There should be no 'buts' about banning smoking

Opinion

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When restaurants are required by law to make their establishments accessible, convenient and safe for people who have trouble walking, that's simple humanity.

But, if restaurants are required by law to make their establishments accessible, convenient and safe for people who have trouble breathing, that's a violation of the restaurant owners' rights.

When the Village of Oak Park requires restaurants to provide their patrons with safe, wholesome food and safe, drinkable water, prepared in a clean, hygienic kitchen, that's the basic protection of public health that we all expect from our village officials.

But, if the Village of Oak Park considers requiring restaurants to provide their patrons with safe, clean air to breathe, that's another nutty idea from the lunatic fringe.

When offices, hospitals, movie theaters, schools, libraries, stores?#34;even our public parks?#34;go smoke-free, that shows a commendable concern for the long-term health of the people who work there every day, as well as the customers they serve.

But, if restaurants are required to go smoke-free to protect the health of the people who work there every day, as well as the customers they serve, that's government intrusion in the workers' basic right to earn a living.

If someone offers my little girl a cigarette, I can call the police and press criminal charges.

But, if the smokers at the next table cause her to inhale two cigarette's worth of smoke during dinner, that's freedom of choice.

When my family and friends are forced to drive to La Piazza in Forest Park or Antico Posto in Oak Brook to enjoy Italian food in a smoke-free environment, local restaurant owners don't consider the money we spend there a significant loss to their bottom line.

But, when we try to make local restaurants smoke-free so we can spend our money right here in Oak Park while enjoying the fine food at Cucina Paradiso, LaBella Pasteria and Vivaldi, we're threatening the economic livelihood of our local restaurants.

Maybe all this makes sense to other people. But to me, it's clear that the people who oppose making Oak Park's indoor public places smoke-free could really use a breath of fresh air.

Beth Austin
Oak Park

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