The Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act

Giving Illinois A Breath of Fresh Air

Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act/July 1, 1990

Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act

Over the past 15 years, a number of Illinois communities have passed local laws that restrict smoking in public places. Now all Illinois citizens will have the benefit of some protection from secondhand smoke.

When the Clean Indoor Air Act (P.A. 86-1018) was signed into law on January 9, 1990, Illinois joined 44 other states and over 400 local governments that limit smoking in public places. This new law takes effect on July 1, 1990, and changes the way building owners, employers, government officials, and school administrators will deal with smoking on their property.

In the past, when you entered a building, you could assume that it was okay to smoke unless “No Smoking” signs were posted. Beginning July 1, everyone must assume that all places are NONSMOKING unless an area is designated for smoking. An owner may designate an entire place as nonsmoking; however, with few exceptions, a whole building may not be designated as a smoking area.

Why This Act Is Important

  • 75% of the adult American population are nonsmokers.
  • There is a growing awareness that secondhand tobacco smoke is a health hazard for nonsmokers.
  • Government has an obligation to protect its citizens from known health hazards.

What Places Are Covered By The Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act?

Any enclosed indoor area used by the public or serving as a place of work is covered by this law. Examples include:

  • Offices
  • Elevators
  • Libraries
  • Concert Halls
  • Nursing Homes
  • Hospitals
  • Art Museums
  • Auditoriums
  • Restaurants
  • Retail Stores
  • Arenas
  • Meeting Rooms
  • Indoor Theatres
  • Public Transportation
  • Commercial Establishments
  • Educational Facilities

Places not covered are:

  • Bowling Alleys
  • Bars
  • Hotel Rooms
  • Private, enclosed offices occupied only by smokers
  • Factories, warehouses, and similar places of work not usually visited by the public, although the public and office areas of these locations would be covered.

Illinois Communities With Existing Clean Indoor Air Laws

Home-rule communities with a local clean indoor air law prior to October 1, 1989, will be covered by their local law instead of the state law. Those communities are:

  • Arlington Heights
  • Champaign
  • Chicago
  • DeKalb
  • Des Plaines
  • Downers Grove
  • Elgin
  • Elmhurst
  • Evanston
  • Highland Park
  • Hoffman Estates
  • Northbrook
  • Oak Park
  • Park Ridge
  • Shaumburg
  • Skokie
  • Urbana
  • Wilmette

How To Comply With The Law

Management must make reasonable efforts to prevent smoking in public places except in designated smoking areas. Examples of reasonable efforts include:

  • Posting appropriate signs
  • Using existing barriers and ventilation to protect nonsmokers
  • Contacting enforcement officials

When a hall or room is rented for a private event such as a meeting or reception, the person renting the room will decide the smoking policy for the event.

How Do I Make A Complaint?

For the most part, clean indoor air laws have worked because most people choose to obey the laws. However, if you feel a person or business is not following the law, you may do any or all of the following.

  • People may not know about the law. You can explain the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act and ask that they follow it.
  • Call your local health department and make a complaint. They will call the owner to tell them about the law and how to comply. Repeat violators will be referred to the State’s Attorneys Office.
  • When possible, use only businesses that do obey the law. Be sure to let places that do not follow the law know why you are no longer a patron.
  • Take legal action against repeat offenders through the circuit court.

Who Will Know If I File A Complaint?

The name of the person who files a complaint is confidential information and cannot be revealed. Section 9 of the Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act specifically forbids discrimiation against any person for exercising rights provided by this Act.

Legal Aspects

The Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act requires that all public places, as defined by the law, be nonsmoking except where a designated smoking area may be established. It does not require that a designated smoking area be established and does not give smokers the “right” to smoke in a public facility or place of work.

Smoking is not a protected right under the United States Constitution, Federal or State statute. Courts are beginning to decide cases in favor of nonsmokers affected by smoke under laws that protect those with handicaps or disabilities. Recent decisions have also held employers accountable for tobacco smoke as a hazardous substance in the workplace. Employers have been expected to protect workers from its effects, particularly if a firm restricts smoking in some areas in an attempt to protect equipment and other material from smoke damage.

How Can I Get More Information?

Contact any of the following organizations:

American Cancer Society/Illinois Division
(800) ACS-2345
American Heart Association (Cook, Dupage, and Lake Counties)
(312) 346-4675
American Heart Association/Illinois Affiliate
(800) 252-8511
American Lung Association of Illinois
(217) 528-3441
Chicago Lung Association (Cook County)
(312) 243-2000
Illinois Cancer Council
(800) 4-CANCER
Illinois Department of Health
(217) 785-2060
Illinois Interagency Council For A Tobacco-Free Society
(312) 243-0283
Kankakee County Health Department
(815) 802-9410

If none of the above apply, you can contact your local public health department.

Funded in part by a grant from the National Cancer Institute No. RO1CA46668