As a restaurateur who remembers Beverly Hills' disastrous experimentation with a smoking ban in 1987, I feel it's time for California to establish one statewide smoking policy and banish the confusion that exists now, where every city and town has its own different smoking law.
To that end, I and many of my colleagues in the restaurant industry support Assembly Bill 996, one of the toughest and fairest statewide smoking proposals ever made.
Currently, smoking policy in California is a hodgepodge of local restrictions. In some cities, smoking is completely banned in restaurants. In other cities, smoking is generally allowed unless there are signs restricting it. In still other cities, the situation is the reverse--smoking is prohibited everywhere unless one sees a sign designating an allowed smoking section.
Consequently, many people do not know or understand what the smoking policy is as they travel throughout the state. Also, restaurants and businesses in nonsmoking localities suffer business loss to other, more lenient cities nearby.
AB 996 would end both this confusion and migration. It would be one of the toughest smoking laws in the country, prohibiting smoking in almost all public places and in the workplace. Smoking would only be allowed in designated areas, and only if strict ventilation standards for indoor air quality were met.
AB 996 tries to balance the concerns and rights of all parties--business, the public, smokers and nonsmokers--and is therefore worthy of broad support. I believe that when people understand the provisions of this proposed measure, they will give it their wholehearted endorsement.
JIMMY MURPHY, (Owner, Jimmy's Restaurant), Beverly Hills