Monday, December 05, 2005

Quigley Proposes Countywide Ban as City Nears Smoking Votes

As the Chicago City Council approaches a rare divided vote on a proposal to eliminate secondhand smoke from public places, Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley is announcing plans to make the ban on involuntary smoke countywide.

Mike Flannery reports that ban opponents, including the Billy Goat Tavern's Sam Cianis, are still trying to block the citywide effort.

Meanwhile, the Tribune says that some Chicago alderman are scrambling desperately to split the baby, including leading ban opponent Burt Natarus, who has a competing proposal that would exempt bars.

According to the Sun-Times, Natarus is the leading fundraiser on the City Council when it comes to tobacco industry allies, with $151,830 pocketed recently.

But the idea of a compromise is a no-go with the ordinance's supporters, who believe the facts and public opinion are on their side:

Joel Africk, CEO of the American Lung Association of Metropolitan Chicago, said his group could not choose to protect only some people.

If Chicago had gone smoke-free in 1995 when an earlier Smith-like ordinance was proposed, data from other smoking ban cities suggest that 8,000 deaths here could have been prevented, Africk said.
Natarus's Ban Light will be voted on Tuesday morning before the City's Finance Committee, meanwhile ban supporters are hopeful they will have the 26 votes necessary when the American Cancer Society's version comes before the full City Council on Wednesday.

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