[Open Letter to the Honorable Phillip Maloof]
February 18, 1999
CONTACT: Scott Goold at 505.293.2504
Dear Senator Maloof:

Our organization has followed your professional and political efforts for some time. We fully supported your efforts this past November in your campaign for the national position. We ask for your support on two important pieces of legislation.

First, we ask that you vote NO on SB 351. This proposed legislation preempts communities from making their own decisions about Clean Indoor Air (CIA) provisions designed to restrict smoking both in businesses and the workplace. Our organization does not advocate for a prohibition on smoking. We ask only that children, teens and nonsmokers are adequately protected from the hazardous and toxic chemicals contained in second-hand cigarette smoke.

Research is conclusive on this matter. Second-hand cigarette smoke is dangerous to human health. In a December 1998 statewide study conducted by Albuquerque's Research & Polling, Inc., over 80% of New Mexicans reported they consider second-hand cigarette smoke to be hazardous to health. The public is overwhelming aware of the dangers.

Our organization would prefer a more enlightened community plan regarding this important issue. For example, we would like to see the adoption of "separate but equal" policies. At present the Albuquerque CIA ordinance allows up to 30% of a restaurant facility to be assigned to smokers. We do not have a problem with the intent of this legislation, but there is nothing that contains the second-hand smoke. As an illustration of the problem, I ask you to show me how one can chlorinate half of a swimming pool. It cannot be done. Air is similar to water in this respect. We therefore need separate but equal facilities. Such a compromise allows smokers to pursue their pleasures and nonsmokers to observe their right to maintain a healthy lifestyle. SB 351 is simplistically drafted and designed solely for the purpose of protecting smokers. We need more eloquent statesmanship on this matter. You are highly intelligent and can thus help find a solution that better suits all interests.

Second, we ask that you DO NOT support SB 533 or the counterpart bill in the house, HB 525. Our position may surprise you since many of our tobacco-reduction colleagues advocate for this legislation. Our organization supports HB 183 introduced by Mr. Sanchez. For over 40 years New Mexicans as well as the citizens across the nation have been paying both higher taxes and receiving diminished government services because of the health costs and burden to society levied by tobacco illnesses, disease and death.

We believe that the money from the recent Attorneys General tobacco settlement should be returned to all the people. While social workers, teachers, educators and health policy researchers desperately need further and increased funding, it would be unfair for such a poor state to allocate a high percentage of the settlement for any specific purpose. We will continue our volunteer and non-paid efforts as we have in the past. As you are aware convictions that originate from the heart are always more powerful and effective than those based on money.

Thank you so much for your anticipated support and continued work in this area.


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