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DeSaulnier: Workplace smoking legislation advances in Senate Committee

Publication Date: 4/14/2011
  • Author:SFgate blog
  • Publication:San Francisco Chronicle

The following press release is from the Office of Senator Mark DeSaulnier:

Senate Bill 575 (DeSaulnier) Closes Loopholes in California Law that Expose Workers to Second Hand Smoke

Today the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee passed SB 575 (DeSaulnier) to strengthen California's once-ground breaking smokefree workplace law. SB 575 will protect California workers and patrons by eliminating loopholes in the state's smokefree workplace law.

While once the leader in protecting workers from the toxic effects of second hand smoke, California has fallen far behind. This is due to the exemptions and loopholes in California's smokefree workplace law. Because of these loopholes thousands of California workers and patrons of certain businesses continue to be exposed to secondhand smoke.

"Passing this committee was an important first step, but we have a lot of work ahead of us as opponents raise a variety of issues that we need to address," said DeSaulnier (D-Concord). "California workers should not be exposed to second hand smoke and the health risks associated with it. They go to work to earn an honest day's pay for an honest day's work, not to breathe in carcinogens. This bill helps assure a healthy workplace for all Californians."

Exemptions in the smokefree workplace law allow smoking in certain areas of a hotel/motel lobby and meeting and banquet rooms, retail or wholesale tobacco shops, warehouses, breakrooms, businesses with five or fewer employees and other specified locations. SB 575 would remove those exemptions thereby prohibiting smoking in those workplaces.

"It is time to bring California's once-groundbreaking smokefree workplace law into the 21st Century," said DeSaulnier. "Twenty-five states have surpassed California's law and we should be ashamed."

This bill is co-sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association.