Chicago has had its own Clean Indoor Air Ordinance since 1988, and this law has been strengthened over the years to better protect the health of all Chicagoans, as well as visitors to our city.
The current and strongest version of the ordinance took effect in 2008 and prohibits smoking in virtually all enclosed public places and enclosed places of employment, including but not necessarily limited to bars, restaurants, shopping malls, recreational facilities (including enclosed sports arenas, stadiums, swimming pools, ice and roller rinks, arcades and bowling alleys), concert halls, auditoriums, convention facilities, government buildings and vehicles, public transportation facilities, coin laundries, meeting rooms, private clubs, public restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways and other common-use areas in public buildings, apartment buildings and condominium buildings;
The ordinance also prohibits smoking within 15 feet of the entrance of these establishments.
The ordinance exempts private residences (except residences that are used as day care facilities or any other business to which the public is invited), some hotel and motel sleeping rooms, and retail tobacco stores.
Additionally, the law reminds owners and managers of buildings and other spaces not covered by the ordinance that they may declare their buildings and other spaces to be smoke-free; and it encourages them to do so.
The ordinance is enforced by the Chicago Department of Public Health and the Chicago Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.
All Chicagoans (as well as visitors to the city) who see violations of the Clean Indoor Air Ordinance are encouraged to take action. Contact the manager of the business or building in question. Tell them what you saw, and give them a reasonable chance to investigate and address the situation. If they are unresponsive, pick up the phone and call 311 to report it---or report the situation online through the City of Chicago website.
A report of a violation automatically triggers a letter to the establishment from the Chicago Department of Public Health. The letter alerts them to the allegation, reminds them of the law on the books and the expectation of compliance, and reminds them of the penalties associated with non-compliance.
A third report of an alleged violation (within a 12-month period) triggers an inspection by the Health Department. Fines start at $250 and can reach $2,500 per offense for repeat offenders (building or business owners/operators who allow the law to be violated on their premises.)
Individuals who smoke in areas prohibited by the ordinance are guilty of an infraction punishable by fines up to $250.
Chicago's Clean Indoor Air Ordinance is a success. More than two years after the law was strengthened, compliance with the ordinance is widespread. In a city with literally hundreds of thousands of public places and places of employment, the City receives an average of only about two dozen reports of violations a month.
To read the text of the ordinance, click here.
To learn about no-smoking laws elsewhere in Illinois, click here.