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The landmark Smokefree Illinois legislation prohibits smoking in most indoor public places and workplaces including bars and restaurants. Today, more than half of the country’s population, and thirty states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands all have strong smokefree laws.  Additionally, many cities and counties throughout the country have passed their own smokefree laws. Smokefree laws are popular because they improve public health and reduce the healthcare costs to treat people with smoking-related diseases. 

These are just some of the benefits of Smokefree Illinois:  

  • According to data collected by the Illinois Department of Public Health, since Smoke Free Illinois went into effect, tobacco-related hospitalizations and healthcare costs have decreased substantially.  In fact, hospitalizations for tobacco-related diseases are well below those in the two years prior to the Smokefree Illinois Act. 
  • Hospitalizations for heart disease have shown the greatest decline.  It is estimated that more than 30,200 heart disease hospitalizations in Illinois have been prevented since passage of the Smokefree Illinois Act.  Based on an average cost for a heart disease admission of nearly $39,000 there has been an estimated savings of $1.18 billion in hospital costs alone.  
  • In 2008, 21.2% of Illinois adults smoked; in 2012 that number dropped to 16.9%.  

As we celebrate the 5th anniversary of Smokefree Illinois, we need to make sure that the law is as strong today as it was five years ago and that tobacco use continues to decline, especially among children, teens and young adults.  Critical to doing this is to ensure that the state funds tobacco prevention and control programs based on the best practice guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s evidence-based programs.  Only then will we be able to enjoy a tobacco-free Illinois.

For information on quitting smoking, you can call the Illinois Tobacco Quitline at 1-866-QUIT YES (1-866-784-8937.) The Quitline has trained counselors who provide professional advice on how to quit, and can provide free nicotine replacement products (patches, gum and lozenges.) 

Locally, the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) provides classes or individual counseling to clients trying to quit.  Those services also can assist with access to patches, gums and lozenges through the IL Quitline.  Currently, WCHD has a class that will meet for the second time at 4 PM Thursday, January 10th, at Crusader Community Health’s West State Street site.  New participants can begin attending that class and participate in six of the seven total sessions, each about 80-90 minutes in length.

Two other classes to be offered by WCHD are:

  • Thursdays, from 6 – 7:30 PM beginning January 10th; and,
  • Wednesday evenings, from 5:30 – 7 PM, beginning February 3rd, at Crusader Community Health’s 7thStreet and Broadway location.

For additional information on quitting smoking, including having other classes or counseling provided, or to get your questions answered about smoking, tobacco and secondhand smoke, contact the Winnebago County Health Department’s Tobacco Programs Office at 1-815-720-4269, or Larry Didier at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or visit the Winnebago County Health Department website at www.wchd.org.

Here’s to a happy, healthy and even more smokefree Illinois!   

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