Chicago adopts 100% comprehensive smoke-free ordinance

The Chicago City Council votes to amend the Chicago Clean Indoor Air ordinance to make all places of employment, including restaurants, bars and sporting venues, 100% smoke-free.  The ordinance, sponsored by Alderman Ed Smith, is the at the time the strongest municipal smoke-free ordinance in the country.  The ordinance is the result of a two year long campaign by Respiratory Health Association and its partners, including public health organizations, nurses, medical students, and faith organizations.  The ordinance was also supported by 150 local restaurant owners, led by Ina Pickney, Glen Keefer, and Dan Rosenthal, as the coalition “Chefs & Owners United for Good Health (“Health”). Ordinance goes into effect January 16, 2006.

Preemption of local smoke-free laws repealed

Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco (ICAT) and partners successfully urge Illinois General Assembly to change statewide law to allow local communities to pass comprehensive smoke-free laws.  Governor Blagojevich signs the law August 10, effective January 1, 2006.  Shortly thereafter, Deerfield enacts a smoke-free ordinance, becoming the first community in the state to take advantage of renewed local control.  In 2006, 30 Illinois communities used this new power to go smoke-free, the most ever in a calendar year anywhere in the U.S.

First 100% comprehensive municipal smoke-free ordinances

Wilmette, one of the 21 communities exempt from state preemption, passes the first 100% comprehensive smoke-free ordinance in Illinois.  The ordinance prohibits smoking in publically accessible places, including restaurants, bars, and clubs.  The ordinance was supported by Wilmette residents Joel Africk, RHA President & CEO, and Diana Hackbarth, ICAT member and RHA Board of Directors.  Wilmette would soon be followed by Evanston and Skokie (2004), and Highland Park (2005).

Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement provides 25 years’ worth of tobacco-control funding to Illinois

Nation’s largest tobacco manufacturers enter into the “Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement” with 46 state Attorneys General over tobacco-related Medicaid costs. Tobacco companies agree to pay $206 billion to the states over 25 years for tobacco prevention and education efforts and to cease certain marketing practices, including marketing to youth, outdoor billboards, transit ads, and sponsorship of sporting events and concerts.  Funding also establishes the American Legacy Foundation, now The Truth.  Illinois will receive $9.1 billion dollars through 2025.  These funds help fund tobacco control programs by the state, county, and local health departments.

Since the creation of the Tobacco Settlement Fund, Respiratory Health Association has worked with state and local health departments to implement evidence-based secondhand smoke youth tobacco initiation prevention efforts.  In addition, RHA has used its strength in advocacy to ensure that this tobacco control funding is made available each year.  As the State of Illinois has ran into budget problems, state tobacco control funding is often put in jeopardy.  Of the $250 million in settlement payments from the tobacco manufacturers each year, the state generally allocated only around $10 million per year for prevention and cessation programs.  When the Illinois General Assembly failed to pass a budget in 2015 and 2016, this crucial public health funding was put in jeopardy.  With concerned community members and other leading public health organizations, RHA mounted a successful advocacy effort to get the settlement funding reinstated.  This ensured that all certified local health departments across the state were able to continue their tobacco prevention and cessation programs.

First statewide clean indoor air law

Illinois General Assembly adopts the first Illinois Clean Indoor Air Act.  The Act establishes separate smoking and non-smoking areas in restaurants and prohibits smoking in certain publicly accessible buildings, but preempts most communities in Illinois from adopting smoke-free laws.  Twenty-one municipalities with existing smoke-free laws are exempted from preemption and allowed to pass stronger laws.  Act goes into effect July 1, 1990.

First Chicago clean indoor air ordinance

Chicago passes its first clean air ordinance, requiring separate smoking and non-smoking sections in restaurants, airports, train stations, and bus depots.  While a small handful of Illinois municipalities had established non-smoking restaurant sections over the previous decade, Chicago’s ordinance would set off a chain reaction of municipalities following suit.  During this time public health organizations like RHA would advocate for stronger health protections, while tobacco industry lobbyists worked to preempt more ordinances from being passed.

Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco formed

Respiratory Health Association (then Cook County Tuberculosis Institute), American Heart Association of Metropolitan Chicago (then Chicago Heart Association), and other local health organizations form the Illinois Interagency Coordinating Committee on Smoking and Health.  The committee works in conjunction with the National Interagency Council on Smoking and Health.  The committee focuses its first meetings on the issue of tobacco company sponsorship of sporting events and other large public events.  Over the years the council would change its name to Illinois Interagency Council on Smoking and Health (1967), Illinois Interagency Council on Smoking and Disease (1970), Illinois Interagency Council for a Tobacco-free Society (1989) and finally, Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco (ICAT) (1991).  Respiratory Health Association board members, Diana Hackbarth and Janet Williams, were early participants to ICAT.  Through the 80s and 90s ICAT would fight against big tobacco sponsorship of public events and would advocate for state and local clean indoor laws.  The group played a prominent role in passing the Chicago Clean Indoor Act as well as the Smoke-free Illinois Act.  Today, ICAT members include Respiratory Health Association, American Lung Association in Illinois, American Heart Association of Metropolitan Chicago, American Cancer Society in Illinois, and the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians.

Surgeon General’s report on smoking and health kick-starts tobacco control efforts

Responding to pressure from public health organizations, President John F Kennedy authorizes Surgeon General Luther L Terry to convene an Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health.  After two years of reviewing more than 7,000 studies on smoking and health, Surgeon General Terry, issues the landmark report concluding that smoking increases the mortality rate of smokers. The report links smoking to increased risk of lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and coronary heart disease. While government officials had taken stances against smoking for at least a decade prior, the report is the first published stance by the U.S. government on tobacco use.  The Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health ultimately calls upon Congress to take “appropriate remedial action.”  This bold action from the U.S.’s leading medical authority kick-starts tobacco control movements across the U.S., including Illinois.

Subsequent Surgeon General reports would likewise boost smoke-free efforts in later decades. In 1986, U.S. Surgeon General, C. Everett Koop, would issue the first U.S. government report on the dances of “involuntary smoking,” now known as secondhand smoke, which concluded that “the judgment can now be made that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke can cause disease, including lung cancer, in nonsmokers.” In 2006, the Surgeon General would update this report to declare that no level of exposure to secondhand smoke is safe.  These reports provided the definitive medical support to the movement that would lead to nearly 100 smoke-free laws passed in Illinois.

Chicago Quits Network Launched

RHA is awarded funding to implement a citywide strategy in Chicago to increase smoking cessation capacity in communities with the highest smoking rates. RHA’s program, Chicago Quits, builds a network of 20+ health care, social services and other community-based partners committed to helping people quit smoking.

Courage to Quit and Fight Asthma Now Programs Expand Reach

Respiratory Health Association trains health educators outside Chicago in its two signature programs, Courage to Quit®, an evidence-based program to help people (particularly members of populations vulnerable to tobacco) quit smoking, and Fight Asthma Now©, RHA’s asthma self-management course for school-aged children. National Urban League® hires RHA to train tobacco program staff from Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington, and Breathe DC hires RHA to teach asthma educators in Washington D.C. how to deliver Fight Asthma Now© (RHA had previously trained personnel in Los Angeles Unified School District in the program). During 2016, RHA’s smoking cessation and asthma programs reach 5,000+ people.