Less than four months after enacting a smoking ban in restaurants and bars, the Champaign City Council has reversed it. Way to take a step backwards, lawmakers. Like that doesn't make us look like a bunch of yokels. What's really ridiculous about tonight's council vote is that, if the governor signs the bill (and he surely will), the entire state of Illinois will be smoke-free anyway beginning in January 2008. Which means this reversal will last only until the end of the year. So what's the point? Wouldn't it be better to get ahead of the curve, to prove that Champaign is a progressive community? If bar owners are really losing so much business because of the smoking ban (which is complete bullshit, because I've been in the bars, and the crowds are still there), why don't they use this time to educate their customers and staff, to attempt new marketing and promotional ideas, to use the time wisely to make their establishments place where people--smokers and non--want to be? Instead of falling back on this idiotic, kneejerk lame-duck decision.
In case you're unaware, Champaign's (chain-smoking) mayor, who has said publicly that secondhand smoke is not harmful to anyone's health, is also the liquor commissioner. Corrupt government at work.
Urbana still plans to remain smoke-free, and several Champaign bars say they will remain smoke-free, despite tonight's reversal. You'll be able to recognize them. They're the bars making all the money.