Re "Why do 'justice groups' protect smokers?" (Another View, March 5): The author misses the point. Western Center on Law & Poverty and other social justice organizations wholeheartedly share her concerns about the dangers of smoking.
Our concern with AB 746, which seeks to ban smoking in apartments and condominiums, is that the proposal is unworkable, discriminates against renters and ignores smarter and more effective ways to reduce smoking and second-hand smoke. Whether intentional or not, the bill targets low-income renters and people of color, while permitting most property owners and wealthier homeowners to avoid enforcement. The potential fines would only serve to drive working class and low-income people deeper into debt, and do nothing to reduce smoking.
As The Bees editorial board has commented, these kinds of fines merely a nuisance to the wealthy are the difference between paying the rent and buying food for low-income families. We support efforts that improve public health and reduce harmful health outcomes. There is already a state law that allows landlords to bar smokers and establish smoke-free housing. We support the real solution, which is to help Californians stop smoking.
-- Paul Tepper. Los Angeles, executive director, Western Center on Law & Poverty
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