Legislature to Governor: Don’t Smoke ’em If You Got ’em
Occupying legislative office space above the central courtyard of the governor’s office and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s smoking tent can be a drag – literally – a drag off a bunch of big cigars.
Smoke crawls up the chimney-like enclosure and enters the Capitol ventilation system, infusing the upstairs offices with a very pronounced eau du cigar.
The governor’s office has tried to mitigate the problem but on days when enough of Schwarzenegger’s cigar-happy staff congregate outside, the smoke inevitably enters the building.
Such a day was November 2 as Schwarzenegger’s staff celebrated the consummation of a long-negotiated deal aimed at improving the state’s water delivery system. Their cloud of smoke rose and stank up offices above them to the point where one legislative staffer complained, quite accurately, that their office smelled like an ashtray.
Section 7597 of California’s Government Code states that “No public employee or member of the public shall smoke any tobacco product inside a public building, or in an outdoor area within 20 feet of a main exit, entrance, or operable window of a public building, or in a passenger vehicle.”
The State Administrative Manual says this prohibition “applies to any area enclosed by the outermost walls of the building. Atriums, balconies, stairwells, and other similar building features are considered within a building.”
Smoking was banned in state prisons in 2005.
Since the passage of Proposition 99 in 1988, what is now the state Department of Public Health has spent millions of dollars on multi-media advertising campaigns to discourage people from smoking and encouraging them to quit. A key component of that campaign has been to catalogue the ills of second-hand exposure to tobacco smoke.
Secondhand smoke exposure causes cancer, heart disease, adult and childhood asthma and sudden infant death syndrome, according to the U.S. Surgeon General.
In 2006, Schwarzenegger’s Air Resources Board listed secondhand smoke as a “Toxic Air Contaminant.” Asbestos, cyanide, arsenic and car exhaust receive the same classification.
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