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Well, not any more. Effective today, by city of Chicago ordinance, smoking is now prohibited at virtually every public place in Chicago, and my understanding is that this includes the three major outdoor stadiums in Chicago, Wrigley Field, U. S. Cellular Field, and Soldier Field.

Good. I've been having discussions with the Cubs on this issue for nearly a decade -- they have, since the mid-1990's, prohibited smoking "in the seating areas", but allowed it on the ramps, concourses, and behind the back row of seats at Wrigley Field.

The problem with this in the bleachers up to now, of course, is that the last row of seats is in some places, only six feet or so from the back fence, where smoking was permitted. On days when the wind is blowing in (about two-thirds of the time, as you know), smoke would simply blow from the back row right into our faces.

Anyway, it's banned now, just as it has been by ordinance in New York City at Shea Stadium and Yankee Stadium for years (in fact, at Yankee Stadium, large signs say "Smokers Will Be Ejected").

Thanks to the Chicago City Council for finally recognizing our right to clean air. You can read the entire text of the ordinance here.

If you are a smoker, please understand that I'm very hardass about this issue, having lost my mother, who smoked, to breast cancer at a very young age (38). Go ahead and smoke if you wish -- but just don't do it around those of us who don't, because the health dangers of secondhand smoke are well known and documented. Perhaps the passage of this ordinance will encourage some city residents to quit.

OK, I'm off the soapbox now.

One final footnote from the Cubs convention (incidentally, by the smoking ordinance, "convention facilities" are included in the ban, which means smoking will be prohibited at next year's Cubs convention) -- the WGN Radio booth passed out flyers containing the radio broadcast schedule for spring training, which is as follows:

Thursday, March 2, vs. Athletics at Mesa
Saturday, March 4, vs. Giants at Scottsdale
Sunday, March 5, vs. Giants at Mesa
Saturday, March 11, vs. Royals at Mesa
Sunday, March 12, vs. Brewers at Maryvale
Saturday, March 18, vs. White Sox at Tucson
Sunday, March 19, vs. Rangers at Mesa
Saturday, March 25, vs. Athletics at Mesa
Sunday, March 26, vs. Diamondbacks at Mesa
Monday, March 27, vs. White Sox at Mesa
Saturday, April 1, vs. Padres at Las Vegas

All dates have a 1:30 (CT) pregame show, and 2:05 (CT) first pitch.