Imagine a committee meeting where California legislators gather to consider Assembly Bill 746, Assemblyman Marc Levine's proposal to protect people in multi-unit housing from secondhand smoke ("Bill targets smoking at home," Page A1, Feb. 28). Picture the table, the chairs, the people milling about shaking hands and making introductions.
Imagine that there's room for about 34 members of the public to sit and quietly watch the proceedings. Imagine that after 15 minutes of discussion, they pull out packs of cigarettes, light up, and continue quietly listening while smoking. There would be bedlam. Security would be called. People would be arrested.
Legislators would rush from the room waving their hands wildly in a futile effort to disperse the smoke. Even those who smoke themselves would recognize this as a terrible, life-threatening imposition on people's right to breathe clean air. They'd find another meeting room, rope off the area, and scratch their heads at the unfathomable behavior they'd just encountered.
Now consider how hypocritical this behavior would seem if, after the smokers are cleared from the room, they sat back down and, with the full blessing of the Western Center on Law and Poverty, voted to allow smokers in multi-unit housing to continue to smoke indoors, forcing the whole building to smoke involuntarily pregnant women, children, everyone.
The tobacco industry isn't the only rock in the path toward clean, smoke-free air for the poorest tenants in California the majority of whom don't smoke and don't want their families exposed. Another rock comes from "social justice" representatives who worry about the imposition it might create for a smoker to use nicotine gum or step outside to avoid exposing the millions of low-income, non-smoking renters who can't afford to move.
Carol Denney is a community activist, writer and musician in Berkeley.
© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.
Read more articles by Carol Denney
What You Should Know About Comments on Sacbee.com
Sacbee.com is happy to provide a forum for reader interaction, discussion, feedback and reaction to our stories. However, we reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments or ban users who can't play nice. (See our full terms of service here.)
Here are some rules of the road:
Keep your comments civil. Don't insult one another or the subjects of our articles. If you think a comment violates our guidelines click the "Report Abuse" link to notify the moderators. Responding to the comment will only encourage bad behavior.
Don't use profanities, vulgarities or hate speech. This is a general interest news site. Sometimes, there are children present. Don't say anything in a way you wouldn't want your own child to hear.
Do not attack other users; focus your comments on issues, not individuals.
Stay on topic. Only post comments relevant to the article at hand.
Do not copy and paste outside material into the comment box.
Don't repeat the same comment over and over. We heard you the first time.
Do not use the commenting system for advertising. That's spam and it isn't allowed.
Don't use all capital letters. That's akin to yelling and not appreciated by the audience.
Don't flag other users' comments just because you don't agree with their point of view. Please only flag comments that violate these guidelines.
You should also know that The Sacramento Bee does not screen comments before they are posted. You are more likely to see inappropriate comments before our staff does, so we ask that you click the "Report Abuse" link to submit those comments for moderator review. You also may notify us via email at email@example.com. Note the headline on which the comment is made and tell us the profile name of the user who made the comment. Remember, comment moderation is subjective. You may find some material objectionable that we won't and vice versa.
If you submit a comment, the user name of your account will appear along with it. Users cannot remove their own comments once they have submitted them.