The Downtown Oak Park Board of Directors by a majority vote opposes the proposed smoke-free ordinance, which would prohibit smoking in Oak Park restaurants and other hospitality related businesses. (Please be advised that our board's village representative abstained from this vote.)
We are not debating smoking as a health issue. Our position is based on how government over-regulation will take away the choice of privately owned businesses and thereby potentially have a negative impact on those businesses. This issue is about the choice of businesses, the choice of their customers and the choice of their employees. Oak Park customers and employees have plenty of options. Approximately 70 percent of the restaurants within Oak Park are currently smoke-free by choice.
Oak Park is not an island. We are situated in the middle of one of the largest metropolitan areas in this country. Our businesses have far reaching competition from surrounding neighborhoods in the City of Chicago and its suburbs. Our businesses must consider their competition's practices as they make their own business decisions.
Our community is known for its exceptional restaurants, which played a leading role in the revitalization of all our business districts. Their success is determined by the owners' understanding of their own business. With that, we feel that the restaurant owners should be the ones to make decisions on this matter. Taking that choice away from individual businesses can potentially drive both business and businesses out of our community, without actually resolving the health issue related to smoking.
We request and recommend that you do not take any action that would support the proposed smoking ban. Thank you for your consideration.
The Downtown Oak Park Board of Directors