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For more information visit the City's web site at www.cityofchicago.org.

Chicago Department of Public Health

Chicago Department of Business Affairs & Licensing

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance

General Questions

What is the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance?
A new Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance was passed by the Chicago City Council in December 2005. The ordinance replaces current law, passed in 1988, which generally requires employers to provide non-smoking areas in their workplaces and to designate them as such.

The new law is intended to protect the health of patrons and workers against the dangers of tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is known to cause cancer and heart disease, and "safe" levels of secondhand smoke have not been identified.

The new Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance regulates smoking in and near the entrance to all public buildings and enclosed workplaces and facilities. It establishes an immediate prohibition on smoking in specified public facilities; provides an opportunity for owners of restaurants with bar areas and owners of bar/taverns to allow smoking until July 1, 2008; and exempts exclusively private residences, some hotel and motel sleeping rooms, retail tobacco stores and certain private clubs or lodges from regulation.

When and where is smoking being prohibited?
As of January 16, 2006 smoking is prohibited in:

-All enclosed workplaces;

-All restaurants without a bar area;

-All restaurant areas more than 15 feet from the bar counter;

-Public places including government buildings, convention facilities, laundromats, public transportation facilities and shopping malls;

-Public restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways and other common use areas in public buildings, apartment buildings and condominium buildings;

-Within 15 feet of the entrance to enclosed public places;

-Recreational areas including enclosed sports arenas, stadiums, swimming pools, ice and roller rinks, arcades and bowling alleys; and

-City government vehicles

As of July 1, 2008 smoking will also be prohibited in:

-All Restaurants, including Restaurants with Bar Areas; and

-All Bars and Taverns

What areas are exempt from regulation under the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance?

-Private Residences. Smoking is not prohibited in private residences unless they are used as a licensed childcare, adult care facility, health care facility, or a home based business of any kind that is open to the public.

-Hotel and Motel Sleeping Rooms. Smoking is permitted in hotel and motel sleeping rooms that are rented to guests and are designated as smoking rooms. However, not more than twenty five percent (25%) of the rooms rented to guests in a hotel or motel may be designated as smoking rooms.

-Retail Tobacco Stores. Smoking is permitted in retail tobacco stores as long as the smoke from the store does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is prohibited. A "retail tobacco store" is defined as any retail store utilized primarily for the sale of tobacco products and accessories and in which the sale of other products is merely incidental and where no one under 18 is permitted.

-Private Clubs and Lodges. Private clubs and lodges, provided that the club or lodge is a not-for-profit association that has been in active and continuous existence for at least three years and has a membership of more than 50 bona fide members who pay membership dues on an annual or other periodic basis.

Smoking is also not regulated by this ordinance in unenclosed, outdoor areas that are at least 15 feet away from the entrance to an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited.

Who will be enforcing the ordinance?
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) has primary responsibility for enforcement. The Department of Business Affairs and Licensing (DBA) will work along with CDPH to ensure that licensed businesses comply with the requirements, and that bars, taverns, restaurants and restaurants with bar areas are correctly designated.

The Chicago Police Department is fully informed of the ordinance, and as with other ordinances, the Police have authority to write tickets to violators if necessary. However, because CDPH is principally responsible for enforcement, the public is advised not to call upon the Police, but to call 311 to register complaints with the Health Department about violations of the ordinance.

Business owners, operators and managers are expected to require compliance by their patrons, tenants and visitors. However, if any person becomes unruly and refuses to comply with the ordinance after once being informed by management, the business should consider contacting the Chicago Police Department rather than risk escalating the confrontation.

How will the City enforce the ordinance?
The Department of Public Health and the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing will monitor compliance with the ordinance during routine inspections.

The City will also respond to complaints made to 311. Businesses will be notified of complaints, but after the third complaint, the Department of Public Health will send inspectors to investigate the establishment.

Will the City permit smoking if an establishment installs ventilation and air filtration technology?
No. The ordinance authorizes the Departments of Public Health and Environment to promulgate regulations specifying and validating air cleaning technologies, when and if available. Those departments have confirmed that no currently available technology can meet the performance standards specified in the ordinance. The City will establish regulations for review of these technologies when and if a national accredited body or government agency (ASHRAE, EPA, NIOSH) revises their current position regarding use of technology for removal of environmental tobacco smoke.

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Building Manager Questions

People are smoking at the entry to my building. What should I do?
Smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of any entrance to an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited, including the entrance to public buildings.

Further, while smoking in private residences is exempt from the prohibitions of the ordinance, smoking within 15 feet of the entrance to lobbies, receptions areas, hallways or other common use areas of apartment and condominium buildings is also prohibited.

The owners, operators and building and facilities governed by the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance are expected to make every reasonable effort to comply with the ordinance and to ensure that their tenants, clientele and other persons comply, including asking them not to smoke within 15 feet of the entrances. Ashtrays should not be available at or within 15 feet of the entrance, and it may be appropriate and reasonable to post signage advising that smoking within 15 feet of the entrance is in violation of the law.

