Proposed rules could leave smokers serving themselves

By Anna Carrera

Published 08/21 2014 06:36PM

Updated 08/25 2014 12:37PM

CHAMPAIGN -- New proposed rules could change the way smokers eat out anywhere in Illinois. Not only would they have to stay outside, but they'd have to serve themselves. Even servers wouldn't be allowed in the smoking area. If it's approved, leaders at CU Public Health say waiters could be fined if they're caught serving smokers. Those smokers would even even have to clean up after themselves.

Since the Smoke-Free Illinois Act went into effect in 2008, you had to go outside if you wanted to light up. But that didn't deter smokers from going out at places like Joe's Brewery.

"It's not as frequent as I think you might think, but we definitely do see it," said Kellen Michuda, who is a server at Joe's Brewery.

Michuda sometimes waits on people outside the restaurant. But the rules could get even more strict for her smoking guests. The state's public health department wants a separate space for smokers and they'd have to serve themselves.

"That's an interesting proposal," said Michuda. "I don't think I personally would be bothered by serving someone who is smoking but I think it's an interesting twist on things."

Some smokers say it would take away from their restaurant experience, but others disagree.

"Don't get me wrong. I smoke cigarettes, but I would never want to be sitting, having dinner next to a table that is smoking, even if it is outside," said Big Grove Tavern front house manager Molly Otto.

Restaurants like Big Grove Tavern don't have to worry about any extra accommodations, because people already aren't allowed to smoke there. But for those that do, they could see some big changes coming up soon.

Some restaurant leaders say they don't think these rules would be fair to their customers, since their job is to serve. But they would abide by the law. It still needs to be voted on by the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules in Springfield.

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