Part XXXXVXII: On a Clear Day…and Night (Part 2)
Things do not change; we change.
~ Henry David Thoreau
Although we were originally just Intervenors in the lawsuit when it was at the Superior Court level, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, the American Lung Association and I later became Intervenors and Appellants when the case reached the Court of Appeal. Again, I was not required to participate personally in any of the legal proceedings, but Roger Diamond made sure that we received correspondence all along, letting us know what we were doing in court :-).
Approximately one year after the case was first filed, I received a letter addressed to me and to Bruce Nasby, President of the American Lung Association, which stated as follows…
“Dear Bruce and Marilyn:
I am very pleased to advise you that on August 25, 1994, the Court of Appeal reversed the ruling of Judge Robert O’Brien and ruled that the City’s requirements that the circulators of the referendum petition be registered voters is valid. Therefore, the ordinance of the City of Los Angeles banning smoking in restaurants will continue to be enforced and will not be subject to a referendum vote by the citizens of Los Angeles.
Roger Jon Diamond”
At the end of that month, I received another letter from Roger enclosing a copy of the Decision of Court of Appeal. I found out that the published decision was historical in significance and I had indeed participated in something much larger than myself and my personal sensitivities. It was because of that legal decision that California’s Smoke-Free Workplace Law, AB 13, was introduced and put in effect as of January 1, 1995.
On February 13th, I was given the opportunity to write an article for the Los Angeles Business Journal about the law. I titled it, On a Clear Day…and Night. Subtitle: Nonsmokers are now the majority and entertainment venues would do well to heed the call.
I opened the article…
”With the January effective date of California’s Smoke-Free Workplace Law, nonsmokers have finally won their right to breathe easier at work. Along with the obvious business, commercial, and retail buildings, the statute includes restaurants, bowling centers, pool halls, and other recreational facilities, but it does not include bars in restaurants, nightclubs, comedy clubs, or gaming parlors. The new law requires that those venues become smoke-free by 1997.”
I did a lot of research for the article and gave statistics, including those from smokers, regarding preferences for smoke-free environments. I interviewed and highlighted those establishments that had already become smoke-free although not yet required to, and was delighted to find that their revenues had greatly increased as a result. I wrote about the increasing number of lawsuits that were being filed by persons with respiratory disabilities linked to their exposure to secondhand smoke and the connection to the Americans with Disabilities Act. I wrote about jazz clubs and other entertainment venues, theatres and the performing arts, corporate entertaining, “singles” looking for love, and lawsuits.
The article’s byline read…
“Marilyn Jenett is the owner of Marilyn Jenett Locations, a renowned special event location company with offices in Los Angeles.”
But that wasn’t all… There were two other events that spontaneously occurred that I would like to share, especially the one in which my company was involved as a direct supporter of the cause.
Let’s go back a couple of years before these laws were enacted…
In 1992, I received a call from the California Department of Health Services and the Western Consortium for Public Health. They had been referred to me regarding their upcoming Awards for Excellence Ceremony as part of their "Revolt against Tobacco" Conference at the Biltmore Hotel. The contact had been told that I might be able to help them with entertainment options for the awards ceremony.
I was able to put together a wonderful program for the evening called “Tobacco Laughs and Lyrics.” First I was able to book professional comedian Jeffrey Jena, who created incredibly funny material based on the smoking issue. He was a big hit. But I also had another idea that we brought to fruition. A friend of mine at the time, Udana Power, was an actress, but she also had an incredible singing voice. For years, she had acting roles on various television shows and played “Fran Woods”, a recurring role on General Hospital, but although she had performed in theatre, her singing talent was not widely known. She occasionally did solo cabaret shows and was an extremely creative singer/storyteller.
Udana and I got together and wrote parodies of several famous songs: Second Hand Rose became “Second Hand Smoke.” Smoke Gets In Your Eyes became “Smoke Gets Up My Nose.” Udana performed those songs in serious songstress style but singing the very funny lyrics and everyone loved it.
But we had also composed the “Don’t Smoke Rap.” It was a real rap song and targeted at the tobacco industry. If I can say so myself, it was very, very clever. Udana changed costume for her stage “rap.” She ended her set with Wind Beneath My Wings as a tribute to all of the heroes of tobacco control who were being honored that evening.
I received a lovely thank you from the California Department of Health Services and the Western Consortium for Public Health, which I have kept and still treasure along with all of the other items I mentioned previously.
The other significant opportunity that presented itself along the way was my appearance on a television show, Harvey in the Lion’s Den, a live show airing on the local CBS station. The host addressed controversial topics and encouraged debate on both sides. I was again called to “duty”. :-) I appeared on the show and had a chance to voice my opinion along with others, including Patrick Reynolds. Reynolds is a grandson of the tobacco company founder, R.J. Reynolds; the family's brands, Camel and Winston, killed his father and eldest brother, and he became a nationally known smokefree advocate.
I don’t think I need to tell you how proud I was to have found my “voice” in this matter and how grateful I was that the Universe opened these doors of opportunity for me to speak. I can truly state that I felt that my involvement in this piece of history was the most important accomplishment of my life. Not only did the ordinances and laws protect nonsmokers – they were just as significant in encouraging smokers to finally quit – if only because of the inconvenience they experienced. I can only imagine the number of lives that were ultimately saved or how much individual suffering has been prevented because of the influence of these laws.
It appears that one way or the other, I was destined to be involved with “laws” of some kind. :-)
To be continued...
Private Reply to Marilyn Jenett (new win)