Washington City Council passes smoke-free ordinance

Donelle Pardee Whiting

Washington’s leaders unanimously approved a smoke-free ordinance during Monday’s city council meeting.

The ordinance, city administrator Bob Morris said, mirrors the state smoking ban that went into effect Jan. 1.

Alderman Jim Gee, Ward IV, said the anti-smoking law is a much-needed measure to protect employees in the workplace.

The added ban, ammending the “offenses against public health and safety” ordinance, states the city, being a home-rule entity, can enact and enforce ordinances similar to the Smoke Free Illinois Act.

Under the ordinance, police will have the choice to issue an administrative ticket or a notice to appear.

With an administrative ticket, people have the option to contest it or pay the fine.

Should they decide to contest the violation, they would have to go before a judge, Morris said.

If found guilty, they would be responsible to pay not only the fine, but court costs as well. The city would receive 50 percent of the fine revenue.

However, if they decide to pay the fine, Morris said, the city keeps 100 percent of the fine revenue.

Morris stressed the city did not enact the smoke-free ordinance as a money-raising endeavor.

“The motivation is to enforce the state ban” he said, while saving residents the expense and time of driving to Pekin.

“We are hoping not to have to write too many tickets,” he added.

Mayor Gary Manier said city leaders introduced the ordinance because it is the council’s wish not to have to clog the courts in Pekin.

According to the ban, it is illegal to smoke in any public area, business and place of employment or within 15 feet of a door or window.

First-time offenders would be fined $100 during any 12-month period, $150 for a second offense within one year after the first offense and $250 for each additional violation within a year.

Anyone owning, operating or controlling a public place or place of employment that violates the ordinance also faces a fine of $250 for the first violation, $500 for the second violation within a year of the first offense and $2,500 for each additional violation within a year.

The city ordinance, which mirrors the Smoke Free Illinois Act, will be amended automatically to match any changes to the state ban.