DeSaulnier Panders While Targeting Small Business

california, sb 575, smoking ban, anti tobacco, state senator mark desaulnierDiablo Valley’s own State Senator Mark DeSaulnier, has a bill in the state Senate that would, among other things, ban smoking in of all places…cigar shops! Yes, you read that correctly. In a measure, SB 575, purported to be an expansion of protections for employees from second hand smoke, it in fact includes businesses that sell tobacco products.

Now I’m no expert, but I would reckon that most people who work in tobacco or cigar shops probably don’t have a problem with smoke. And quite frankly, the shops I’ve been in are usually only staffed by the owner. So I am at a loss as to why this bill was even written. So I looked to the legislative analysis for answers, and found some of the most ridiculous reasoning and lack of logic I think I’ve ever read.

Not only does the bill ban smoking in tobacco shops, it over-reaches into the untested waters of protecting non-existent employees.From the language of the bill itself:

“This bill would expand the prohibition on smoking in a place of employment to include an owner-operated business, as defined.”

“(b) For purposes of this section, an “owner-operated business” shall mean a business having no employees, independent contractors, or volunteers, in which the owner-operator of the business is the only worker.”


I thought the whole reason for prohibiting smoking in the workplace was to protect NON-SMOKING EMPLOYEES from second-hand smoke. Now Marky Mark wants to go after ALL BUSINESSES and ALL BUSINESS OWNERS by prohibiting them from smoking in their own place of business EVEN IF THEY ARE ALONE?

From the legislative analysis of the bill:

“Specifically, this bill: Eliminates several exemptions in law which currently allows the smoking of tobacco products in certain work environments, thereby prohibiting the smoking of tobacco products indoors at the following locations:

A. Hotel or motel lobbies.
B. Meeting and banquet rooms in a hotel or motel.
C. Retail or wholesale tobacco shops and private smokers’ lounges.
D. Warehouse facilities.
E. Gaming clubs.
F. Bars and taverns.
G. Patient smoking areas in long-term health care facilities.
H. Employee break rooms.
I. Owner-operated businesses.
J. Employers with a total of five or fewer employees.

So let me get this straight, Mr. Desaulnier. Far from protecting non-smoking employees from second-hand smoke, you really just want to ban all smoking by anyone at any time anywhere. You just don’t have the guts to say so. So you are going to incrementally increase the prohibition little by little, warming up the water ever so slowly so us frogs don’t notice until it’s too late.

Senator DeSauonier has tried this before. In the 2007 session of the legislature when Mr. DeSaulnier was in the State Assembly, he introduced the following:

AB 1467 (DeSaulnier), 2007-08 Session, which would have removed the exemptions that permit smoking in specified bars, warehouses, hotel lobbies, employee break rooms, and meeting and banquet rooms, while retaining exemptions for other types of businesses. In addition, the bill would have prohibited smoking in specified owner-operated businesses regardless of whether or not they have employees. The bill was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

But, as we all know, the Governors office is now inhabited by Mr. Brown, who probably doesn’t care as much about preserving personal freedom.

One reason given for the this change in the law is that he thinks that other states have jumped ahead of California in its expansion of tyranny, and this bill is an effort to help California re-take the lead in its crushing of personal liberty. Continuing from the legislative analysis:

According to the author, in 1994,California led the nation when it passed a smoke free workplace law that helped protect millions of workers and business patrons from the health dangers associated with secondhand smoke. The author argues that, unfortunately, California now lags behind other states’ smoke free workplace laws because of its exemptions which allow for indoor work environments where people may be exposed to secondhand smoke. ”

I have a question for my humble public servant: how does prohibiting smoking by the owner of a small business where he is the only one working protect “millions of workers and business patrons” from second-hand smoke? If they have no employees there is no one to protect. If I am the patron of a business and see the owner smoking, I can leave. If I don’t care that he is smoking, the law serves no purpose.

Apparently this level of reasoning evades our distinguished Senator.

Then we stumbled upon a clue as to why he is pushing this bill. Again from the legislative analysis:

“According to proponents, there is simply no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Proponents content that almost 14 percent of indoor workers reported being exposed to secondhand smoke at work in the previous two weeks in the California Tobacco Survey. Proponents argue that this workplace exposure is not spread equitably across all workers as low-income workers, young adults, and Latinos are disproportionately exposed. According to proponents, employees who work in the settings currently exempted deserve as much protection as the rest of us.”

So apparently California has been discriminating against the poor, young people, and Latinos! And what constituencies do the Democrats rely on for their continuing hold on power in the state? Let me think…

We have a message for Mr. DeSaulnier. We caught you. You pretend to want to protect non-smoking employees from second-hand smoke, yet you author legislation targeting businesses with no employees. You pander to your base while trampling on the liberty of the rest of your constituents. You are apparently either unaware of the current economic situation and the struggles of small owner-operated businesses, or you don’t care.

We urge everyone to call your legislator and urge a NO vote on SB 575.


  1. Wendy Lack says

    Who needs state legislation when local jurisdictions are eagerly passing their own ordinances banning smoking, well, just about everywhere, as the PH Rec & Park District did last month:

    Will be interesting to see how “voluntary enforcement” works out for guests attending events at District facilities (e.g., all of those wedding receptions at the community center), who are shocked to discover they are prohibited from smoking outdoors, in parking lots and park areas. What’s left — smoking in their cars? or standing on the highway median? or, more likely, sneaking onto CPHS campus where smoking goes on all the time anyway (tobacco, et. al.).

    Now if only the District were able to stop kids in the parks smoking dope after school . . . but the “voluntary enforcement” thingy doesn’t work so well in that case, I guess.

  2. Milan Moravec says

    All Californians pay for Senator Mark Desaulnier’s folly. Desaulnier authored the bill that allows public employees to spike their pensions so that pension payments are greater than salary.

    74% of the $850,000 collected by Desaulnier came from Sacramento – lobbyists. Sacramento is not in Desaulnier’s district

    Remember DesAULNIER IN nOVEMBER 2012

  3. primo says

    Well,in the last 2 markeymark newsflashes,I agrree with something:he does pander too too much.
    Way Way overdue to put this guy out to pasture.
    why doesn’t he join the army or something.
    I guess he finally learned how to spell budgett.

  4. Pay Attention says

    These types of Bills only serve to glorify the author. The result is a mirage of laws that only consume paper and clog the system down further. For every law passed there should be a law repealed. Maybe even two laws repealed with the amount of nonsense laws that exist.

  5. Kevin G. says

    I often wonder why and when the generation of “Question Authority” and “Never Trust Anyone over 30″ became the generation of “Government Knows Best”?

  6. Wendy Lack says

    Wait a sec . . . how can smoking by a single owner-operator working alone be considered “secondhand smoke”?

    Or is this just how they do math in Sacramento which, when you stop to think about it, would explain a lot of things . . . ?

    @BGR: In the current political-philosophical landscape, Libertarians and Objectivists are the only ones who come close to qualifying as “free thinkers.” It is indeed a shame that the Democratic party has become the party of Statists . . . and an even greater shame that the Dem party has an intractable death grip on California’s government and economy.

    A state is a terrible thing to waste, though the majority party in Sacto has become awfully good at it.

  7. CN says

    I wonder when young people will realize that despite their appeal to youth, the progressives are far more puritanical than their conservative counterparts.

    • says

      Secular pietism

      I am often amazed at the confusion that 60s radicals and so-called “freedom fighters” exhibit as they play useful idiots to an all encompassing voracious State as if this one is different than the one they demonstrated against 50 years ago.

      Makes you wonder who the free thinkers are these days, don’t it!