Residents Embrace a Smoke Free Illinois as State Celebrates Fifth Anniversary

(January 2, 2013)

Survey Shows Strong Support throughout the State

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Celebrating the anniversary at the Capitol: Heather Eagleton, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network; John Dunn, Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco; Senator Terry Link; Kathy Drea, American Lung Association in Illinois; Matt Maloney, Respiratory Health Association

Chicago, IL - January 1, 2013 marks the fifth anniversary of the Smoke Free Illinois Act, the law that made it easier to breathe indoors by prohibiting smoking in nearly all work places, including warehouses, factories, cabs, restaurants, bars, private clubs and casinos.

“Illinois residents are overwhelmingly positive about our smokefree state, as shown in a recent poll of registered voters,” said sponsor of the bill, former Illinois State Representative Karen Yarborough. “Overall support for the law is significant at 77 percent and includes support from all regions of the state, among men and women, all age groups and all political persuasions. Perhaps
surprisingly, more than half of all smokers are supportive. The survey data shows that virtually every demographic in the state has embraced a smokefree Illinois.”

“Bar owners had predicted doom and gloom if Illinois became a smokefree state,” said bill sponsor Illinois State Senator Terry Link. “Contrary to that concern, there is evidence that the business climate for bars has improved since the law took effect. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission Fiscal Year reports show that they issued 500 more liquor licenses in Fiscal Year 2012 than in Fiscal Year 2007 before the Smoke Free Illinois Act was implemented. That tells me that not only didn’t the sky fall, but consumers appreciate and are patronizing smokefree establishments.”

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) reports that since the Smoke Free Illinois Act took effect, there was a dramatic increase in the number of callers to the Illinois Quitline for help and information on quitting smoking.  Illinois has seen a noticeable decline in adult smoking in the state, from 21.3 percent in 2008 to 16.9 percent in 2010. The IDPH also reported an annual 4.2 percent decline in heart disease mortality and a 1.4 percent decline in lung cancer mortality since the law took effect.

“The Smoke Free Illinois Act protects the public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke," said Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck. "There is no safe level of secondhand smoke—which contributes to or causes severe health problems in both smokers and non-smokers, including cancer, emphysema, heart disease, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and asthma. We are beginning to see documented proof that this law works to ensure the health of all individuals, especially children, is protected in Illinois."

The Smoke Free Illinois Coalition, including the American Lung Association, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, Respiratory Health Association, the Illinois Public Health Association, the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians, the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco, as well as many other organizations statewide, drove efforts to pass and uphold the law.

“I am proud to have been the sponsor of the Smoke Free Illinois Act.  It was a bi-partisan grassroots effort supported by thousands of Illinoisans from all walks of life,” said Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton. “This law saves lives, and improves quality of life across the state, as we knew it would. The healthcare cost savings for both the public health system and consumers will only continue to grow.”  

More information is available on www.smokefreeillinois.org