Friday, March 28, 2008

If Chicago wants to host the Olympics, then IL has to be smoke-free

I'm VERY appalled if what I read in bold within this article copy is the truth. I don't give a crap about Daley trying to win the competition to host the 2016 Olympics! I want my darn right to smoke in Chicago back!

The fact CTA transportation is high might hurt his chances of winning the bid. I bet a CTA ride might be 4 bucks by 2016.

So IL is smoke-free partly because Daley wants the Olympics to be in Chicago. Ain't that somethin?

Smokers' Rights group set to present petitions to legislators
Meeting held at Wamac City Hall
Staff Writer

(Staff Photo by Bob Haney) Wamac Mayor Butch Mathus holds a stack of petitions containing approximately 10,000 signatures from people who are unhappy with the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

The Smoker's Rights Committee met Tuesday night at Wamac City Hall to let the public know where the group stands in regard to their challenging the Smoke Free Illinois Act, which has, according to Wamac Mayor Butch Mathus, cut a chunk out of the businesses involved in the hospitality industry in southern Illinois, as well as in the rest of the state.

The committee, originally started by Barb Pennypacker and Mathus, has been gaining support in their effort to get the bill amended to allow each individual bar, casino, or organization to decide their status on smoking in their respective establishments. Then the public, according to Mathus, can decide on their own whether they wish to frequent businesses based on their personal preference of smoking or non-smoking.

Mathus cited unofficial figures that show losses in revenue for the casinos, bars, veteran's clubs, restaurants, and other hospitality businesses. According to Mathus, who cited the Illinois Beverage Association as the source of his information, the city of Alton has had to lay off workers due to the loss of revenue from the Alton Belle Casino. Mathus claimed that the Casino Queen lost a half million dollars in January. Statewide, Mathus said that casinos stand to lose about 100 million dollars.

"In a state where we are billions of dollars in debt," added Mathus, "how can the state afford to lose the revenue they are losing from sales tax and from the casinos?"

Mathus said that the source of his information also said that the main reason that the state went smoke-free was because of the fact that Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is working hard at getting Chicago selected as the site of the 2012 Summer Olympics. A city that hosts an Olympics is required to be a smoke-free city and that the Chicago machine decided that the whole state might has well join them, according to Mathus.

"I don't feel that a personal pet project should affect the whole rest of the state," Mathus said.

Mathus held up a stack of about 10,000 signatures that have been turned in thus far in support of the repeal or amendment of the Illinois Smoke Free Act. Petitions have come in from all around the state, including Alton, Rockford, Granite City, Marshall, Altamont, Effingham, Mt. Vernon, and Edwardsville, to name a few. Mathus pointed out that several were circulated by non-smokers who felt the issue was about freedom.

The two main points that are the brunt of the issue include an establishment's right to choose whether or not they want to let smokers light up in their business, and the clarity of who exactly can be ticketed and who can do the ticketing. The law states that anyone may anonymously call and file a complaint with a county health department about someone in violation of the law and a business or individual can be cited based on that complaint.

Mathus said that the law is "unconstitutional," as it is a non-enforceable law which lacks clarity throughout. Mathus mentioned the fact that the law states that it would have no detrimental economic effect on businesses.

"That is not the case," said Mathus. "Also, one is supposed to have the right to know their accuser. All we are asking is for the right to choose. We used to have the right to determine smoking or non-smoking, but that was taken away."

The committee is still accepting petitions through today. They plan on taking those petitions to Springfield, where they desire to appeal their case before the legislators. Their long-term goal is to present petitions with enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot, allowing the voters in the state to decide the fate of the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

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