Chicago joins the rest of the world…

It’s about damn time….

Smoking ban OKd by Chicago City Council

By Gary Washburn
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 7, 2005, 12:36 PM CST
The Chicago City Council today approved an ordinance that bans smoking in virtually all public places in the city, but gives restaurant bars and taverns 2 1/2 years to come into compliance.

Aldermen voted 46-1 in favor of the compromise that emerged from the council’s Finance Committee this morning, minutes before the start of the regular council meeting at City Hall.

The sole “no” vote was cast by Ald. Brian Doherty (41st), whose Northwest Side ward adjoins suburbs where smoking in bars is permitted. Doherty has predicted businesses in his area will suffer as smoking patrons go outside the city limits.

The favorable council vote had been expected, as Mayor Richard Daley on Tuesday said he had no problem with the compromise.

The ban takes effect Jan. 16. Smoking is allowed in freestanding bars and taverns, and within 15 feet of any restaurant bar, until July 1, 2008. A tavern is defined as an establishment that earns at least 65 percent of its revenues from liquor sales.

“I got everything I wanted. I just did not get it in 30 days,” said Ald. Ed Smith (28th), who had proposed an anti-smoking ordinance without the exemption for drinking establishments. “It’s the best we can do right now.”

The measure is essentially the same one aldermen tentatively agreed to Tuesday, except the end of smoking in drinking establishments was changed to 2 1/2 years from 3 years as originally proposed.

Additionally, if a restaurant bar or tavern can show it has installed air purification equipment that ensures the same air quality inside as outside, it will be granted a permanent exemption from the smoking ban. Eleventh-hour negotiations werenecessary overnight to resolve the air purification issue.

With the measure’s expected passage, smoking will be barred from nearly every public place in the city, from baseball stadiums to condominium lobbies to shopping malls.

Smoking will continue to be allowed in private residences except those doubling as public venues, such as licensed child-care facilities. People also will be able to light up in retail tobacco stores, private veterans’ facilities such as American Legion and VFW posts, and at not-for-profit facilities such as church bingo halls.

Smith’s original measure, backed by the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society, would have prohibited smoking beginning in April in virtually all public places, including bars and restaurant lounges.

Ald. Burton Natarus (42nd) countered with a proposal containing a permanent exemption for taverns and enclosed bars in restaurants. Natarus on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with the compromise approved by the full council today, and said that restaurant industry representatives were on board.