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Illinois smoking ban starts Jan. 1

SPRINGFIELD Ill. Smokers celebrating New Year’s Eve in restaurants and bars in Illinois will have to snuff out their cigarettes at the stroke of midnight to avoid breaking the law. The state’s new smoking ban, which prohibits smoking in all workplaces, becomes effective at 12:01 a.m. New Year’s Day.

Although Chicago’s Department of Public Health is advising restaurant and bar owners to get rid of all ashtrays by that time, Public Health Commissioner Terry Mason said that no “smoking police” would be out enforcing the new law that promptly.

In addition to removing ashtrays, business owners are required to post “no smoking” signs at each entrance to their places of employment and not allow smoking either inside their premises or outside within 15 feet of doors, windows that open and ventilation intakes. Violating business owners are subject to fines ranging from $250 to $2,500, depending on the number of violations. Fines for individuals caught smoking in the wrong place range from $100 to $250.

Before a Chicago business owner is fined, he or she will receive a written warning, Mason said. After three complaints, the owner can expect a visit from city inspectors. If evidence of smoking is found, a fine could be levied.

Illinois is the 22nd state to ban smoking in virtually all public places.

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