While this bill does not outright ban smoking in public places, it does give individual communities the ability to do so. This would be an important first step. The Springfield State Journal-Register has more in an editorial in today's edition:
The measure is necessary because when the General Assembly passed the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act in 1989 it included a provision that only those communities that already had their own such legislation could pass anything more restrictive than the state law. Because of that, all but a handful of communities today cannot pass more restrictive smoking laws.
So, if the Springfield City Council decided that it wanted to pass a smoking ban in restaurants, by state law it would be out of luck. That is not fair or democratic, but we do understand why such a restriction exists. Tobacco proponents want to keep this fight in Springfield where it is much easier to do battle. But as much as tobacco lobbyists would dread having to dash from one Illinois town to another, beating back smoking restrictions, that is how it should be.
If a city council or village board has the wisdom to protect its citizens from the dangers of secondhand cigarette smoke, why in the world should they not be allowed to do so? House Bill 672 is not a "smoking-ban bill" as some have mischaracterized it. Rather it is a bill that would allow those millions of Illinois citizens who are forced to breath secondhand smoke in restaurants, bars and other public places a fighting chance to do something about that menace in their own towns.
I encourage all Illinois residents to contact their Representative and have them vote yes on this.