Jan. 1 of this year marked the five-year anniversary of The Smoke Free Illinois Act, which made all indoor public spaces and workplaces in the state smoke-free. In 2008, Illinois was the 22nd state to adopt a comprehensive smoke-free policy; since then, eight more have followed the lead.
Evanston was among the first communities to pass a smoke-free ordinance, largely due to the involvement of passionate volunteers, including Donald Zeigler, chair of the Evanston Community Health Advisory Council.
“I was honored to have been part of the advocacy effort that persuaded Evanston to go smoke-free,” Mr. Zeigler said. “We’re proud that we helped raise awareness about the hazards of secondhand smoke and the benefits of clean air policy, encouraged other communities to adopt similar measures, and ultimately created sufficient pressure that our legislators in Springfield could not ignore,” he added
“The Smoke Free Illinois Act is one of the most significant public health victories in Illinois the last 10 years,” said Joel Africk, president and chief executive officer of Respiratory Health Association. “As a result of this law, fewer Illinoisans are exposed to secondhand smoke, and fewer young people are picking up cigarettes in the first place. Quite simply, this policy saves lives.”
The anniversary comes as many Illinoisans begin their new year’s reso-lutions to quit smoking. An estimated 70 percent of smokers say they want to quit, and smoke-free laws are proven to help people succeed in their quit attempts. Since the act went into effect on Jan. 1, 2008, smoking rates in Illinois have declined.