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Smoke Free Illinois Act to Affect All Employers in the State

On January 1, 2008, Illinois joins 21 states in banning smoking in all enclosed public places and places of employment, with a few exceptions. The Smoke Free Illinois Act requires Illinois employers to prohibit smoking indoors and within 15 feet of any entrance, exit, intake vent or window that opens. The act also bans smoking in any vehicle owned, leased or operated by the State of Illinois or any community, city or other political subdivision of the state.

Currently, the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act allows smoking in some workplaces or public areas such as posted smoking areas within public places, private enclosed offices occupied by smokers (even if visited by nonsmokers), warehouses and factories not frequented by the general public, bowling alleys, and bars whose primary business is selling alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises. Although none of these exemptions survive under the new law, the Smoke Free Illinois Act does allow smoking in the following locations:

  • Private residences, unless used as a child-care facility or business open to the public.
  • Retail tobacco stores that derive more than 80% of their gross revenue from tobacco sales. This exception does not include any tobacco department of a larger commercial establishment or any establishment with a liquor, food or restaurant license.
  • Private and semi-private rooms in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, if occupied by smokers who have requested a smoking room and the smoke does not infiltrate other areas of the facility.
  • Hotel rooms designated as smoking rooms, provided that all smoking rooms are on one floor and contiguous, the smoking rooms do not comprise more than 25% of the total number of available rooms and smoke does not infiltrate any non-smoking rooms.

The Smoke Free Illinois Act defines an “employer” as any person or entity that employs at least one individual. The act requires employers to post either the international no-smoking symbol (a circle with a red bar across a burning cigarette) or “No Smoking” signs in conspicuous places in the workplace and at every entrance or exit. The act also allows employers to designate outside areas or other non-enclosed areas as non-smoking.

Local law enforcement, state-certified local public health departments and the Illinois Department of Public Health are charged with enforcing the act. Penalties for noncompliant employers include minimum fines of $250 for the first violation, $500 for two violations within a year and $2,500 for three violations within a year. Individuals who smoke in violation of the act may be fined a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $250 for each violation. Each day an employer or individual is noncompliant is considered a separate violation.

Illinois employers are encouraged to implement (or revise) their no-smoking policies in light of this statute. Furthermore, they should make sure employees understand that "scofflaws" will be severely punished under the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

© 2023 Much Shelist, P.C.National Law Review, Volume , Number 151
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About this Author

Irving M. Geslewitz Much Shelist Labor Employment Attorney
Principal

Irv is a one-stop shop when it comes to representing and counseling his clients on anything related to employment law and labor relations. Irv has extensive experience representing employers and executives on issues or disputes arising out of the employment relationship. He also handles the gamut of labor relations issues that confront management in a unionized setting. His experience ranges from reviewing and helping prepare employment contracts, policies, and manuals to representing clients in employment-related litigation in state and federal courts as well as before...

312-521-2414
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