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.
In 2014, the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Act was updated to include e-cigarettes in the law. Chicago was the first of the 20 largest U.S. cities to propose legislation to include e-cigarettes in their clean indoor air law.
Following Chicago's lead, New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco also introduced legislation to add e-cigarettes to their smokefree laws. All of these cities enacted their laws (along with Chicago) in April 2014. To date, more than 100 jurisdictions in the U.S. prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in areas where smoking combustile cigarettes is not allowed.
In addition to ensuring everyone has the right to breathe clean indoor air, smoke-free laws create an environment that encourages smokers to quit and discourages kids from smoking. Legislation to include e-cigarettes in Chicago's smoke-free law will preserve these benefits.
The current and most recent version of the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking as well as "vaping" or the use of an e-cigarette, vape pen, or e-hookah in virtually all enclosed public places and enclosed places of employment.
The places where smoking and the use of e-cigarettes is prohibited includes:
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, retail tobacco stores and vape shops.
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 Act 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 Act is a success. Research has proven this ordinance is a life-saving measure that had dramatically improved the health of Chicago residents. The policy is popular, too, and compliance with the ordinance is widespread. 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.