As Chicago celebrates another New Year’s Eve, we not only bid farewell to 2007, but also to smelling like freshly used ashtrays when we venture home from the bar. As part of a highly publicized state-wide ban—the Smoke Free Illinois Act—smoking in a public indoor facility is strictly forbidden,and, yes, that includes bars and clubs. It’s a polarizing issue. Most applaud the new law, for health reasons, as the restriction obviously protects patrons and bar employees from secondhand smoke. Smokers, as expected, are quite unhappy. There are many elements to consider when pondering the consequences—bars will surely lose some identity, push out some regulars and receive more noise complaints than ever as smokers are banished outside to get their fix. Of course, we’ll all be a bit healthier, we’ll breathe better and we won’t have to wash our clothes as much.
We talked to some fellow Chicagoans (and some Californians, too) to get a feel for what’s to come for our newly no-puff town.