SPRINGFIELD — Five years after the state banned smoking in public places, health advocates say the law has been a success.
In observance of the 2008 implementation of the law, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported that the state has seen a noticeable decline in adult smoking, with 21.3 percent in 2008 to 16.9 percent in 2010.
And, in a December survey of 601 registered voters commissioned by the American Lung Association, statewide opinion overall of the smoking ban is favorable, with 77 percent of those surveyed in support of the law. The rate was 73 percent among those surveyed in southern Illinois.
McLean County Health Department Director Walter Howe said he thinks the ban has worked, as local citizens who might have previously been reluctant to visit public places where there was smoke, are now more comfortable.
The ban, known as the Smoke Free Illinois Act, went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008. The law provides that smoking is prohibited in nearly all workplaces, including warehouses, factories, cabs, restaurants, bars, private clubs and casinos.
Howe said there have been a total of 115 complaints within the past five years from the public asking his central Illinois agency to enforce the law, which ranged from putting up smoke-free signs to smoking inside places where it is banned. Following the department’s routine investigations, there were 14 citations to individual establishments.
“In most cases, overall it’s been very positive,” Howe said. “There’s always some segment of the population that feels enforcement is not fast enough or strict enough, but I think we’ve made great strides over the last five years, not seeing smoking as we have in the past.“