in public places, including bars, restaurants, casinos, dorms, stadiums and anywhere else that is inside, aside from personal homes and cars.

No idea yet on whether there will be smoking shanties outside of bars frequented by die-hard smokers, or if bars frequented by die-hard smokers will really obey the ban immediately, for that matter. Fines for businesses on the first violation start at $250, increase to $500 for the second and are $2,500 for every subsequent violation within a year of the first. There are some places in Chicago that are virtually impossible to imagine without a great cloud of smoke hovering in the air, which non-smokers will probably be infinitely happy to live without.

Fines for individuals violating the smoking ban start at $100 and won't exceed $250, but that's still a hunk of change for someone already giving the state nearly a dollar a pack in taxes on top of any others.

Still, a lot of interesting ideas are floating around on what to do with the soon-to-be useless smoking paraphernalia, including a project that will use donated ashtrays as art materials for students at Columbia College. The Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago will pay 25 cents for every clean ashtray turned in. As for anything else businesses have used in relation to smoking, which in some cases could include Smoke Eaters and other devices bought to comply with the original Chicago restrictions, tough luck. Perhaps they can someday be sold on e-Bay as kitschy nostalgia items from a simpler time. Or not.

"Smoked Out" by Joseph P