Smokefree Illinois Act hampering or helping business?

It's been a year since the Illinois Smoking ban took effect in Illinois.

Illinois Department of Public Health spokesperson Melaney Arnold says the state is seeing widespread compliance. She says it is protecting people from the dangerous effects of secondhand smoke.

Arnold said, "Many employees who work in public places such as bars and restaurants where people were allowed to smoke. They're very happy about this because they're no longer putting their health at risk because of other people smoking around them in public places where smoking used to be allowed."

Arnold says in many cases businesses who were concerned about the ban cutting business have seen increases in business from non-smokers.

But not everyone agrees.

We looked into how many complaints related to the ban have been made in the City of Quincy the last year for today's KHQA FactFinder report.

Quincy police responded to twenty-four complaints of customers lighting up in the last year. Some smokers received warnings...but most had left before police arrived.

Adams County Health Department received 18 complaints that 17 establishments allowed smoking in prohibited areas.

Jerrod Welch is the Director of Health Protection with the Adams County Health department.

How is the smoking ban going over in Quincy?

Welch said, "I think from the perspective of what the law was trying to accomplish it's gone over well. It's reduced smoking in public places and that's the intent of the law."

Welch says many business owners who were concerned about the ban initially aren't seeing business slow down too much.

One of them is John Winters the Owner of O'Griff's Irish Pub. He says his business hasn't hurt too much from the smoking ban, that's because the restaurant portion of his business has increased the past year. But he says cleaner air is taking its toll, making for less clean sidewalks. Hundreds of cigarette butts litter the sidewalks outside his bar as well as other establishments all over town.

Meanwhile other businesses are seeing the impact on their bank accounts.

Mark Adams, the Owner of the Mississippi Belle Distributors says sales to bars and taverns have gone down 6 percent this year over last year. That's a big chunk of income considering sales to bars is about 40 percent of his business. He's also noticed saloons which serve food are hurting less...than those which only serve alcohol. Those taverns are seeing far fewer customers due to the ban.

That's apparent at Jed's Brewhouse, which doesn't serve food. Owner John Schutte says business has gone down about 25 to 30 percent since the ban went into effect. He says its been especially hard during the winter months.