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Smoke Up, Johnny

By aaroncynic in News on Dec 29, 2009 6:20PM

Photo by josephp
In almost two years, most Chicagoans have become accustomed to the smoking ban. When heading just across the border to Indiana, it even feels weird to be indoors while some folks light up. While some bars in the area have either found ways to skirt the ban or ignored it, most Cook County establishments have done their best to comply with the law. The Southtown Star reports that smoking violation complaints have dropped from 682 last year to 270 this year.

While complaints against violators might be down, complaints from businesses haven’t gone away. Casinos have blamed heavy revenue losses on the ban, even to the tune of $400 million. Bars are still reporting losses as well. Tom McAuliffe, owner of Durbin’s, said an interview with the Southtown Star that he lost between 5 and 8 percent of his business because of the ban. Pat Carroll, owner of Crow Bar on the city’s southeast side, found it more profitable to keep a collection jar to pay for violations rather than enforce the ban. In an interview with USA Today he said, “It’s good business to allow smoking. It’s a free country.”

Various businesses have been able to skirt the smoking ban due to an exemption in the law for tobacco related businesses, like hookah lounges or tobacco shops. Some suburban areas though, have moved to expand the ban to include even those businesses. Palos Hills Mayor Gerald Bennett said “I wish the General Assembly when they passed just went across the board.”