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Local health departments seek to improve Smoke Free Illinois

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[November 11, 2008]  SPRINGFIELD -- The statewide association that represents certified local health departments located outside the Chicago metropolitan area is urging state lawmakers to fix the current no-smoking law in Illinois.

Smoke Free Illinois, the law that prohibits smoking in all public places, took effect on Jan. 1. However, since that time there has been limited enforcement of the act across the state due to legal challenges and technical flaws in the present statute.

According to Stephen Laker, president of the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators, there is proposed legislation in the state Senate currently that addresses many of the technical flaws within the enforcement section of the act. "We believe that the proposed legislation improves a much-needed no-smoking regulation for Illinois and will eliminate a majority of the legal challenges and questions that currently exist concerning the enforcement of Smoke Free Illinois," Laker said.

However, with just a few days remaining in November for the General Assembly to consider legislation, the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators is concerned that the statutory improvements for Smoke Free Illinois will not be debated.

Greg Chance, legislative chairman for the association, said: "Senate members need to pass this legislation to eliminate confusion across the state of Illinois regarding the interpretation of the Smoke Free Illinois Act. Without these technical improvements to the enforcement language within the current state law, local agencies and state's attorneys will remain somewhat reluctant to seek enforcement of the no-smoking regulations."

At this time, the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators is working with other public health advocacy groups to encourage leadership within the state Senate to vote on the proposed amendment to the Smoke Free Illinois Act during the November veto session.

[Text from news release from the Illinois Association of Public Health Administrators; file received from the Logan County Department of Public Health]

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