Burr Ridge adapting to smoke-free Illinois
Mike Heffner has a cigarette outside Porterhouse Steaks and Seafood in Burr Ridge. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 4, 2013 1:49AM
BURR RIDGE — It’s been five years since the Smoke-free Illinois Act sent smokers outside.
And according to a survey conducted by the American Lung Association in Illinois, voters like the change. The survey, which questioned 601 randomly selected voters, found that more than two-thirds strongly support the legislation, which since Jan. 1, 2008, prohibits smoking in virtually all public places, including restaurants and bars.
“Illinois residents are overwhelmingly positive about our smokefree state,” said former Democratic state Rep. Karen Yarborough, sponsor of the bill. “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.”
Although some bar and restaurant owners predicted ill effects from the smokefree law, bill sponsor Sen. Terry Link, D-30th of Waukegan, said there is evidence to the contrary. The Illinois Liquor Control Commission Fiscal Year reports show that 500 more liquor licenses were issued statewide in fiscal 2012 than in fiscal 2007, before the Smoke Free Illinois Act was implemented.
Linda Forst of Porterhouse in Burr Ridge said her patrons who smoke don’t seem to mind.
She said it was the local ban on smoking, which went into effect a year before the state ban, initially hurt business.
“We initially lost a lot of business because people went next door to Willowbrook,” Forst said.
But once the rest of the state followed suit, business returned to normal. Now, smokers don’t seem bothered about having to go outside for a cigarette, Forst said.
“They just go outside and smoke in groups. It doesn’t bother anybody,” she said.
The lung association survey indicates even smokers support the law, with 53 percent in favor and 42 percent opposing the state’s smoke-free policy.
Marriott hotels, in Burr Ridge and across the country, snuffed out smoking on its properties even earlier.
It’s been more than six years since the company prohibited smoking in its guest rooms, public areas and employee work areas.
Since 2006 the policy has been implemented in more than 2,300 properties in the United States and Canada, and according to the company, the change has been welcomed by its patrons.
Residents of suburban Cook County and the collar counties of Chicago are among the biggest supporters of the smoke-free law. The association’s survey shows that 85 percent of Cook County suburbanites totally support the law, while just 12 percent totally oppose. In the rest of the suburbs, 82 percent strongly support the law, while 14 percent oppose.