Following over two hours of public testimony, the Oak Park Village Board voted 5-2 Tuesday night to send a proposed indoor smoking ban back to the Health Board for a public hearing.

Trustees’ comments at the meeting, however, did not indicate any guarantee that the board is likely to ultimately approve the ban.

Several board members joined the chorus of business owners who testified on the potential negative impact the legislation would have on restaurants.

Trustees Ray Johnson and Gus Kostopulos favored nixing the proposal that evening, rather than hold a hearing.

“I cannot support this process and ordinances as being better for Oak Park. Society is changing voluntarily,” Kostopulos said. “The business climate is difficult as it is, without us making it harder.”

Though she voted in favor of holding a hearing, Trustee Diana Carpenter also questioned economic impacts.

“Our competition is not just Forest Park, and this will not allow a level playing field,” she said. “Taking this to federal, or even to the state legislature makes more sense to me.” 

Trustee Robert Milstein said he was “conflicted” about the issue following public comment from business owners, while Trustees David Pope and Galen Gockel said the board should seek more information before making a decision.

Pope unsuccessfully requested that staff prepare an analysis of the impact a ban would have on the community. 

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