Five years “smoke free” in Illinois

The temperatures on Tuesday made it unseasonably tolerable for smokers forced to go outside and get their nicotine fix.

The warm stint just happened to fall on the same day that the Rock Island County Health Department acknowledged five years of going smoke free.

But, not everyone found cause for celebration.

“When you’re drinking, you tend to want a cigarette,” said Bryan Columbus, who’s smoked for 40 years. “You’re in a bar in an environment where people come to have a good time. You’re taking away their good time by making them go outside.”

But, that’s what Illinois bar-goers have to do now.

Five years ago, the state went smoke free much to the chagrin of some bars and restaurant owners who thought business would, in turn, go up in smoke.

One of the ways businesses are trying to get around this is by providing outdoor areas for people to smoke in.

Crabby’s Bar and Grill has an outdoor patio that includes ample table and seating options.

They’ve also got ashtrays for smokers and T.V.’s for people to watch.

Owner, Lori Rotz admits right after the ban was enacted in January of 2008 she saw business decline.

“People would come in and say they were going across the bridge where they could smoke,” said Rotz. “But now that Iowa has the same law, customers have gotten used to going outside.”

Not Bryan.

He thinks that responsibility should fall on non-smokers.

“Let those people go outside. People are going to smoke. It’s an addiction. It’s a terrible addiction, but it’s an addiction.”

The Illinois Gaming Commission made several unsuccessful attempts to exempt casinos from the smoking ban.

While Iowa also banned public smoking in 2008, it’s still legal in casinos there.

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad recently announced he’d like to change that if lawmakers can get a bill to his desk for him to sign.

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