Right now Cliff Sterling doesn't have a problem packing his customers in at Legends Sports Bar and Grill in Machesney Park. But he fears if a proposed statewide smoking ban in all enclosed public spaces goes through that will change, and give our economy a hard hit.
"If I lose 25% of my business, the city and the county and the state loses 25% of my sales tax revenue," says Sterling.
Some customers admit their loyalty to Legends only reaches as far as the ash tray. They say if they couldn't smoke here, they'd spend more time at home or at a friend's instead.
"I probably would do that. You know its amazing, we know that smoking bans have hurt businesses," says Machesney Park resident Jeff Vaughn.
But health officials in favor of cutting down on second-hand smoke exposure say that argument doesn't hold water. Especially since the ban would not be done on a town-by-town basis.
"Their biggest argument is that it wouldn't create a level playing field, but a state-wide ban would indeed create a level playing field," says Kathy Sullivan, local director for the American Lung Association of Illinois.
Sullivan is now encouraging people to head to the polls April 17th and vote for a referendum meant to gauge public opinion toward the statewide ban. The referendum will only appear on Winnebago County ballots outside of Rockford. Supporters hope enough favorable votes will sway the Illinois House to pass the ban into law.
"We're at the crossroads in Illinois where we can join the ranks of states that have shown the forsight to enact smoke-free laws," says Sullivan.
So for now, Sterling is left hoping he doesn't get left behind at the crossroads.