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After measuring air quality inside Chicago restaurants, the Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco contends restaurants with smoking sections were six times more polluted than those that are smoke-free and is calling for the city to declare smoking sections illegal and ban indoor smoking all together, according to a report by ABC7 news.
"There is no safe or acceptable level of secondhand smoke as the air quality tests from Chicago show. A non-smoking section doesn't protect anyone," said Dr. Susan Buchanan, UIC hospital.
New York and Los Angeles have banned restaurant smoking, making Chicago the largest city in the country that still permits smoking sections. Restaurant owners in Chicago have opposed the total ban, saying it would hurt business.
One smoker told the news program the availability of the smoking section does make a difference. "If it's a place I'm going to have dinner and have a drink, yeah, it would bother me if I couldn't have a smoking section," said Jamie Lyons, Schererville, Ind.
Other smokers disagree. "I could not smoke for an hour, enjoy myself with a dinner with my girlfriend or my mother," said Lawrence Robinson, Chicago.
Tobacco opponents say it's also an issue of workplace safety for waiters and bartenders who don't have a choice. "The fact is, nobody should have to sacrifice their health for a paycheck," said Janet Williams, Illinois Coalition Against Tobacco.
There is an indoor clean-air regulation pending in the Chicago City Council. It could come up for a vote later this year.