An Illinois lawmaker is proposing legislation that would loosen the state's smoking ban restrictions in bars and casinos.
State Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D) out of Chicago has proposed new legislation that would allow casinos and bars to apply for smoking licenses. Click here to read more from STLToday.com.
STLToday.com's Brianna Ehley reports that DeLuca introduced an almost identical piece of legislation last year, which passed committee but was never called onto the floor for debate.
The Smoke free Illinois Act became law in 2008. KHQA followed up with the Adams County Health Department. Click here for that story. We were told that many business owners who were concerned about the ban initially weren't seeing business slow down too much.
Legislation for state smoking bans gained momentum across the U.S. in 2011.
As of 2012, the Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights reports that 39 states and the District of Columbia have local laws in effect that require non-hospitality workplaces, restaurants or bars to be 100 percent smoke free.
KHQA's Kristen Aguirre spoke with local business owners and health officials to get their views on the newest legislation proposed.
Some of them couldn't agree more with it.
"Business owners should have the right to make their own decisions, said Jerry Schmidt. "And customers should have the right to make their own decisions"
"I don't feel there should be a third party interest that have no invested interest in anybody's health or their business has a right to make decisions on how people conduct their lives," he said.
Jerry Schmidt owns both State Street Bar and Grill and Cellar 21.
He believes the smoking ban hasn't done anything for smokers, but has cost him something.
"It just cost me additional expenses to put in a beer garden to accommodate smokers without them leaving the premise," said Jerry Schmidt.
But for health officials, their main concern isn't with the owners' finances, it's with their employees.
"We just don't think that for the workers would need to be exposed to that eight hours a day," said Amanda Crumrine, the Adams County health educator. "We just don't think that that's something they need to endure."
This legislation will require establishments with a smoking license to provide documentation that they informed employees of the change and that they acknowledge receiving the disclosure.
While it also requires an air filtration system to be put in, health officials remain tough on their stance.
"It's not a good idea for the public health in general," said Amanda Crumrine.
"I understand both sides of the issues," she said. "I understand that it has decreased traffic in bars but you have to look out for the public health of everyone."
For Jerry Schmidt, it's his decision.
"I'm a private business owner I have my own decisions to make based on my business," he said.
This bill has tried to pass legislature three times but has never been successful.
KHQA spoke with Quincy Mayor John Spring who said it is highly unlikely that this issue will ever see the light of day.
Click here to read the Smoke free Illinois Act as it stands today.
Do you believe Illinois residents should be able to smoke in bars and casinos? Post your thoughts below or on our Face book page here and join the discussion.
*Story by KHQA's Kristen Aguirre.