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Smoking Ban in T-Minus...

By Margaret Lyons in News on Dec 31, 2007 8:20PM

2007_12_31.smokingban.jpgThe clock is winding down for drinkers who enjoy a cigarette with their booze. The Smoke-Free Illinois Act is set to go into effect at midnight on Jan. 1, 2008. Illinois will officially join the list of states that have banned smoking in almost all indoor spaces. Besides bars, Illinoisans will not be allowed to smoke in such cigarette bastions as factory floors, stadiums, casinos, and prisons.

However, Chicago residents shouldn't expect John Q. Law to ruin anyone's New Year's celebration: according to ABC-7, the city has no plans to deploy health inspectors at the stroke of midnight. Bar owners are required to post no smoking signs and remove ashtrays, but some people will undoubtedly get one last drag in as the ban takes effect.

Those with sensitive noses are urged, upon observing a violation of the law, to kindly ask the smoker to extinguish his or her cigarette, and then tell the nearest grown-up - er, the management. If the offender deigns to comply, call 311 to report the perpetrator. When the city gets three complaints, they'll send out an inspector to investigate. Bar owners face fines ranging from $250 to $2500, and individual smokers could get tagged with a $250 fine. As far as fines go, it is a much more pleasurable use of $250 than, say, getting one's car out of the impound lot.

Finally, Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel notes another community that will be grievously harmed by the ban: phillumenists. Yes, Vettel believes the ban will lead to many restaurants getting rid of their matchbooks. --Tim Osgood