The air board's action puts tobacco smoke in the same category as the toxic fumes that spew from car tail pipes. For years state regulators have had to monitor and reduce public exposure to that noxious pollutant. Now they must devise plans to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke.
California smokers release a combined 400 tons of nicotine, soot, ash and carbon dioxide into the air every year. That gunk is linked to thousands of deaths and asthma attacks in nonsmokers. When smokers die from their habit, it's a self inflicted wound, but they take many innocent victims with them.
Smoking is already banned in restaurants, bars and all work places. The next challenge may be more private settings. I'm thinking, a non smoker who has asthma, living in an apartment complex, sharing a common ventilation system with a smoker. Exposure is constant and unavoidable. Some communities have already created non smoking sections in senior apartment complexes. That idea is likely to spread.
If nothing else, the state's action serves to remind smokers that their addiction has dangerous consequences not only to them, but to everyone near them, especially children. It's a message that cannot be delivered often enough.
Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.