The ones passed by the Mountain View City Council will last month protect restaurant workers and patrons who do not want to be inhaling second-hand smoke that drifts into their breathing air. I want to address some of the options outlined in the Feb. 24 editorial, "Better solution needed for public smoking."
• Control second hand smoke on patios with barriers (or even a hermetically sealed room) and powerful smoke-eating devices that can clear the air rapidly.
--Still not safe. "The most advanced ventilation techniques can reduce environmental tobacco smoke by up to 90 percent, but even with this drastic reduction, the remaining 10 percent is still 2,000 times greater than what would be considered acceptable," says Roberta Ferrence, director of the Ontario Tobacco Research Unit.
--Creates an un-level playing field for vendors. Only those with the means to purchase such a system could offer a smoking section.
• Make smoking patios self-serve and off-limits to employees.
• Use only disposable cups and utensils on patios, which will help defray the need for employees to visit the areas. Develop an incentive for patrons to clear their own tables. Make sure that all entrances are kept clear of smoke so anyone walking outside will be spared from second-hand smoke.
--It would be very hard to maintain an establishment where customers eat and drink without ever having staff tend to the area. Also, second hand smoke by nature drifts, it would be hard to prevent it from leaving from smoking areas or entering common entrances.
Emily S. Lam
Senior Director, Health Care and Federal Issues
Silicon Valley Leadership Group