Have a cigar

  • Written by Kelly White

Worth mulls amending smoking laws to accommodate cigar and hookah bars

“No smoking” may become a term of the past for Worth.
The village is debating amending its no-smoking ordinance to permit cigar and hookah bars to open up shop.
The board has been in deliberation for more than a month adjusting the smoking ordinance for more than a month, in hopes of coming to a decision at the next village board meeting Tuesday.
According to Illinois state law, the state allows smoking to take place indoors if 80 percent of a company’s revenue comes from tobacco or tobacco related products. Worth would have to appeal the local ordinance to adhere to the state’s smoking law. If the village decides to move forth with the process, businesses looking to open up cigar or hookah bars will then need to obtain a special-use permit. There would be a public hearing prior to obtaining the special-use permit where residents would be allowed to attend and voice opinions, as well.
“As a village, we have to put out special criteria that would be stated in the special-use permit,” Mayor Mary Werner said at the Oct. 7 board meeting. “Any businesses permitting smoking indoors would not endanger public health, safety or morals.”
Some board officials said issues of building structure, parking, hours of operation, noise and crowd control would also be addressed in the special-use permit that tobacco shops must follow in order to keep their place of business up and running.
One trustee disagreed with debating changing the smoking ordinance.
“If we change the ordinance, there may be a number of businesses looking to open up in Worth,’’ Trustee Mary Rhein said. “We don’t want these places of business opening up all over the community, and how to we say yes to one business and not to another?”
Werner informed the trustees and residents the number of special-use permits issued to such businesses will be closely monitored and limited.
“Just as we limit the number of liquor licenses here in town, we will also limit the number of special-use permits issued for indoor smoking,” she said, “If we approved every liquor store license, we would have so many liquor stores competing with each other and not bringing any positive revenue to the town. We would limit the number of special-use permits in the same manner. I think it would be very difficult for 10 cigar bars to survive in such a small community, just as it would be for 10 liquor stores.”
Besides having to obtain a special-use permit, Trustee Rich Dziedzic suggested the idea of having business owners go through an approval process, as well, from the economic development board, along with the public hearing process of the special-use permit to take place in an open forum for residents. The economic development board will be able to take into further consideration whether or not the business will be negatively impacting the health of the general public and of the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Right now, it’s no smoking and I feel we should keep it that way because it is overall a great thing for the public health,” Rhein said.
In other Worth news, the Worth Police Department swore in two police officers at the meeting, Justin Meister and Matthew Susnis, both from Worth. The board is still in discussion over who will fill the vacant police chief position since the retirement of Police Chief Martin Knolmayer on Oct. 3.