Part XXXXVXI: On a Clear Day…and Night
When I tell any truth it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it,
but for the sake of defending those who do.
~ William Blake
To see what is right, and not do it, is want of courage, or of principle.
Back to the Future
Before reaching the end of my story, I would like to tell you about a very significant part of my life and circumstances. Although it primarily relates to a personal side of my life, my entrepreneurial abilities also became involved – and proudly so. This tale would not be complete without sharing with you the course of historical events in the’ 90s in which I become involved and that resulted in what I felt up to that time was the greatest achievement of my life, which I will reveal at the end of this story within the story.
As an adult, I had developed a couple of distinct sensitivities that seemed to become enhanced as a matured and developed my spiritual awareness. I never knew the exact correlation but I intuitively feel that it was related to my growing consciousness. I would like to think that as we become more refined in our energy “frequencies” and become more attuned to our connection to the Universal flow – that our senses become more rebellious to aspects of the world that are offensive or that are not good for us. It’s spiritually poetic to think that as we raise our consciousness, our physical body becomes more attuned to harmony, peace and purity in our inner and outer environment.
The one area that was pronounced in my life and that impacted my equilibrium was my strong sensitivity to cigarette smoke.
For years, that aversion restricted certain social and dining activities and occasionally caused problems when someone would light up in the office suite, in which case I would have to leave the floor. In the early years, I had a “victim” consciousness with regard to this, thinking that I was the only one in the world who had this issue. I just couldn’t tolerate being around cigarette smoke but had to tolerate the silent indignation of having to live in a world where others took away the air that I breathed or prevented me from freely enjoying activities. I recall that in the events business, before laws were passed and put in effect, certain locations permitted smoking. I would usually have staff run those events, but sometimes I had to be on site and it was not easy.
Years later I became aware of a movement in San Francisco, I realized for the first time in my life that I wasn’t alone. I heard that people were protesting and fighting for the right to smoke-free environments. I recall being lifted to a completely new state of being from this awareness. I bemoaned the fact that I had spent so many years criticizing myself for being so sensitive, and being criticized by others who would say it was “all in my head” – or patrons who nastily told me to leave the restaurant if I even politely mentioned that their smoke was bothering me - when in fact there were so many others out there just like me. And now they had a voice. I was elated. I didn’t know it at first, but those brave souls would help me to find my own voice and make a difference.
Over time, the movements became stronger and spread from Northern California to Los Angeles and eventually throughout many areas of the country.. It was a heated debate and the underlying theme was money. In 1987, the City of Beverly Hills passed a total ban, but repealed it less than a year later under intense pressure from restaurateurs, who said they had heavy business losses. In 1993, in one of his final official acts as Mayor of Los Angeles after 20 years, Tom Bradley signed a bill making the city the largest in the country to ban smoking altogether in restaurants. The main force behind the movement was our hero, Councilman Marvin Braude, a former smoker, who waged a 15-year crusade for the ban and finally succeeded. Numerous debates followed, the tobacco industry rebelled, but there was no doubt, as bans were passed in other communities, that California was at the forefront of the anti-smoking drive. Eventually various bills were introduced in the California State Legislature and a lengthy battle ensued between various factions representing the public’s desire for smoke-free environments, their opposition, and the tobacco industry.
At the heart of the broader movement was Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the leading national lobbying organization dedicated to nonsmokers’ rights, taking on the tobacco industry at all levels of government, protecting nonsmokers from exposure to secondhand smoke and preventing tobacco addiction among youth. ANR was formed in 1976 and began with efforts to enact legislation to protect nonsmokers in the workplace and enclosed public places. Its efforts have reaches thousands of communities and states and they assist countries around the globe to enact regulations. In 2006, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report praised the organization as “the recognized leader in the field.” ANR’s sister organization, American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation is a non-lobbying, nonprofit educational organization that provides resources for schools, health departments and medical organizations and training for youth and adults.
I was so impressed with and happy about the activities of ANR that I became a silent supporter and contributor - regularly donating money to its efforts and listed in its Annual Report as a major supporter. I proudly displayed on my office wall a Certificate of Appreciation that I received for my “enthusiastic support toward a smokefree society.” I also made myself available to the organization’s directors for anything that I might do as a “passive activist.”
Immediately following the passing of Councilman Braude’s restaurant ban ordinance in 1993, there was a major uproar. Big Tobacco was not about to take this lying down (hmmm…this could be a serious pun, if you get my drift) and began a campaign to gather petition signatures – a couple of hundred thousand of them, as a matter of fact, which they “dumped” on City Hall, for the purpose of blocking the ordinance and calling for its repeal and another referendum vote by the public.
A lawsuit resulted between certain plaintiffs and the defendants, which included the City Clerk of the City of Los Angeles. Here are the facts, stated as simply as I can without too much legal jargon…
Unaware of the lawsuit at the time, I received a call at my office from someone I knew who was involved in the smokefree movement and knew that I was passionate about the cause.
She explained that it was discovered that the petitions contained an insufficient number of valid signatures of registered voters of the City of Los Angeles and that many of the circulators of the petition were not lawfully registered voters of the city, either. The statutory provision of the City Election Code required that circulators of petitions be residents and qualified registered voters of the City of Los Angeles, or the signatures are not valid and could not be counted.
She told me that I should call a certain attorney, Roger Jon Diamond, immediately, as they were looking for someone who lived and worked in the City of Los Angeles to represent the citizens of Los Angeles who wanted the restaurant ordinance to remain in place. I was stunned at the idea that I could have the opportunity to be involved at this level, but I called Roger Diamond, the attorney who was offering his services pro bono ("without payment and for the public good").
He explained that I would become one of the Intervenors in the lawsuit, participants to the suit who have an interest in the matter in litigation and would be affected by the outcome. We were not parties to the case - the legal phrase is amicus curia, literally translated as “friend of the court” – volunteers who offer information on a point of law or aspect of the case to assist the court in deciding a matter.
I recall that I told Roger that if the only thing of value that I had done in my lifetime was to fight the tobacco industry, then I would not have lived in vain. And I was profoundly humbled and ecstatic that the Universe had chosen me to be an Intervenor in this case along with Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights and the American Lung Association of Los Angeles County. I was representing the citizens of Los Angeles for whose benefit and protection the restaurant ordinance was enacted. I was not required to do anything at all – the attorneys would take care of everything. I didn’t know that by lending my name to the lawsuit, I and the other Intervenors would end up as Appellants in a case that a year later would result in a historical decision by the California Court of Appeals...
More to come on this legal matter...also how my business, Marilyn Jenett Locations, became involved in an important, but "lighter" side of the movement...and my brief television moment in support of the cause.
Interesting Bits of Trivia:
1518: Spanish explorers find the Aztecs and Mayans smoking tobacco through hollow reeds. The visitors try it - and the first cigarette is bummed.
1936: National magazines begin carrying full-page ads that feature health claims, culminating in assertions such as: "More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette."
1938: Camels are advertised as relieving fatigue and aiding digestion. Kool claims to protect against the common cold, and Old Golds boast "Not a cough in a carload."
1953: Ronald Reagan appears in magazine ads with a Chesterfield dangling from his lips, saying "No unpleasant aftertaste."
[Reader's Digest, April 1992]
To be continued...
Private Reply to Marilyn Jenett (new win)