* I am delighted that the Thousand Oaks City Council is considering the problem of secondhand smoke.
I have asthma and severe obstructive lung disease, the latter perhaps because my parents smoked when I was a child. When William Reilly, then head of the EPA, released the report on secondhand smoke in January, he stressed that it is 10 times more dangerous than any other pollutant regulated by the EPA, including smog.
Throughout my life, it has been very difficult to find work in a smoke-free environment. In addition, public places like restaurants, bars, hotel lobbies, bowling alleys and beauty salons were not accessible to me because of the presence of secondhand smoke.
This has been a denial of my civil rights, a situation which I and others like me have endured all of our lives. Approximately 15 million to 20 million Americans have asthma. Persons with lung disease and/or hypersensitivity to secondhand smoke make up more than 20% of the U.S. population. We need the protection of smoke-free workplaces and public places in order to participate equally in the life of the community.
Esther Schiller is co-director of SAFE--Smokefree Air For Ev ery one.