Letter from Melissa Renteria

I vividly remember celebrating my fourteenth birthday with my family. We sat on the patio of my favorite restaurant, enjoying the perfect weather. I could see the waiter coming with my meal and as I was expecting to smell my bacon cheeseburger, instead, I was shocked by a whiff of cigarette smoke.

According to the Surgeon General, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Knowing this, why should non-smokers be subject to deleterious health risks while trying to enjoy a meal on the patio of a restaurant? Is it necessary to expose restaurant staff to concerning risks when they are just trying to do their job?

It is vital to protect our communities from harm. Children are more susceptible to facing significant health detriments, including more frequent and severe asthma attacks, respiratory and ear infections, and sudden infant death syndrome. Youth can also be influenced to accept tobacco use as normal, acceptable behavior. Having a smoke-free outdoor dining policy would also support individuals who are attempting to quit. These paramount reasons are why we want to urge the city to make outdoor dining areas smoke-free to protect the public’s health.