Seminars accompany new smoking law

Breanne Gilpatrick

The Summer Northwestern

Citations and seminars are two tools being used in a newly focused effort to curb smoking in Evanston.

The Evanston Health Department has issued two citations since Evanston City Council passed an amendment to the city’s Indoor Clean Air Ordinance banning workplace smoking, said Carla Bush, chief of community health services.

The City Council passed the amendment banning smoking in workplaces, apartment common areas and within 25 feet of building entrances at its June 28 meeting. Restaurants, bars and long-term care facilities are excluded from the ban.

The health department has since mailed information on the new smoking ban to every business in the area, Bush said. She said the health department is enforcing the ordinance on a complaint basis and is not going around to businesses to find people who are smoking.

“We’re not going out looking for complaints,” Bush said. “We don’t have the staff to do that.”

The first two citations were given to two businesses in different sections of the city, and there have been no further problems since the complaints, Bush said.

In addition to passing the recent smoking ban, the health department sponsored a Nicotine Addiction Seminar on July 20 for residents interested in quitting smoking. Last week’s seminar was a one-night version of the six-session Stop Smoking Clinic at the Evanston Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., on Sept. 28, 29 and 30 and on Oct. 1, 4 and 11 that will be co-sponsored by the Evanston and Skokie health departments.

Bush said the city has been holding similar seminars and clinics since the Illinois tobacco settlement, but she said the health department wanted to make sure to have a seminar to coincide with the new ordinance.

Joel Spitzer, who runs the Evanston seminars, said although his six-session clinics typically draw 20 to 25 people each, attendance for the one-night seminars varies depending on the amount of promotion.

Spitzer began doing smoking clinics in the Chicago area in 1976 as a volunteer for the American Cancer Society and has been doing clinics through the Evanston and Skokie health departments since about 2000.

“It’s amazing how many people really want to quit smoking,” Spitzer said. “There are very few smokers who don’t want to quit smoking. They just don’t know what is involved with quitting.”

Spitzer’s clinics are free for people who live or work in Evanston or Skokie. Spitzer said the best advice he has for people thinking about quitting is to stop by a session to see if it is right for them.

“I don’t try to twist people’s arms into the program,” Spitzer said. “I want them to decide to quit on their own.”

City Reporter Breanne Gilpatrick is a Medill junior. She can be reached at [email protected]