Restaurant Managers, Smoking Opponents Debate Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act

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If each Illinois community could approve smoking bans inside bars and restaurants, area managers fear divided rulings across the state would subtract local customers.

"Someone in Rockford may not be allowed to smoke, but they might be able to go across to Loves Park and smoke at one of those bars. It will probably be a disadvantage for us," Old Chicago Bar Manager Scott Frank said.

But health experts see things otherwise. They argue the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act would allow non-smokers and asthma sufferers to breathe easier, which would jumpstart, not slow down, new customers.

"When these types of legislative acts have been passed in other states, business has not been curtailed at all. In fact, business has been increased because people generally don't like to go into restaurants with that smoke-filled environment," Dr. Stuart Tousman said.

In town, opinion in mixed on whether or not the bill would smoke out business and bar hoppers if the governor signs it into law.

"I think if individuals like a certain establishment they're going to continue to frequent that place, and they won't go to another place because of a smoking ban," Tom Suits said.

"Why should a smoker be able to put that into your lungs, compared to being able to have to smoke outside and come back in?" Dan Harris said.

It’s a decision that refuses to be put out by business owners and smoking opponents in the area.