As Oak Park residents, we are expressing our strong support for passing an ordinance to prohibit smoking in public places, such as restaurants, bars and other workplaces. As a community that has demonstrated leadership on public health issues, now is the time to declare Oak Park 100 percent smoke-free.
Secondhand smoke is not an annoyance that can be controlled with ventilation, fans or large partitions. Second hand smoke is a proven threat to public health, especially to seniors, those with cardiac and respiratory issues, and it has even been shown that babies born suffer from significantly lower birth weights.
In addition to my concerns about the health and well being of our neighbors, family and friends, we have a one-year-old son who is a cardiac patient. We struggle daily in Oak Park running the gauntlet to enter public places in the face of smokers who discourteously insist on smoking in front of entryways and in building foyers. Most galling is that our son has to endure this at our new $20 million-plus public library. It's against the law to sell cigarettes to minors, but it's perfectly okay to stalk them in the doorways of all our public buildings. We no longer patronize many of our favorite restaurants like Poor Phil's, since they cannot provide a smoke free area?#34;even upon request.
While holiday shopping we asked a smoker to move aside from the entry way of the Book Table so we could enter the store without our son having to breathe the smoke. The smoker rudely replied he had no intention of doing this. We asked the manager of the store for help, he replied "there is nothing I can do." Needless to say we did our shopping elsewhere.
It is true that smokers can choose which establishments to patronize, but it is also true that non-smokers also choose which establishments to patronize. It is quite naive for business owners to assume that they can allow smoking anywhere and then expect the rest of us to just have to endure it, despite the preponderance of evidence of what a health threat this. Non-smokers also make choices regarding where to shop and eat.
Everyone deserves to breathe smoke-free air. We urge you to guarantee this right by supporting a comprehensive clean air ordinance for the Village of Oak Park.
John and Cindy Michelotti