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The Berkeley Ordinance

In the spring of 1973, lawyer and legal editor Peter Hanauer went to a meeting of Berkeley GASP after his wife saw a meeting notice on a community bulletin board. Hanauer recalled, “It was a fairly ineffective group at the time. I mean, we were busy grinding out leaflets and trying to get a few new members here and there.”[4] While there were thoughts about some greater level of activism—two of the founders, Irene and Dave Peterson, had created a foundation to provide legal representation to people who were affected by secondhand smoke in the workplace—not much happened until they were joined by Paul Loveday, a former professional basketball player turned lawyer. Loveday brought a clear vision and strong leadership to the group and soon became president of GASP. The aggressive Loveday and studious Hanauer, who was elected treasurer, were the “odd couple” that became the backbone of the nonsmokers' rights movement in California.

Encouraged by the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act, GASP, led by Loveday, Hanauer, and Tim Moder, a chemist who turned his home into the group's headquarters,[3] decided to persuade the Berkeley City Council to pass an ordinance restricting smoking in public indoor spaces and requiring separate sections for smokers and nonsmokers in restaurants. Although they wanted a statewide law, they knew there was little chance of success without some preliminary steps. Passing a local law would show that nonsmoking sections were possible and would give them some experience in writing legislation. The proposed ordinance was introduced in the Berkeley City Council in April 1976.

After a year-long campaign, which included numerous city council meetings as well as meetings with restauranteurs and local merchants, the Berkeley City Council passed the ordinance by a 9-0 vote in April 1977. The Berkeley victory illustrated an important lesson for Hanauer: “At the local level, as we discovered over the years, we could beat the tobacco industry, because their lobbyists could not defeat grassroots organizations who had the ears of their neighbors and friends who were on the city council.”[4]


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