As an Oak Park smoking ban inched ahead Monday night at village hall, a county-wide proposal zoomed into possibility earlier that day, threatening the importance and viability of any local law.

Oak Park trustees gave a preliminary thumbs-up to a ban and marketing/education proposal reached unanimously by a ad-hoc committee composed of restaurateurs, ban proponents and the chair of the village’s Board of Health.

Meanwhile, a Cook County committee voted 11-0 to forward a ban proposal stiffer than that passed in Chicago to the full 17-member board, which was to vote on the matter today, according to news reports. The county ban would apply to all communities that haven’t already passed their own ordinances, county attorneys reportedly said, and has the support of county president John Stroger.

Oak Park’s ban would be based on one Highland Park enacted last spring, and would take effect July 1, except for restaurants “that currently provide an entire separate floor on a different level for smoking patrons.” That would probably mean only Papaspiros, 733 Lake St., would be spared from the ban until March 1, 2007, although trustees acknowledged other restaurants, such as Leona’s, 848 Madison St., also have second-floor spaces.

Papaspiros owner Spiro Papageorge served on the committee, as did Poor Phil’s owner Dennis Murphy and Buzz Cafe owner Laura Maychruk, Smoke-Free Oak Park members Drs. David Ansell and Dean Schraufnagel, and Board of Health chair Janet Holden.

Passage of the indoor air ordinance would not address any outdoor smoking, such as near the entrances of buildings or in outdoor cafe areas.

The law would include financial support for marketing and education programs to help draw local and area customers into Oak Park eateries.

Trustee Ray Johnson was concerned at the cost of the programs, which he eyed at up to $70,000.

Trustee Robert Milstein disagreed.

“It strikes me that this is a minimal cost for a good program,” Milstein said. Dollars should not obstruct creation of good programs. “The program itself is what we should focus on.”

Village attorneys will draft the legislation and forward it to committee members for feedback before it is expected to come up for a board vote April 3.

?#34;Drew Carter

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