Friday, March 27, 2009

IL may offer smoking ban exemption

(Article link at bottom)

Burlington (IA) Hawk Eye, 2009-03-25

Since Illinois' smoking ban went into effect 15 months ago, the law already has been amended once to clarify enforcement.

Now, Sen. John Sullivan, D-Rushville, is seeking to make it even clearer.

Unlike Iowa, Illinois failed to provide an exception for religious ceremonies in its statewide smoking ban.

"If we can make our case to our members here why we're doing what it is what we're doing, there seems to be good support for it," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said opponents contend that federal law already addresses the religious exemption. . . .

A constituent and member of the Standing Bear Council, Larry Cooper came forward and told him otherwise. In fact, Cooper said he's been fighting for a religious exemption for more than six months prior to the ban's enactment. . .

Cooper, a member of the Chickamaka Cherokee tribe, took a copy of the act to the places where he intended to perform a ceremony, and tried to explain, but invariably the owners cited Illinois' state law.

"We've always had to bend," Cooper said. "The bending is over. I'm not bending for nobody. If they won't accept us there, we won't be there."

He said the Native American tradition always has been that tobacco is a sacred herb, whether it is burned or not.

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