You've got less than a month to smoke in area bars and restaurants, then come Jan. 1 it's to the streets to freeze your ass off when the statewide smoking ban takes effect. Illinois will become the 22nd state to prohibit smoking in nearly all indoor workplaces, with notable exceptions being tobacco stores, nonalcoholic hookah lounges and hotels.
Look for an increase in business in places like Marshall McGearty Tobacco Artisans (1553 N. Milwaukee Ave., 773-772-8410), a "tobacco lounge" in Wicker Park, Up Down Cigar (1550 N. Wells St., 312-337-8025) in Old Town and Old Chicago Smoke Shop (10 S. La Salle St., 312-236-9771) in the Financial District.
But what's certain to be an interesting development is over at Sigara Hookah Cafe (2013 W. Division St., 773-292-9190) in Ukrainian Village, where there's a full bar to go along with the more than 30 shiska flavors. According to their web site and an employee at the store, they're in compliance with the new ban, but how is that possible if they'll still have the liquor? A manager wasn't available to address this issue until Tuesday, so we'll be following up.