Better solution needed for public smoking | February 24, 2012 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

Mountain View Voice

Opinion - February 24, 2012

Better solution needed for public smoking

Last week the City Council missed an opportunity to find a way to allow smoking in certain well-protected areas of local bars and still insulate employees from second-hand smoke.

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Posted by Max Hauser
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Feb 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Max Hauser is a registered user.

Though this editorial may prompt more rhetorical comments from the usual fixed assumptions, having attended THIS week's City Council meeting (Feb. 21) -- the week after the vote reported above -- I was struck by new testimony to the Council by Nick Chaput of the Central Business Association (he owns the locally popular Dana St Roasting Co.) This has not yet, to my knowledge, been reported in the Voice.

Chaput commented first that the Feb. 14 Council discussion and vote occurred the night of Valentine's Day, traditionally busiest night of the year in the restaurant trade. While local restaurant owners were preoccupied by their businesses, Chaput said, the Council heard from professional advocates who came from outside Mountain View to testify in support of the ban.

Chaput also remarked that most suppositions on health statistics from _outdoor_ second-hand smoke derive from a single study whose actual data were for indoor smoking, and applied theoretical models to obtain outdoor projections. Those quantitative projections are, he said, largely discredited in a more recent rigorous study actually measuring outdoor smoke for the first time. The more recent study, to its authors' surprise, found that the old models for outdoor second-hand exposure badly overstated its dangers.

On Feb. 21, Chaput pledged to forward these study references to Council members by email. I'm trying to reach him now to get a copy.

Like several other people commenting on this issue before, I'm a non-smoker who dislikes the habit, but am concerned about the spread of rules of the everything-not-compulsory-is-prohibited type. Especially if rationalized with fashionable but inaccurate data.