Surprisingly, nicotine smoking is a more difficult addictive habit to break than other psychoactive substance habits. It’s tougher to quit cigarettes than it is for addicts to stop drinking, using heroin, or even ceasing cocaine use.

Is it really possible that as citizens of this town we choose to put profits over the health and well being of the people who work or eat in local restaurants? How do we know that these restaurants will lose business?

The argument that customers “freely” choose these restaurants, and that this is not anybody else’s concern is specious. Every American is paying for the results of lung cancer, heart and vascular disease, and the other effects of nicotine through the costs of disability and death, and the expenses in dollars, loss, pain and suffering.

Air borne poisons in restaurants hurt the people in the establishment whether or not they themselves smoke. Providing smoking venues also sends a message to our children that when they grow up they too can come to these places, where people can harm their own health, and that of others, by smoking, while eating and drinking.

The campaign against nicotine smoking has had a positive effect in the United States, especially among adults. However, children and adolescents continue to try smoking, quickly becoming addicted, at least in part because they see smoking as acceptable drug use in adults, just like alcohol. Pregnant teens and adult women put their fetuses at risk for a variety of serious health problems by smoking or by simply being in the presence of someone who does.

Forbidding restaurant smoking shows that we do actually care enough about people to protect the air they breathe. Such a policy is likely to draw more people to Oak Park, because of the attraction of humane values and healthy living. Our children will know that we are not hypocrites when we ask them to protect their health.

With all of the relatively affluent people moving into or visiting our town, it seems unlikely that any good restaurant will go out of business because smoking is not allowed. It works well in California, the City of New York, and in Ireland. Why not in nuclear free Oak Park?
Janet Yanos
Oak Park

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