Monday, January 22, 2007

Take Action to Support Clean Indoor Air in Virginia

The American Lung Association's Virginia chapter has posted an e-action campaign to urge your representatives in Richmond to support smokefree air legislation. It only takes a minute, so please voice your support for this important legislation!

I've mentioned my support for a smoking ban in Arlington bars & restaurants. I'd rather the issue be left up to localities, but thanks to the Dillon Rule, action has to be taken on a statewide level.

This debate is falsely portrayed by tobacco lobbyists as an issue of choice. It's true that chewing tobacco is an issue of choice -- your disgusting habit doesn't affect my health. And I fully own up to my own destructive habits. I'm sure my liver is none too appreciative of my drinking. But if I got into my car in a drunken state and started mowing down pedestrians, then I think we'd all agree that my personal habits would become a public issue.

That's where a personal choice becomes a public threat -- the cigarette smoking of others directly impacts my health. As a devastating report from the Bush administration's own Surgeon General pointed out, there's no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

States like California and Massachusetts have already banned smoking to mild grumbling but no widespread chaos. As for the "a smoking ban will devastate bars & restaurants" argument, it's proven to hold no water, because even individual cities like DC and NYC have banned smoking without seeing a mass exodus. Strangely, it seems the Village and Dupont Circle are still hipper than the Applebees and Ponderosas of Paramus and Centreville. Who knew?

While we're on the subject of bans, I haven't formed an opinion on the spreading wave of trans fat bans. Using the logic above, seems to fall more under personal choice than public threat, though if we can ban red dye #2, trans fats are fair game. What do you think?

UPDATE: Here's the response I got from Sen. Whipple's office ...
Thank you for expressing to us your interest in advancing the cause of a smoke-free Virginia. You will be pleased to know that Senator Whipple has cosponsored smoke-free legislation in the past and is supportive of smoke-free workplaces in Virginia. Thanks again for your input; it is greatly appreciated.

Alex Jakubow
Legislative Intern
District 31
Senate of Virginia
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