Seeing Through the Smoke
Saturday, June 19, 2004; Page A21
Radley Balko is dead wrong when he suggests that Smokefree DC is a non-local effort ["Puffing for Property Rights," Close to Home, June 14]. Smokefree DC was started by myself and another District resident, Michael Tacelosky. Local chapters of public health organizations joined us last year. Decisions on how to spend our grant money were made by local folks running local organizations.
We have gained support from dozens of D.C. organizations, including advisory neighborhood commissions, civic associations and more. To date, 2,500 people have signed an online petition in support of smoke-free workplaces; more than 2,200 of them are D.C. area residents.
Meanwhile, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, which takes national tobacco industry money and is fighting to block District residents from voting on the smoke-free workplace measure, lists just 12 percent of District restaurants as members. And the Cato Institute, for which Balko works, takes national tobacco industry money. Who's local now?
-- Angela Bradbery
Secondhand smoke kills. Nevertheless, Radley Balko asserts that proponents of a ban on smoking in the District should let bar and restaurant owners make their own decisions about whether to have smoke-free air. He argues that owners' property rights trump workers' and patrons' human rights to breathe safe air.
Perhaps they did in the 19th century, but this is the 21st.
-- James Repace
The writer is a visiting professor at Tufts University in Boston and a consultant on the effects of secondhand smoke.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company