After reading so many letters and articles regarding the smoking ban in Oak Park, I cannot hide my thoughts any more. I must write a few words. We live in a society where as adults we are supposed to make healthy and safe choices. If we decide to make unhealthy choices then there are consequences. For years we have known that, as health care providers, second hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in the U.S.

I completely disagree with banning smoking at restaurants. Banning smoking at restaurants in Oak Park is simply taking the easy way out. We should help those who want to quit, stop smoking. We should encourage them on an ongoing basis to stop, but not chase them away.

Of course it is our right to breathe clean air, but it is also a duty for all of us who are in the health care field to educate those who probably do not know or are not sure on how smoking can affect their health. As a nurse practitioner, I feel that banning smoking at the restaurant is like punishing the people who smoke and go to restaurants. Smoking is an addiction. As a community, we need to use our energy in helping these individuals. I challenge all and each of you who want to ban smoking at the restaurant to focus on how we can all use our energy and plan, not just to talk, as all of you know, talk is cheap, a way to reduce smoking in Oak Park. If we as role models tell our children not to take the short cut and to do all the steps to solve the problem, then why can’t we?

Personally, the major problem that we have is the children smoking. Let’s all come together as a community and educate all the students in Oak Park on a continuous basis regarding the dangerous risks of smoking. From middle school to high school students who are already smoking, let’s talk to them not once, not twice, but help them stop or never start smoking.

We have a lot of concerned citizens here. I believe if we put our energy to educate and reduce smoking in Oak Park people will cooperate. Some of the viewpoints letters that I have read have been pretty harsh on these smokers. If we plan this well as a team, the outcome down the line may be no one will request smoking table at the restaurants. Who knows, we could be setting examples for our neighborhood suburbs a few years from now.

Lets all work together to save all the children smokers and non-smokers from second hand smoking, remember they spend a lot of time together, not just at the restaurants.

Michelle Darang-Coleman, Non-smoker
Oak Park

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