SACRAMENTO (AP) — California was a pioneer in prohibiting tobacco use in the workplace during the 1990s, but the ban left loopholes that a state lawmaker now wants to close.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier said other states have since surpassed California and enacted more expansive crackdowns on smoking in the workplace.

He won passage in 2007 of a bill to expand the workplace smoking ban, but it was vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a cigar aficionado who had an outdoor smoking tent erected just outside his office in the Capitol. He has been replaced by a non-smoker, Democrat Jerry Brown.

“We’re going to give it another try with a new governor,” said DeSaulnier, a Democrat from the eastern San Francisco Bay area city of Concord.

California’s 1994 law banned smoking in enclosed areas of most workplaces and phased in a ban at most bars, a relatively radical approach at the time. Now, DeSaulnier said, 25 states and the District of Columbia have smoke-free workplace laws that are stronger than California’s and do a better job of protecting workers from secondhand smoke.

His bill, SB575, would expand the ban to cover employee break rooms, hotel lobbies, meeting and banquet rooms, warehouses, tobacco shops, private residences that are used as family day care homes, and owner-operated businesses, even if they have fewer than five employees. That last exemption category enabled some bars to avoid the smoking ban.

“There’s no risk-free exposure to second-hand smoke,” said Paul Knepprath, a spokesman for the American Lung Association in Sacramento.

The group is co-sponsoring the legislation with the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association.

A 2008 survey for the state Department of Public Health’s California Tobacco Control Program found that nearly one in seven people said they were exposed to second-hand smoke in the workplace.

The bill is opposed by some business groups, including the California Small Business Association and the California Hotel & Lodging Association, but neither is lobbying against it. Most major hotels in California already have smoke-free lobbies and few smoking rooms because that’s what the market demands, lobbyist Randi Knott said.

The bill would not affect workplaces where all the smoking areas are outdoors, such as the Disneyland resort in Anaheim.

Tobacco retailers are putting up more of a fight. The California Association of Retail Tobacconists opposes any statewide ban affecting tobacco shops, group president Charles J. Janigian said. Most smokers are adults, tobacco use is legal, and shops and lounges are “the only safe haven they have to go and enjoy a good cigar or a bowl of pipe tobacco,” he said.

Janigian said the bill as written would even affect private cigar lounges associated with retail stores, such as the new Fat Man Cigars lounge a few blocks from the state Capitol, which has attracted some legislators as members.

DeSaulnier said he is willing to work with the retailers to amend the bill, which is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (18)
  1. drozone69 says:

    A dirty habit bieng attacked by a filthy goverment.The real purpouse is to generate revenue by a our broke state through fines and tickets.

  2. Chris says:

    C’mon, when is enough, enough? Why waste money debating this? Isn’t there more pressing issues? Smoke marijuana anywhere u want, but don’t smoke cigarettes. Way to go liberals!!!

  3. Aronold says:

    The article said that Arnold vetoed the workplace smoking ban. That is exactly the problem with our country. One man can have his way. Since he smokes he can make it a law that everyone in the state can smoke at the workplace. Why wouldn’t the people decide if smoking will be allowed at the workplace? It is up to one man? That is the whole problem. Politicians do what ever benefits themselves or their family or friends or who ever will put money in their pockets.

  4. pmoore says:

    I fully support a ban on all smoking in the workplace. Also smoking in cars. If someone is smoking in the car in front of you, you will get the smoke right into your car.

    1. matthew says:

      You do realize that the exhaust from that car in front of you is sending hundreds more times carbon monoxide into your airspace than a little cigarette?

      People are so ill informed it’s laughable. They just want to impose their lifestyle on everyone else.

  5. ralphie says:

    The number 1 health issue in this country today is not seconndhand smoke; it is obesity. If politicians were truly concerned about citizen health they would be spending their efforts is banning sugar!

  6. Pete says:

    One person eating sugar does not have any affect on others in the same area. One person smoking in the same indoor area as others does do harm to the other people in the room or building. That’s the whole point. It’s about harming others, not just doing harm to yourself. This amendment should have been passed and signed into law by a governor before now.

  7. Steve says:

    Why don’t the lawmakers put nanny state regulations on hold until after they figure out how to close the budget gap with out tax increases or extensions on the current tax increases.

  8. Josh Butts says:

    No smoking in tobacco shops? I’m a non smoker but that might be a little harsh.

  9. JJ says:

    Smoking is so caveman. I’ve opened a retail store in Los Angeles that sells vapor cigarettes. They have no secondhand smoke, are pleasant smelling, and indoor friendly. I’d love for the laist staff to visit my unique vapor bar in culver city. They are a viable alternative for people scared of thus new law. Thanks

  10. Bob says:

    I wish they’d expand the laws to make it illeagle to stamp out cigarettes on public sidewalks, etc. Whenever I go to Starbucks there is a plethora of filth stamped out all over the outdoor areas. Millions of these butts stamped out on our public sidewalks end up on the shores of our beaches. I’ve notied in Japan people stamp cigarettes out on the sidewalk, then they bend over and pick them up and dispose of the properly in the trash. I’m sure we can do equally well here in the good old US of A!

    1. matthew says:

      And if it weren’t for smokers there’d be no litter whatsoever. Why not take your crusade to fast food joints where wrappers and cups line every street in LA or potato chip companies or any business that uses paper receipts that wind up on our precious beaches.

  11. stephanie c says:

    I can appreciate most of where this is going -but tobacco shops? It doesn’t line up with the rest of the argument. Seems like something else is going on here.
    (From a non smoker)

    1. matthew says:

      I can’t appreciate any of it.

      Doesn’t solve a thing except turning one segment of society against another. Nobody is going to live any longer because of SB575. Secondhand smoke isn’t half as bad as they make it sound in the big picture of an industrialized nation.

  12. Bob says:

    Hey Matthew, I like your way of thinking. You’ve noticed the tons of filth covering the streets of LA too. Let’s get rid of all the cigarette butts and all the other unnecessary tons of trash littering our streets and public places too. We need a massive cleanup program. Today the cigarette butts tomorrow the millions of McDonand’s paper wrappers and cups littering all of our streets. By the way, the 5 cent return on aluminum cans has just about completely eliminated the millions of them that used to litter our streets and curbs. There must be other solutions for the rest of the trash, including EDUCATION regarding properly disposing of trash and pride of city.

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