Wafting toward compromise

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Though trustees voted down a bid to outlaw smoking at all indoor workplaces Monday, several board members proposed alternatives to an outright ban at a study session Wednesday.

"We need to not look at this issue as we look at too many things in Oak Park, as one polar extreme or the other," said Trustee David Pope.

Compromises suggested included phasing in a ban over several months, to give restaurants and merchants time to prepare, as well as grandfathering in existing businesses.

Pope said he supported some form of grandfathering, while Trustee Robert Milstein said he favored a phased-in ban that would be instituted in conjunction an equity assurance program.

"We have a history of taking very progressive stances. We can work with businesses to help them," Milstein said. "To me, this is a health issue. But there are valid points on both sides. We need to have a strong balancing act."

Trustee Galen Gockel said he was looking to "ban not damage" and suggested a "smoking board of appeals," a system requiring businesses make a case for the need to allow smoking.

"We do have to look for a compromise. This can't be a win-lose situation; it's not good for the community," Gockel said.

Trustees Diana Carpenter and Ray Johnson did not voice support for any particular form of compromise. Village President Joanne Trapani and Trustee Gus Kostopulos were absent from the meeting last week.

All present board members did, however, support increasing efforts to educate the public on the health risks associated with smoking, as well as requiring businesses to post highly visible signage stating whether they allow smoking.

Board of Health Chair Lois Halstead said the village would require roughly $300,000 to wage a major campaign against tobacco use in Oak Park.
?#34;Katharine Grayson

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