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California Assembly Members Vote to
Repeal Smoking Ban in Bars
Prohibition News Update

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 2, 1998 - On behalf of its more than 300,000 members and adult smokers in California, the National Smokers Alliance continues to oppose the California smoking ban and is working with California businesses and individuals to urge repeal of the ban. This "Prohibition Update" is part of a series, designed to inform interested parties about the impact of and reaction to the law on a statewide basis. These news briefs are documented from published and private sources and more detail can be provided upon request.

SACRAMENTO, Jan. 29 -- The state Assembly voted Wednesday night to repeal the ban on smoking in bars, taverns and gaming clubs. The measure, authored by Assemblymember Edward Vincent, passed by a vote of 42-24. Assembly Bill 297 would allow people to smoke in bars, taverns and gaming clubs until at least 2001 and thereafter if establishments comply with ventilation standards developed by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The Assembly's decision came in response to numerous complaints from bar owners, their employees and patrons throughout the state declaring that the smoking ban violated the ability of bar owners and employees to earn a living as well as infringing on patrons' rights to smoke. Many bar owners are reporting significant revenue losses as a direct result of the smoking ban. Bar owners and patrons throughout the state have expressed their grievances to elected officials and have urged them to repeal the smoking ban.

Assemblyman Vincent said that his bill would protect jobs and allow people the freedom to smoke and drink without facing criminal penalties.

The Associated Press reported: "It (AB-297) would suspend the prohibition against smoking starting next January for two years -- or until federal authorities set up uniform national ventilation standards ... The bill requires Senate approval and the governor's signature to take effect."

KFBK-AM reporter Bret Burkhart expressed the reaction of bar owners and employees across the state when he reported: "Bartenders and owners say there is a small light at the end of a dark tunnel they claim cut into their profits."


Group Forms Legal Fund And Vows Non-Compliance

ROSSMOOR, Jan. 30 -- A group of 40-50 Orange County bar and tavern owners have banded together in opposition of the statewide smoking ban. The group, named Americans for Individual Rights (AIR), is urging repeal of the smoking ban and has vowed non-compliance in each of their establishments.

The coalition of bar owners formed a legal defense fund and hired an attorney to represent any member of the group should they be fined.

Lydia Engel, owner of the Barbary Coast in Anaheim and member of AIR, said: "This ban is killing our business. We made a decision as small business owners to unite and fight this law. We are prepared to take any necessary actions to protect our business, our customers and most importantly our employees."

Americans for Individual Rights can be contacted at 800-914-9008.


SAN JOSE, Jan. 29 -- Following a 10% drop in revenues, Bay 101 card casino in San Jose was forced to lay off 75 of its 600 employees.

On January 29, the San Francisco Chronicle reported: "The state's tough new anti-smoking law is being blamed for the layoff of 75 people at Bay 101 ... Since the first of the year, business at the casino has been down

10 percent, a direct result of the new law that requires Bay 101 to ban smoking in its rooms, club officials said."

The Chronicle also reported that Bay 101 specifically installed a high-powered air filtration system in hopes of meeting the yet-to-be-determined Cal-OSHA ventilation standards.

Kathy Fairbanks or Brandon Castillo, 916-341-1000;
or the National Smokers Alliance, 703-739-1324

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