Illinois Bans Smoking in Places of Employment – January 1, 2008

Illinois employers should be aware that The Smoke Free Illinois Act (“SFIA”) goes into effect on January 1, 2008. The SFIA prohibits smoking in public places, places of employment, and governmental vehicles. Specifically, the law prohibits smoking in indoor public places and places of employment unless specifically exempted. It will also ban smoking in vehicles owned, leased or operated by the State or any community, city or other political subdivision of the State. For purposes of interpretation, “place of employment” is defined as any area under the control of a private or public employer that employees must enter, leave or pass through during the course of their employment, including areas within 15 feet of entrances, exits, windows that open, and ventilation intakes that serve an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.

In addition, the SFIA requires employers to post no smoking signs in areas covered by the smoking ban. Ashtrays must be removed from those areas. Violators of the SFIA shall be fined not less than $250 for the first violation, not less than $500 for the second violation within one year after the first violation and not less than $2,500 for each additional violation within one year after the first violation. The Act also prohibits discrimination against persons exercising rights pursuant to the SFIA.

Employers are permitted to designate non-enclosed (outside) areas as smoking areas, so long as the designated area is not within 15 feet of an entrance, exit, window that opens, or ventilation intake that serves an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.