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Smoking Ban in Restaurants

September 06, 1993

* Bruce Herschensohn is dead wrong in opposing smoking bans (Column Right, Aug. 22). He parrots the tobacco industry's criticism of the federal EPA report that declared secondhand smoke a carcinogen in nonsmokers. In fact, more than two dozen other scientific studies, including two from the surgeon general, have drawn the same conclusion as the EPA--that cigarette smoke trapped indoors causes cancer in nonsmokers.

Herschensohn ignored the irrefutable evidence that smoke-free buildings are healthy for workers and businesses alike. That's why the California Restaurant Assn. is sponsoring AB 13, my legislation to ban smoking in nearly all enclosed workplaces in the state. AB 13 also is backed by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and hundreds of businesses that fear a flood of workers' compensation claims by nonsmokers. A comprehensive workplace smoking ban will reduce the hidden costs incurred by businesses as a result of smoke, such as higher health insurance premiums, increased absenteeism and cleaning costs.

TERRY B. FRIEDMAN

Assembly, D-Encino

* The article by Herschensohn was a refreshing new look at the latest episode of fascist nonsense from our City Council. I've always suspected the EPA's claims about secondhand smoke simply because its mandate is to find things harmful, not safe.

The description of how the EPA twisted the study is typical of such fanatics; for them, truth always takes second place to their cause. If those few studies that claim to prove that secondhand smoke is dangerous were examined carefully, you'd probably find that every case of cancer occurring anywhere near a smoker was counted as being caused by the smoke. This isn't science, it's propaganda.

JOSEPH ZEFF

North Hollywood

* Finally Bruce gets to feel the twinge of being an abused minority. Let us forget that smokers like him have been fouling the air and abusing their neighbors, with complete impunity, for decades. Let us ignore the stench of cigarette butts, the litter of dead matches, the ashes everywhere. Perhaps we can overlook the tens of thousands of cases of lung cancer and emphysema treated at state expense each year when we'd rather fully fund our schools.

The smoking ban in public places is necessary because public smoking does harm to innocent people without their consent. Even if the harm is merely the atrocious stench which interferes with the meal that others are eating (also purchasing), that is reason enough. Nonsmoking sections are a cruel joke. The smoke does not respect these porous boundaries. Nonsmoking restaurants are almost nonexistent (soon to change). Nonsmokers have had no choice until now.

JIM ROSENFELD

Culver City

* I was amazed by "Judge Revives Challenge to L.A. Smoking Ban" (Aug. 27). Imagine my surprise to find a judge has ruled that people ineligible to vote because they had not bothered to register to vote were being treated in an "unfair" way. People who have refused to be a part of the democratic process were being treated in an "undemocratic" way. Judge Robert H. O'Brien has decided that statistically valid surveys are to be ignored, but then the tobacco industry has been ignoring the scientific evidence for decades.

RICK LUTES

Canoga Park

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