Buffalo Grove will stick with the current smoking policy for Buffalo Grove Days, at least this year.
Weeks after Trustee Michael Terson made an impassioned case for a complete smoking ban at the fest, held over the long Labor Day weekend, the board decided not to change the current rules.
Smoking is not allowed on either St. Mary Parish or Buffalo Grove Park District property, but it is permitted on the fairgrounds, except under the food tent.
Village Manager Dane Bragg said Buffalo Grove looked into establishing more restrictive designated smoking areas.
"Unfortunately, we're very tight on space there," Bragg said. "So we don't have a lot of places to put designated areas other than where we are now, unless we move them very far off the event area."
A total smoking ban presented a different concern, he added, saying they fear fest-goers would go around the fence to the right of way at Lake-Cook Road to smoke.
"That becomes a bit of a safety concern for us, with cars and people and strollers," and worrying that people would pass alcohol over the fence.
The status quo will continue, while the village monitors complaints and looks for other options.
Outside of Terson, none of the trustees were willing to discuss the matter. Village President Jeffrey Braiman said it has been discussed by the board recently and the trustees have made their opinions known.
A memo from Finance Director Scott Anderson said he learned from the Buffalo Grove Days Committee and the police department there have not been a significant number of complaints regarding secondhand smoke.
Terson pointed to the festival's ban on people bring pets to the fest ground.
"A lack of complaints or requests ... has never been a reason to not enact legislation, especially when it pertains to public health and safety," Terson said, calling the reasoning "a weak and hypocritical argument."
Terson had an ally in Buffalo Grove Park District Commissioner Scott Jacobson, who urged trustees to enact a smoking ban at the festival.
Jacobson said when the park district's smoking ban was enacted, the park board faced the same issues. But in the seven years since the ban was enacted, the park district has had zero police reports dealing with smoking.
"We have been very successful at signage," Jacobson said. "A sign ... empowers the everyday person, if they're being bothered by somebody who lights up, not knowing that there is a ban. They can at least go up to that person and say, 'Smoking's not allowed here.' Typically, that person obeys the law."
He said secondhand smoke is as harmful outdoors as it is indoors. His wife is extremely allergic to smoke and is susceptible to asthma attacks if smoke is nearby.
"Prior to a lot of the laws that currently exist, we were very limited in where we could participate in activities," he said.
He said his mother-in-law died from lung cancer at age 61, his step mother-in-law died of lung cancer at 69 and his father-in-law walks around with an oxygen tank because of emphysema.