Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Misinformation is Out There

Sorry, I’ve been missing in action for awhile. I’ll do a new blog post next week. This week I’m posting a letter to the editor that will hopefully be printed in the BAR soon. The letter, written by Butt Out’s Brian Davis, is a response to a recent “Guest Opinion” piece in the BAR which suggests that the new secondhand smoke law is unnecessary:

This piece, written by a member of the LGBT community, is filled with misinformation and misguided conclusions based on incomplete information, that I feel ultimately serves to encourage smokers to continue smoking rather than inspiring them to quit. Here’s Brian’s letter. See you next week!

“I am writing in response to the guest opinion article: “New smoking ban is not needed.” The article suggests that secondhand smoke is not a serious health concern, when in fact 53,000 people a year in the U.S. die because of it, and the Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

It’s true that smoking rates in general have gone down, but the LGBT community in California is still smoking at very high rates: 30.4% overall -- twice as much as everyone else. It’s ironic that the article suggests we should spend more money educating “marginalized populations at most risk of smoking” without mentioning that the LGBT community is among the most at risk, and without realizing that the new law will help inspire the 70% of LGBT smokers who want to quit to break free from their addiction.

It is not true that there was a parade of children in front of the Supervisors talking about how smoking on bar patios affects their asthma. The youngest to testify were a few high school students, and they didn’t talk about smoking in bars.

Also, it is inaccurate to suggest that taking these practical measures to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke in bar environments will be harmful to business. Many other cities have similar laws and their bars have continued to thrive, often drawing additional customers who enjoy breathing air free of smoke drawn in from open doorways to the street or outdoor patios, and who enjoy being outdoors at a bar without having to inhale toxic fumes.

And yes, the air in outdoor smoking patios is toxic. A recent Stanford study demonstrated that exposure to tobacco smoke outside can be just as hazardous as indoor levels, increasing non-smoker’s risk of heart disease, asthma, and many other diseases caused by smoking.

Finally, the name of the group that advocated for the new law is the San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition, not the “Anti-Smoking Coalition” as the article claims. We are working for the health of this city by helping protect people of all ages from exposure to secondhand smoke and helping the vast majority of smokers who want to quit get the help they need to break free from tobacco.

Brian Davis
Project Coordinator

BUTT OUT! Ending Tobacco Industry Exploitation of the LGBT Community
On behalf of the San Francisco Tobacco Free Coalition”

Stay in Touch

Keep track of the work Butt Out is doing by going to our website (, friending us on Facebook (butt-outsanfrancisco) or by connecting with us on Twitter ( Out is a project of Breathe California, funded by the San Francisco Tobacco Free Project, which works to get tobacco money out of LGBT community organizations in San Francisco. We also educate the public about the hazards of smoking and about smoking cessation.

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