Thursday, March 20, 2008

Smoking Ban Won't Play in Peoria!

By Michael J. McFadden (Smoking Royalty)

On March 19th, 2008, The Peoria Journal-Star reported a story ( http://www.pjstar.com/stories/031908/REG_BG3I... ) that will have wide ranging repercussions for smoking bans all around the USA and maybe overseas as well. Prosecutors for the State of Illinois admitted to the courts that " the statute does not put any onus on the bar employee or bar owner to prohibit smoking," and that they had no authority to file a formal charge against a bar that failed to stop its customers from lighting up.

While this ruling applies just to the state of Illinois, it can't fail to be heard in their neighboring state of Iowa, in the troubled bars of nearby Ohio (where health investigators entering bars to check for smoking have refused to tell customers to stop smoking during their visits with the defense of "We can't make them stop. We're not police."), on the bar-theater stages of Minnesota where desperate taverns have resorted to staging "smoking plays" in which every smoker is a thespian, and in many other states where government has tried to indenture hospitality employees to act as Junior G-Men without badges.

Bartenders themselves might still get fined if they smoke while on duty, and a bar might be fined if they fail to display "No Smoking" signs or if they provide fire-safety devices (ashtrays) for customers, but it has now been made crystal clear that the days of "Undercover Secret Smoking Police" in Illinois are over. And whether the state has the guts to enforce an ashtray ban that might leave them liable for fire deaths and damages seems unlikely.

As news of this event spreads it's likely that most small bars and probably even a good number of restaurants will go back to turning a blind eye to smoking customers who make up a sizeable percentage of their trade. They may seek to cover themselves legally by "informing" customers of the law, and they may take special pains to display the proper signage, but the days of Illinois' smoking customers universally being grabbed by the scruff of the neck and tossed to the gutter are over.

Spring Valley's Family Tavern, bartender Karla Carrington, and Peoria legal eagle Dan O'Day have fired a puff of smoke into the air that will be seen around the world! Wherever else bans may have played in the past, they flopped big time when they tried to take center stage in Peoria!

Michael J. McFadden Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

http://encyclopedia.smokersclub.com/130.html Reference for police quote:(Feb. 3rd, "Bars slow to snuff smoking" by Matthew Marx, Columbus Dispatch)