Smoking ban hits apartment buildings

Breanne Gilpatrick

Evanston apartment dwellers will no longer be able to smoke a cigarette in the lobbies or halls of their buildings after this week. The Evanston City Council voted 6-0 Monday night in favor of an amendment banning smoking in apartment common areas like hallways, lobbies and laundry rooms. Three aldermen and Mayor Lorraine H. Morton were absent from the meeting.

The ban excludes bars, restaurants and Long-term care facilities.

Catherine Counard, co-leader of the advocacy group Evanston Citizens for Clean Indoor Air, said at the meeting that as a physician she has worked with victims of secondhand smoke. She said excluding restaurants from the ban puts employees at risk. But she still called the amendment “a big step forward.”

Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th) called the amendment a “victory for the hospitality industry.”

But he explained Tuesday that the council was just doing what it felt it had to do. “The reality is if we stop people from smoking in bars and restaurants we will lose money,” he said.

“Until it becomes a statewide edict it would put our people at a competitive disadvantage,” he said.

Cigarette smoker and Kellogg student Dhiman Roy said he opposes the changes, even though he doesn’t smoke inside his apartment building on Emerson Street.

“I don’t have any problems or any issues with going outside and smoking if it’s for the general well-being of the community,” Roy said. “As long as they don’t ban smoking everywhere.”

The amendment will make apartments better for non-smokers, said Lindsay Larsen, a Weinberg sophomore with an apartment on Orrington Avenue in downtown Evanston.

“In general you don’t really want areas like that smelling like smoke,” Larsen said.

The council also passed an amendment Monday that establishes minimum standards for city regulation of construction projects. The construction of any building containing more than 24 housing units or 30,000 square feet will now be overseen by city officials.

Ald. Joseph Kent (5th) said smaller developments also should be regulated.

But it would be difficult to completely control construction, said Ald. Arthur Newman (1st).

“Everyone wants to build in Evanston,” Newman said. “There is going to be limited ability for the policymakers to stop the marketplace.”

City Reporter Breanne Gilpatrick is a Medill junior.

She can be reached at [email protected]