Friday, March 30, 2007

THANK THESE SENATORS

For people who understand the facts about secondhand smoke, the vote yesterday by the Illinois Senate to make Illinois smoke free is a no-brainer. But we can't lose sight of the fact that our opponents are devoting vast resources toward pressuring legislators to vote against public health.

The following Senators exhibited uncommon courage and good sense in supporting SB 500 yesterday. Please take a moment today to call them or write them to show your thanks. You can click on their name to get their contact information:

Sen. Larry Bomke -- Springfield
*Sen. Jacqueline Collins -- Chicago
*Sen. Dan Cronin -- Elmhurst
Sen. Michael Bond
Sen. Maggie Crotty -- Oak Forest
*Sen. John Cullerton -- Chicago
Sen. James DeLeo -- Chicago
Sen. William Delgado -- Chicago
Sen. Kirk Dillard -- Hinsdale
*Sen. Susan Garrett -- Lake Forest
Sen. Debbie Halvorson -- Crete
*Sen. Don Harmon -- Oak Park
Sen. Rickey Hendon -- Chicago
*Sen. Randy Hultgren -- Winfield
*Sen. Mattie Hunter -- Chicago
Sen. David Koehler -- Peoria
Sen. Dan Kotowski -- Park Ridge
Sen. Kimberly Lightford -- Chicago
*Sen. Terry Link -- Waukegan
*Sen. Edward Maloney -- Chicago
*Sen. Iris Martinez -- Chicago
Sen. James Meeks -- Chicago
Sen. John Millner -- St. Charles
Sen. Matt Murphy -- Palatine
Sen. Michael Noland -- Elgin
*Sen. Carole Pankau -- Roselle
Sen. William Peterson -- Long Grove
*Sen Christine Radogno -- Lemont
Sen. Kwame Raoul -- Chicago
*Sen. Carol Ronen -- Chicago
*Sen. Jeffrey Schoenberg -- Evanston
*Sen. Todd Sieben -- Geneseo
*Sen. Ira Silverstein -- Chicago
*Sen. Louis Viverito -- Burbank


* -- Indicates Senator was a sponsor of SB 500

Thank you to all of these Senators for their support!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

SMOKE FREE ILLINOIS CLEARS THE SENATE!!!!!

Months and months of hard work paid off this evening as SB 500 cleared the Illinois State Senate by a vote of 34-23-1

You can view the roll call here

A huge thanks to the members of the Illinois State Senate who showed the courage to vote for this important measure -- and most importantly, our thanks to Senators Terry Link and John Cullerton, whose leadership was critical in getting us to this point.

The work continues. The next battleground is the House of Representatives, and the quest for 60 votes there.

In the meantime, please take a moment to thank your Senators who voted for this important measure. You can get their contact information by clicking here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Chicago Sun-Times: It's Time Illinois Went Smoke-Free!

Chicago Sun-Times
Editorial
March 28, 2007

Learning to breathe free:
Ban secondhand smoke


Many of us remember the time when secondhand smoke was such a minor concern, there wasn't even a term to describe it. Now, a majority of Americans, including 78 percent of Illinois voters in a recent survey, believe it poses a serious health risk. A report last year from the U.S. surgeon general added considerable weight to the cause by saying secondhand smoke leads to 46,000 deaths a year from heart disease and thousands of deaths from cancer and other ailments.

As in many other parts of the country, various cities and towns in Illinois have banned smoking in public places. But for all the support for such ordinances, there remain areas throughout the state where smokers have it easier. Two weeks ago, the Cook County Clear Indoor Air Ordinance took effect, but not in municipalities such as Cicero and Berwyn, which scrambled to beat it to the punch by passing less restrictive ordinances -- ones allowing restaurants and bars to designate smoking and nonsmoking areas. Such is the patchwork nature of anti-smoking legislation; if you don't like the rules in the town you're in, there's a good chance you can escape them in the next one over.

Which is where the Smoke Free Illinois Act, a pair of matching bills in the state Senate and House, comes in. The Senate bill is expected to be put to a full vote this week. (The deadline for the House bill is late April.) If the act passes, it will level the nonsmoking playing field by barring smoking in workplaces, bars and restaurants, dormitories and such all across Illinois. (The effective date will be delayed for casinos to allow them a period of adjustment.)

Supporters of Smoke Free Illinois, including its chief sponsor in the Senate, Terry Link (D-Vernon Hills), are cautiously optimistic it will pass. But with Senate President Emil Jones and Senate Republican Leader Frank Watson withholding their support, the vote will be close. The pressure to vote against it comes largely from the business community. Restaurant owners claim, in the face of evidence to the contrary, smoking bans drive diners away and they themselves should decide what their smoking policy is.

Were it not for the certifiable risk secondhand smoke poses to restaurant employees and other people who are involuntarily exposed to it, we would sympathize with restaurateurs. But though we wish the act included a provision similar to the one in Chicago's ordinance permitting smoking in tobacco shops/bars where 65 percent of the sales are of tobacco or tobacco accessories, we believe its time has come and urge its passage. Twenty-one other states have responded to popular consensus on this issue. It's time Illinois did, too.


This represents the view of Sun-Times News Group newspapers in metropolitan Chicago.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Daily Smoke-Free News

Support passage of state smoking ban - Pantagraph

Owners say smoking ban snuffed pool hall - Daily Herald

North Aurora candidates discuss downtown, activity center - Daily Herald

Council hopefuls emerge - Kane County Chronicle

Smoking debate once again before council - Quincy Herald-Whig

Monday, March 26, 2007

Critical Week Ahead

Every week it seems like the stakes in this battle to make Illinois Smoke Free get higher and higher. This week is no exeception.

This is a truly critical week in the Smoke Free Illinois campaign, as the end of this week represents the deadline for all Senate Bills to be passed out of the Illinois Senate.

In other words, we have until the end of the week to pass SB 500.

We need you to pull out the stops this week. You must let your State Senator know that you are watching what they do.

You can do two things to help put us over the top:

1) Go to our action alert, which has been set up in the top, left corner of our home page (or you can just go to this link), and use that handly tool to email all of the key State Senators we need for success.

2) Personally call and/or fax a letter to your State Senator. You can find out who your State Senator and get their contact information by going to this link and entering your zip code.

Now is the time. Please take action, make your voice heard!