Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act
On January 1, 2008, the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act will be replaced by the Smoke Free Illinois Act (SFIA). Citing studies showing that secondary smoke causes serious diseases and cannot be reduced to safe levels by ventilation or air filters, the Illinois General Assembly has concluded that the only means of eliminating the health risks associated with indoor exposure to secondhand smoke is to eliminate smoking activities indoors. With very few exemptions, the new law will prohibit smoking in any public place or place of employment, and within 15 feet of any entrance to a public place or place of employment. Compliance with the new law is required by January 1, 2008.
Illinois law currently allows smoking in many public areas and workplaces, including bowling alleys, bars whose primary business is selling alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises, private enclosed offices occupied by smokers even though visited by nonsmokers, and factories, warehouses and similar businesses not usually frequented by the general public. It also allows the establishment of posted smoking areas within public places (including workplaces). None of these exemptions will be allowed under the new law.
No-Smoking Signs and Ashtray Removal
The SFIA will require that “No Smoking” signs be clearly and conspicuously posted in each public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited, and at every entrance to such public place or workplace. The signs may be the international “No Smoking” symbol. The owner, operator, manager or other person in control of the facility will be responsible for posting the signs and removing ashtrays from any area where smoking is prohibited.
Enforcement and Penalties
The SFIA will be enforced by the Illinois Department of Health, State-certified local public health departments, and local law enforcement agencies. Complaints of violations may be registered by any person, and the Department of Health will issue a telephone number to be called for this purpose.
A person who smokes in violation of the Act will be fined not less than $100 or more than $250 for each violation. A person who owns, operates, or otherwise controls a public place or place of employment that violates the Act will be fined not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation within a year of the first violation, and not less than $2,500 for each additional violation within that year. Each day that a violation occurs will be considered a separate violation. Any of the departments or agencies that enforce the Act, or any individual personally affected by repeated violations of the Act, may file an action in a circuit court to enjoin further violations.
Impact on Employers
Many Illinois employers permit their employees to smoke indoors, often in a dedicated area such as a break room or portion of a cafeteria, or outside the facility next to a front or side entrance. Some employers also allow supervisors or managers to smoke in their offices or in meeting rooms. All of this will change under the SFIA, and employers should start making adjustments soon in order to be in compliance by January 1.
Employees should be advised of the new law, and of management’s intent to change workplace policies and practices to comply with the new law. Employees should be reminded of any Company-sponsored programs available to help them quit smoking. If an employer sponsors a healthcare flexible spending account program (FSA), consideration should be given to reminding employees that the costs of smoking cessation programs and nicotine patches and gum may be reimbursed through the FSA.
If smoking will be permitted outside the facility, care should be taken to designate an area that is at least 15 feet from any entrance, exit, window that can be opened, or intake vent. “No Smoking” signs should be ordered, and responsibility should be assigned for posting the signs and removing any ashtrays prior to January 1.