Tableside Service in Smoking Areas Could End

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By WSIL Reporter

WSIL -- It could soon be harder for smokers to get service on patios and in beer gardens at restaurants and bars.


Health officials are considering tightening the state's smoking ban to protect food service workers. But some wonder how effective the move will be.


Smoking has been banned in Illinois bars and restaurants since 2008, but people can still light up outside as long as they are at least 15 feet away from the building.


Now, a public health panel may tighten that rule, ending tableside service in outdoor smoking areas.


"We want to make sure that we're following the intent of the original smoke free Illinois act and that is to make sure that employees don't have to work in second hand smoke," says Ilinois Department of Public Health spokesperson Melanie Arnold.


This could pose problems for restaurant patios, beer gardens, decks and rooftops. If those outdoor areas allow smoking, they'd have to be self service.


Local businesses question how effective the change would be.


Sarah Switzer, Manager at Von Jakob, says second hand smoke is a hazard that comes with the industry.


"I believe that they know that when they come into this job or at least they should or we should make that apparent to them before they start," she says.


Switzer says her business would never intentionally make a server work the patio, if they felt strongly about it.


But at the same time, this proposed change wouldn't be a blanket solution.


"I don't think it will make as big of a difference as they think it might. Our servers are still exposed to the smoke no matter what," says Switzer.


The public will have 45 days to comment on the proposed change in the smoking law.
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