What should the "No Smoking" and "Smoking Permitted" signs posted in my establishment say?
Suggested language for signage is available on the City of Chicago's website at www.cityofchicago.org.

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Restaurant/Bar/Tavern Owner Questions

What are restaurants, taverns and bars being asked to do now?

Restaurants without Bar Areas:
Restaurants that do not have a bar area are subject to the smoking ban effective January 16, 2006. They must post "No Smoking" signs (language available from the City's website) and must inform persons who are violating the ordinance that they cannot smoke. Ashtrays should not be present or available in the restaurant. The owners and operators of the restaurant are expected to make every reasonable effort to comply with the ordinance, including asking their patrons to comply, refusing to serve those who do not comply and/or asking those who refuse to comply to leave the establishment.

Restaurants with Bar Areas:
Restaurants that serve alcohol and decide to permit smoking at this time must notify the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing (DBA) that their establishment is a "Restaurant with a Bar Area." (Owners of Restaurants with Bar Areas may only permit smoking within 15 feet of their bar counter.)

Owners of Restaurants with Bar Areas should define the area where smoking is permitted and indicate the designated location with appropriate signs. They should also post "No Smoking" signs (language available from the City's web site) for the remainder of the restaurant. To avoid confusion, a seating chart of the smoking and nonsmoking areas should be posted. Ashtrays should not be present or available in areas of the restaurant where smoking is not permitted.

Owners should make every reasonable effort to ensure that their patrons adhere to the ordinance by asking them to comply, by refusing to serve those who do not comply, and/or by asking those who refuse to comply to leave the establishment.

Bar/Taverns:
Bars and taverns that decide to permit smoking at this time must notify the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing (DBA) that their establishment is a "Bar/Tavern." (Bar/Taverns, defined as establishments that derive 65% or more of their revenue from the sale of alcohol, are exempt from the prohibitions of the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance until July 1, 2008.)

Owners of such Bar/Taverns should post signs (language available from this website) informing patrons that they have declared the establishment to be a Bar/Tavern and that they permit smoking.

What is the process to declare my business a smoking establishment?
Only businesses that meet the criteria for "Restaurant with Bar Area," "Bars/Taverns," and "Exempt Businesses" can permit smoking in their establishments. Such businesses must complete a Smoking Declaration Form, which is available online, and submit it to the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing by Monday, February 14, 2006. But unless a sign designating the smoking areas is posted in the business by January 16, 2006, it will be presumed that the establishment is smoke-free until the business files the declaration with the City of Chicago.

Please be advised that the declaration must be consistent with the establishment's existing business license filed with the City of Chicago. Lack of consistency may jeopardize the establishment's existing business license. For example, an establishment with an incidental liquor license that claims it is a bar or tavern for smoking purposes could jeopardize its license. The City has the right to review an establishment's books and records to confirm its status.

I am a restaurant owner and have already declared my smoking policy to the City of Chicago. Do I need to send in additional paperwork?
Although restaurant owners have been required to declare themselves as a Category 1 or Category 2 establishment since 1988, these categories no longer apply.

Accordingly, even if you own a restaurant and have declarations currently on file, you need to file the new Smoking Declaration Form with the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing if 1) you are a restaurant with a bar area, 2) you derive less than 65% of your gross proceeds from the sale of alcohol, and 3) you choose to allow smoking in your establishment, within 15 feet of the bar counter.

May I permit smoking in my establishment's outdoor patio, sidewalk café, or roof top?
If you permit smoking within your restaurant or bar/tavern (in accordance with the ordinance) and you operate an adjoining outdoor venue (patio, sidewalk café or roof top), you may also permit smoking in the outdoor venue.

If smoking is prohibited inside the establishment or if you choose to prohibit smoking inside the establishment, then smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of the entrance. You may permit smoking in any area of the patio, sidewalk café or rooftop that is more than 15 feet from the entrance.

What should the "No Smoking" and "Smoking Permitted" signs posted in my establishment say?
Suggested language for signage is available on the City of Chicago's website at www.cityofchicago.org.

Can I be fined if customers are smoking in my establishment violation of the ordinance?
Yes, you can be fined. If you own, manage, operate or otherwise control a public place or place of employment and you fail to comply with the requirements of the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance, you are guilty of an infraction punishable by a fine of $100 for the first offense and subsequent fines of as much as $2,500. Repeated violations may also lead to the suspension or revocation of permits and licenses.

The City anticipates, however, that business owners and operators and building owners and managers will comply with the requirements of the ordinance, especially when given notice by the City of citizen complaints. Inspectors from the Departments of Public Health and Business Affairs and Licensing also expect that owners, operators and managers will change their practices to conform to the law, thereby minimizing the need to issue tickets.

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Citizen and Business Patron Questions

I am at a restaurant and someone is smoking. What should I do?
First ask the manager whether the establishment is a restaurant or a bar/tavern. Eligible business establishments that choose to permit smoking should have a posted notice indicating whether it is a "Restaurant with a Bar Area" or a "Bar/Tavern."

