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 offi ces 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.

Scope of Ban

The SFIA will prohibit smoking in indoor public places and places of employment unless specifi cally exempted. It will also ban smoking in any vehicle owned, leased or operated by the State or any community, city or other political subdivision of the State. Under the Act:

  • Smoking means carrying, smoking, burning, inhaling, or exhaling any kind of lighted pipe, cigar, cigarette, hookah, weed, herbs, or any other lighted smoking equipment.
  • Public space means that portion of any building or vehicle used by and open to the public, including a minimum of 15 feet from entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes that serve an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.
  • Place of employment is any area under the control of a private or public employer that employees must enter, leave or pass through during the course of their employment, including a minimum distance of 15 feet from entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes that serve an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.
  • Employer means a person, business, partnership, association, or corporation, including a municipal corporation, trust or nonprofi t entity, that employs the services of one or more individuals.
  • Employee means a person who is employed by an employer or who volunteers his or her services for a nonprofit entity.


The SFIA will allow smoking only in the following four areas:

  • Private residences or dwelling places unless used as a child-care facility or other home-based business open to the public.
  • Retail tobacco stores that derive more than 80% of gross revenue from the sale of tobacco and related products, but not including the tobacco department or section of a larger commercial establishment, or any establishment having a liquor, food, or restaurant license.
  • Private/semiprivate rooms in nursing homes and long-term care facilities occupied by one or more persons, all of whom are smokers and have requested a smoking room, provided the smoke does not infi ltrate other areas of the facility.
  • Hotel/motel sleeping rooms (comprising not more than 25% of the total number of available rooms) designated as smoking rooms, provided that all smoking rooms on one fl oor are contiguous and that smoke does not infi ltrate nonsmoking rooms.

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-certifi ed 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 fi le 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 fl exible 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.