The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association is questioning the California State Senate’s consideration of proposed legislation that would ban smoking in all retail tobacco shops and other locations that have been exempted for more than a decade from the state’s current smoking bans.
Senate Bill 575 aims to ban smoking in all retail and wholesale tobacco shops, private clubs, hotel lobbies, bars, taverns, businesses with five or fewer employees, banquet rooms, warehouse facilities, employee break rooms and other specified locations that have been exempted from the state’s Smoke-Free Workplace laws which passed more than a decade ago.
"There are many things wrong with this legislation," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR, "not the least of which is that it is contrary to the principles on which our country was founded."
McCalla said that tobacco is a legal product and that its use should not be legislatively prohibited, especially to the extent that small businesses, jobs and tax revenues are threatened.
"We support the right of business owners to choose whether or not to permit smoking on their premises. But when the government starts legislating behavior and infringing on their rights, it’s just plain wrong," he said.
McCalla said that Senate Bill 575 would cost the state money, jobs and small businesses.
"The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis has published a study based on data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Statistics that proves such bans negatively impact jobs, revenues and businesses. Many states have realized this to be true and are re-evaluating their position on such bans. In many cases, they are permitting smoking in locations such as those currently exempted from California’s indoor smoking ban," said McCalla.
"Not only that," he added, "but Californians and visitors to the state who enjoy an occasional good cigar with a glass of wonderful California wine will have virtually nowhere to do so if this legislation is allowed to pass. All Californians – smokers and nonsmokers, alike – should be against this bill and stop it from being considered further."
McCalla also said that conflicting evidence regarding the health-related effects of secondhand smoke should not be dismissed out of hand.
According to the website of the bill’s sponsor, "There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke." McCalla pointed out that the federal government disagrees with this statement and says safe levels of secondhand smoke do exist and they are well within the air quality levels found in most bars and restaurants that permit smoking.
"That safe level of exposure has been established by none other than the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Don’t you think if secondhand smoke in the workplace was an issue that OSHA would move in to protect the employees?" he asked.