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Decision '94 / SPECIAL GUIDE TO CALIFORNIA'S ELECTIONS : Propositions : 188: Regulates Smoking Statewide : WHAT IT IS

October 30, 1994

This initiative statute, devised by cigarette manufacturers and funded almost entirely by tobacco firms, would reverse a decade-long trend in California by mandating the repeal of all local smoking bans and instituting a single, far looser, statewide smoking policy.

* Relaxed Standard: Proposition 188's standard would permit California business owners to allow smoking in sections of virtually all indoor workplaces, including restaurants, offices and factories. The Legislature could alter the statute by a two-thirds vote.

* Ventilation: The measure would allow restaurants to set aside 25% of their floor space for smoking sections. Owners of restaurants and other businesses that opt to permit smoking would be required to meet air ventilation standards created by a trade group known as the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers. The tobacco industry had representatives on the American Society of Heating committee that drafted those standards in 1989. At least one tobacco company, Philip Morris, the main backer of Proposition 188, has contributed money to the organization.

* Repeals Local Bans: The initiative would repeal local smoking bans in Los Angeles and scores of other cities and counties in the state, and would prevent local governments from regulating tobacco use in the future. A recent Los Angeles County counsel opinion said passage of the initiative would prohibit counties from banning smoking even in museums, libraries, hospitals and other local government buildings.

* The Main Target: The main target of the initiative is a new statewide indoor smoking ban passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Pete Wilson earlier this year. Authored by Assemblyman Terry B. Friedman (D-Brentwood), the smoking ban would take effect in January, unless the initiative passes. The Friedman bill would prohibit smoking in almost all indoor workplaces, including restaurants, shopping malls, offices and factories statewide. Friedman's bill would prohibit smoking in bars by 1999, unless the state can develop standards ensuring that nonsmokers would not be harmed by secondhand smoke. The Friedman bill would permit local governments to pass even stronger smoking restrictions.

* Minors' Access: Proposition 188 claims it would limit cigarette sales to minors by restricting their access to vending machines. Currently, 156 cities ban or significantly restrict cigarette vending machines locally. The initiative would repeal those ordinances, and cities no longer would be allowed to regulate vending machine cigarette sales if Proposition 188 passes. It could also repeal a new law specifically aimed at blocking minors' access to cigarettes.

* Advertising: The initiative says cigarette billboards cannot be placed within 500 feet of schools, although billboards are designed to be read from such distances. Proposition 188's restrictions would not apply to street-level cigarette ads that commonly are placed in store windows.

ARGUMENTS FOR

Business owners should have the right to determine their own policies on smoking. Restaurant owners should be permitted to set up smoking sections to accommodate smokers and nonsmokers.

Ventilation standards contained in the initiative will reduce discomfort to nonsmokers from secondhand smoke and allow smokers to light up in public places.

Differing smoking standards in various locales confuse the public and are unfair to businesses. By stripping cities and counties of their right to regulate smoking, and imposing one standard across the state, California no longer would have a patchwork of local smoking ordinances.

Standards in the initiative, though far weaker than what is contained in the law due to take effect in January, would be stronger than those in cities and counties that have not imposed local smoking prohibitions.

The measure would limit minors' access to tobacco, and limits on the placement of billboards would reduce the number of cigarette ads that reach children.

ARGUMENTS AGAINST

The tobacco industry wrote, funded and organized the campaign for Proposition 188. If the measure passes, tough anti-smoking laws adopted in various cities will be wiped off the books. Cigarette consumption will increase in California if smokers are permitted to smoke in what now are smoke-free places.

Several studies have shown that thousands of people die annually from cancer and heart disease because of secondhand smoke. Nonsmokers will suffer ill effects from other people's smoke if businesses once again are allowed to permit smoking.

Although the initiative's backers claim that California needs one standard for smoking, the state will have one standard in January when the Friedman bill, the nation's toughest anti-smoking law, takes effect.

The billboard restriction is meaningless because children would still be able to read the ads from 500 feet away. They would not, however, be able to read the surgeon general's warnings that smoking causes cancer, heart disease and is addictive.

WHO SUPPORTS IT

Philip Morris USA, the nation's largest cigarette maker and manufacturer of such brands as Marlboro, donated two-thirds of the $7.8 million raised by the Yes-on-188 campaign, as of the most recent campaign finance report. Other tobacco firms gave almost all of the remainder. Some bar and restaurants owners also are backing the measure.

WHO OPPOSES IT

The California chapters of the American Cancer Society, American Lung Assn., American Heart Assn., California Medical Assn., California Restaurant Assn., California Labor Federation and former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. Gov. Pete Wilson and his challenger, Treasurer Kathleen Brown.

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