Right now, a bill is being considered that would allow exemptions to Illinois’ smoke-free air law. The evidence hasn’t changed that secondhand smoke kills thousands every year. So why should we weaken protections against this toxin? 

Our smoke-free air law saves lives. In addition to protecting people from deadly secondhand smoke, it encourages smokers to quit or cut down their use and prevents young people from ever picking up a cigarette. 

These are immediate and long-term health benefits for both smokers and non-smokers alike. And that’s good for businesses and for workers. I’m disappointed in the House committee members who voted in favor of these exemptions. 

When we allow certain establishments to be exempt from these laws, we make clean air a privilege, instead of a right. Everyone — regardless of where they work, live or spend their free time — deserves to breathe clean air. 

Sen. Landek and Rep. Zalewski, I urge you to protect public health and fight back against any efforts to weaken the smoke-free air law.

Judy Rospenda