Coalition Hopes to Clear the Air : Health: Several council members lend support to Clean Indoor Air Week, an effort spearheaded by minority anti-smoking groups.


Councilwoman Ruth Galanter says she, for one, is delighted to see cigarette companies "get their comeuppance."

Even Councilman Mike Hernandez, who admits to taking a puff here and there, attests that "cigarettes are addictive."

So the two council members, along with several of their colleagues, said Friday that they are glad to lend their support to Clean Indoor Air Week, which begins Sunday.

A coalition of anti-smoking groups representing the African-American, Asian/Pacific Islander and Latino communities is asking restaurants and other businesses serving the public to ban smoking during the period.

Galanter told a City Hall news conference that she has "watched the marketing campaigns shift very dramatically and in a very cold, calculated way to exploit young people in minority communities" as non-minorities began to drift away from smoking.

"I've tried to quit hundreds of times," said Hernandez, who added that he started smoking when he was 15 because others around him did it.

Hernandez said he sometimes slacks off for a while, but the habit flares up again. He is now down from a full pack to half a pack a day.

Many Latinos have been "brainwashed" by tobacco advertising, which makes it difficult for organizations such as his to convince people to quit smoking, said Luis Mata, executive director of the Multicultural Area Health Education Center and chairman of the Latino Tobacco Control Community Coalition.

Why kick off Clean Indoor Air Week on Mother's Day?

"We felt that a lot of people would be taking their mothers out for dinner and that they would like to take her somewhere clean and smoke-free to show her they care," said Adrienne Duar, project coordinator for the National Black Leadership Initiative on Cancer--Drew African-American Tobacco Leadership Program.

Councilman Marvin Braude, who also attended Friday's news conference, said that 35 years ago, he smoked two packs a day. He stopped, he said, because "I was coughing and I didn't like it and I didn't think it was good for my health."

The councilman--who watched his measure to ban smoking in restaurants fall one vote short of the eight needed for council approval in March, 1992--said he plans to push the matter before the council again in July.

"It's not civilized to allow people to pollute the atmosphere in which we eat," Braude said.

Just two months ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers drove smokers out of the stadium's seating and restroom areas and into certain designated spots, such as the club-level cafeteria.

The move made the Dodgers the sixth major league baseball team to ban smoking in an open-air stadium.

Tommy Hawkins, vice president of communications for the Dodgers, said at Friday's news conference that the team's policy means that baseball fans "won't have to sit there and squirm while somebody is puffing away on a cigarette and completely ruining your outing."

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World