When the state banned smoking in public a year ago, Lois Sorenson wasn't sure what to expect. Her family had operated McCormick's in Lake Bluff for over 50 years, and for over 50 years it had been a haven for smokers. The smoke never bothered Mrs. Sorenson, even though she quit smoking 43 years ago. The odor was so dense that it lingered in the bar's curtains for months after the ban took effect last January. Carefully in those first days, Mrs. Sorenson informed a group of regulars they would have to take their cigarettes outdoors now and forever after. "And you know, not one of them complained," she told GazeboNews. "They just picked up their cigarettes and went outside to smoke. Later my son-in-law built a tarp to protect them from the wind, because they go out to smoke even when it's zero degrees."
The health department points to data from the Illinois Department of Revenue, which shows a 2.6% increase in Lake County overall sales tax revenue and a 6.7% increase in tax revenue from restaurants and bars.
And while some were certain the Smoke-Free Illinois legislation would stomp out new enterprises from opening, that does not
appear to have played out. The number of liquor licenses in Illinois remained constant since the ban started. "The effect of the smoking ban on renewals is negligible if any," said Ted Penesis, Industry Education Manager at the Illinois Liquor Control Commission, in a press release. He added that he was surprised the difference was not larger due to the economy.
As for McCormick's, Mrs. Sorenson said the ban does not seem to have helped smokers kick the habit–they just go outside. Nor has it effected her business one way or the other. "The guy now comes every three months to clean the air filter,"
she said, motioning to a large contraption hanging on the wall in the
bar. "He used to come every month, so I suppose you could say
it's not helped his business much."