Public Health

'How Would You Like It If You Went to a Wine Tasting and You Couldn't Taste the Wine?'

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The Chicagoland International Pipe & Tobacciana Show, held over the weekend in St. Charles, Illinois, was smoke-free this year, thanks to a state smoking ban that took effect in January. Organizers of the event, the country's largest pipe show, had hoped attendees would be allowed to light up as members of a private club:

The hall is strictly staffed with volunteers, convention-goers were to pay $15 to join the club, and attendees were to sign a waiver stating they "freely and willingly accept all the risks of smoking, second-hand smoke, third-hand smoke, and all other risks, both real and imagined, regarding smoking tobacco."

But St. Charles police, DuPage County health officials and anti-smoking advocates didn't buy it.

"This is the first time we've seen such a blatant attempt . . . to actually undermine the law through legal sophistry," said Mike Grady, the American Cancer Society's Illinois director of public policy. "We're very happy with the outcome. This is the perfect example that the law is being enforced."

Pipe smokers, banished to tents outside the convention center, were understandably irked. "How would you like it if you went to a wine tasting and you couldn't taste the wine?" said one. "It's a freedom issue."

[Thanks to Rick Newcombe for the tip.]