Bar/Taverns:
Although some Bar/Taverns serve food, they are exempt from the smoking prohibitions of the ordinance until July 1, 2008. "Bar/Taverns" are defined by the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance as establishments that derive 65% or more of their gross proceeds from the sale of alcohol.

If you believe that the establishment may be falsely claiming the status of "Bar/Tavern" in order to permit smoking in a restaurant, call 311 to register a complaint.

Restaurants with Bar Areas:
Restaurants with bar areas are, until July 1, 2008, allowed to permit smoking within 15 feet of the bar counter. If smoking is occurring in a "Restaurant with a Bar Area" and the smokers are more than 15 feet from the bar counter, notify the restaurant manager first.

If the issue is not resolved after talking to the manager, call 311 to register a complaint.

Restaurants:
The Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance prohibits smoking in "Restaurants" without bar areas. If smoking is occurring in such a "Restaurant" notify the restaurant manager first.

If the issue is not resolved after talking to the manager, call 311 to register a complaint.

People are smoking at the entry to the office building where I work. What should I do?
Smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of any entrance to an enclosed area where smoking is prohibited, including office buildings.

Notify the building management first. If the issue is not resolved after talking to the manager, call 311 to register a complaint.

People are smoking at the entry to the apartment building (condominium building) where I live or visit. What should I do?
Smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of an entrance to any enclosed area where smoking is prohibited. While smoking in private residences is exempt from the prohibitions of the ordinance, smoking in, and within 15 feet of the entrance to, lobbies, reception areas, hallways or other common use areas of apartment and condominium buildings is prohibited.

Notify the building management (property manager or condominium association) first. If the issue is not resolved after talking to the manager, call 311 to register a complaint.

Is smoking permitted in Outdoor Patios, Sidewalk Cafés, and Roof Tops?
If the restaurant or bar/tavern operating the outdoor venue permits smoking inside (in accordance with the ordinance), then the establishment may also permit smoking in the outdoor venue.

If smoking is not permitted inside the establishment, then smoking is prohibited within 15 feet of the entrance. The owner may permit smoking in the area of the patio, sidewalk café or rooftop that is more than 15 feet from the entrance.

Can I be fined for smoking in areas where it is now prohibited under the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance?
Yes, you can be fined. Individuals who are smoking in areas prohibited by the ordinance are guilty of an infraction punishable by fines of up to $100.

The City anticipates, however, that residents, visitors and patrons of business establishments (including restaurants and bars) will comply with the requirements of the ordinance either because they see the posted signs or because they are asked by the responsible business owners and managers not to smoke. City enforcement agents from the Departments of Public Health, Business Affairs and Licensing, and the Chicago Police Department, also expect that smokers will comply when informed that they are smoking in an area where smoking is prohibited.

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Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance Fact Sheet

About the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance
The new Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance regulates smoking in and near the entrance to all public buildings and enclosed workplaces and facilities. It establishes an immediate prohibition on smoking in specified public facilities; provides an opportunity for owners of restaurants with bar areas and owners of bar/taverns to allow smoking until July 1, 2008; and exempts exclusively private residences, some hotel and motel sleeping rooms, retail tobacco stores and certain private clubs or lodges from regulation.

As of January 16, 2006 smoking is prohibited in:

-All enclosed workplaces;

-All restaurants without a bar area;

-All restaurant areas more than 15 feet from the bar counter;

-Public places including government buildings, convention facilities, laundromats, public transportation facilities and shopping malls;

-Public restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, hallways and other common use areas in public buildings, apartment buildings and condominium buildings;

-Within 15 feet of the entrance to enclosed public places;

-Recreational areas including enclosed sports arenas, stadiums, swimming pools, ice and roller rinks, arcades and bowling alleys; and

-City government vehicles

Smoking may be permitted in the following establishments until July 1, 2008:

-Restaurants with Bar Areas
Restaurants that serve alcohol and decide to allow smoking until July 1, 2008 will define the area where smoking is permitted and indicate the designated location with appropriate signs. Smoking is permitted only within 15 feet of the bar counter. Restaurants that do not have a bar area will not be able to permit smoking effective January 16, 2006.

-All Bars and Taverns
Bars and taverns that decide to allow smoking until July 1, 2008 should post signs informing patrons that they permit smoking.

Regulations, Fines & Fees
The Department of Public Health and the Department of Business Affairs and Licensing will monitor compliance with the ordinance during routine inspections. The City will also respond to complaints made to 311. Individuals who are smoking in areas prohibited by the ordinance are guilty of an infraction punishable by fines of up to $100.

About the Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance
A new Chicago Clean Indoor Air Ordinance was passed by the Chicago City Council in December 2005. It replaces current law, passed in 1988, which generally requires employers to provide non-smoking areas in their workplaces. The new law is intended to protect the health of patrons and workers against the dangers of tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke. Secondhand smoke is known to cause cancer and heart disease, and "safe" levels of secondhand smoke have not been identified.

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