Belmont California is a suburb south of San Francisco. To the glee of its mayor and a few of its city councilmembers the town has attracted international attention as the first to propose banning smoking in private homes. That the attention has been overwhelmingly negative outside of California adds icing to the prohibitionists’ cake. We’re soooo progressive, they coo to themselves and soooo brave.

Our coverage in March detailed the extent to which anti-tobacco, the pharmaceutical industry and its stooges in government are willing to go to inflict discrimination on a targeted group of people who are lawfully enjoy a legal product. We noted that the legislation was written by an attorney who works for an anti-smoking organization that is funded by a pharmaceutical front group. We marvelled that legislation banning smoking in apartments, as well as outside of those apartments, was the heavy-handed response to one person in a old folks home who claimed, without any evidence, that he was made ill by his smoking neighbors. We asserted then as we assert now that those city council members, as well as the mayor, having at their finger tips all the resources available to legislators, including legal advice, know full well that the hazards the legislation claims to address do not exist. Our current update concerns a few points culled from the San Francisco Chronicle on the town meeting that would be held Tuesday evening.

City Councilman William Dickenson said he thinks the council is ready to move forward with legislation that restricts smoking in multi-unit buildings as long as civil liberties are also protected and designated smoking areas are set aside.

"I want to be fair,” said Dickenson. "I want to be aware of the minority and the rights they also have. It’s not just rule by majority."

Civil liberties obviously don’t mean much to a man who believes they encompass forbidding apartment dwellers from smoking in the homes they pay for. He is right when he says the rule is not made by the majority since, if passed, it will have been made by the handful of residents who are councilmembers, as well, of course, by the one old man whose delusional complaints got the band rolling. Across the bay in Oakland the city council is also poised to "make history" by prohibiting smoking in multiunit dwellings. This ordinance will be discussed in City Hall, also on Tuesday.

Oakland councilwoman Jane Brunner said Monday that she cannot support restricting the rights of smokers to light up in their own homes.

We expect that Councilwoman Brunner will have been a lone voice of decency at the Tuesday meeting in city hall. Congratulations are in order although it is positively chilling that her sentiment is now the apparent exception in Belmont, Oakland and other American cities. When America was civilized and not under the sway of corporate mercantile interests, as seen by the pharmaceutical industry’s influence in Belmont and every other place where smoking bans are imposed or proposed, her support of the most basic of property rights would have been the rule and would never have had to be expressed.

What’s missing from this story is any appearance by the American Civil Liberties Union. In years past the ACLU tepidly supported a few individuals crushed by anti-tobacco but as we come to a point in history where residents are forbidden to smoke in their own, privately-owned homes, the ACLU is missing in action. Rest assured, had Belmont touched smokers of medical marijuana in this despicable legislation the ACLU would be trumpeting and litigating its opposition. Sadly, the ACLU is just another co-opted organization whose leadership supports the goals of anti-tobacco and its pharmaceutical patrons. The smokers in Belmont are on their own as will be all smokers unless they rise up and loudly proclaim that they will not take this oppression any longer.

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