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Springfield Smoking Ban Extended To E-Cigarettes, Vaping

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Springfield residents will no longer be able to smoke electronic cigarettes in public places, like bars, restaurants and workplaces.

In a 10-0 vote, aldermen added electronic cigarettes and marijuana to a smoking ban approved in 2006, two years before a statewide law went into effect.

This is months ahead of a rollout of recreational marijuana in Illinois, which becomes legal in January.

Ward 9 Ald. Jim Donelan — who proposed the rules — says it’s a matter of public health.

“The focus of this ordinance is the individuals that are in the restaurant and someone is next to them might be vaping and they’re inhaling this product and that didn’t sit well with me,” he said after the meeting.

Kathy Drea, senior director of advocacy for the American Lung Association in Illinois, said she supports the new measure, but would prefer a statewide ban on e-cigarettes.

“We know that they can cause irreversible lung damage and lung disease. So we need to make sure that people know this,” she said.

The new rules come as public health agencies around the country are reporting illnesses linked to e-cigarettes or vaping. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 215 cases of pulmonary disease, including one death in Illinois, have been reported.

The new restrictions transfer enforcement of the smoking ban from the Sangamon County Health Department to the Springfield Police Department and other city officials.

“I would foresee it being more... complaint driven,” said Mayor Jim Langfelder. He said the public works department would likely help with enforcement.

Thirty-one municipalities in Illinois have restrictions on where residents can use e-cigarettes, according to the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, which tracks restrictions across the country.

City officials changed the ban from a version discussed last week. People will be able to use e-cigarettes in tobacco shops. A similar exemption is in the Smoke-Free Illinois Act for shops  where more than 80 percent of revenue is from the sale of tobacco products.

Those who do smoke in public places can be fined between $50 and $300. Businesses that don’t comply with the rules can be fined $50 on the first offense, $200 on the second, and up to $500 on any following offenses within the next year.

That money previously went to enforcement and education efforts, but now Langfelder said it will go into the city’s general fund, which pays for most city operations.

Mary Hansen is a former NPR Illinois reporter.
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