The Chicago City Council’s ordinance to ban smoking in all public places by January and completely in bars and restaurants by 2008 will have minimal impact on Austin and other West Side taverns, 28th Ward Ald. Ed Smith insists.

Smith, who also chairs the council’s Health Committee, led the effort to make Chicago smoke-free. The city council approved the ordinance in early December. The public ban takes effect Jan. 16, but the city council has given bars and restaurants 2 years to comply with the ordinance. By July 1, 2008, virtually all indoor Chicago public places will be smoke-free.

“It’s a movement that’s happening all over the world,” said Smith, who spent nearly three years laying the groundwork for the ban.

Smith said he considered what impact the ban would have on Austin and other West Side taverns. He predicted any impact would not permanently drive away loyal patrons.

“For two years and eight months, I have thought about it,” Smith said of his decision. “We don’t want to hurt any businesses. That certainly was never our intent. It may have a bit of an impact but in time [patrons] are going to come back because these are the businesses in their community.”

The city council’s new smoking ban wasn’t the only blow to smokers in the last month or so. Smokers had their butts kicked a second time after Cook County Board President John Stroger proposed another increase on cigarette taxes. Chicago smokers will have to cough up an additional $1 tax, bringing taxes on a single pack of cigarettes to $4.05, if approved by the Cook County Board.

Illinois has joined other states in imposing sweeping smoking bans on businesses and the public. California became the first state to ban smoking in the workplace 10 years ago. The sunshine state next banned smoking in bars and restaurants. The latest ban under consideration would target hotels.

The current anti-smoking campaign has built momentum throughout the Midwest and beyond.

 Village trustees in Deerfield, a northern suburb, approved a smoking ban for public places last week. The law takes effect March 1.

 Des Plaines officials will host a town hall meeting Jan. 4, to discuss possibly banning smoking in all public and work places.

 Greenwood, Ind. officials may introduce an ordinance Jan. 1 that would ban smoking in public places. Indianapolis’ smoke-free ordinance will take effect March 1.

 On Dec. 21, Urbandale, Iowa expanded an existing smoking ban to include parks and other outdoor recreational locales designated for children age 17 and under. The Urbandale City Council voted unanimously for the ban following parents’ complaints of second-hand smoke at parks where children congregate.

 The Washington D.C. City Council voted in early December to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other indoor facilities by January 2007. Exemptions were made for cigar bars and hotels.

 The American Gaming Association is fighting smoking bans across the country that would prevent gamblers from smoking in casinos.

Anti-smoking advocates say reducing the harmful effects of second-hand smoke on non-smokers is their goal.

“We’re not trying to take away anybody’s cigarettes,” said Smith. “Our position is that you don’t smoke in public places. This is about saving lives. Second-hand smoke is a killer. That’s a fact.”