Breathe Easy, LA.

03/04/2011 09:00 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Clean air isn't just about caring for our environment; it's about tackling a root cause of many serious health issues such as cancer and asthma that are amplified by poor air quality. On Monday, I was proud to join international cycling icon and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong and Stand Up to Cancer to announce my support for the California Cancer Research Act. We need the voters of California to enact this law in June, but we also need to enact change at the local-level now.

That is why I am proud of the fact that Los Angeles is leading the rest of the country in championing policy that protects public health. LA is the largest city to implement the Fresh Air Dining Campaign -- a new policy that prohibits anyone from smoking within 10 feet of outdoor dining areas and within 40 feet of mobile food kiosks, carts, or trucks. This new restriction will protect patrons and workers from breathing the toxic chemicals that come along with secondhand smoke, as well as help patrons enjoy their dining experiences in a smoke-free setting.

This is yet another step in the right direction of promoting healthier living for Angelenos. Over the past three years, we have banned smoking at city beaches, city parks, farmers markets and within 25 feet of playgrounds, bleachers, sports courts and fields, and picnic areas.

We have been at the forefront of this fight, since cancer and other smoking-related illnesses are uniquely dangerous. They don't just affect smokers -- they affect all the people around them. According to the LA County Department of Health:

  • There are approximately 4.8 million deaths worldwide from smoking each year
  • The majority of smokers begin before the age of 18 and 1 out of 3 smokers began smoking before the age of 14
  • Second hand smoke exposure causes as many as 300,000 children in the United States under the age of 19 months to suffer lower respiratory tract infections and exacerbates child asthma

This new policy represents our efforts to ensure we are doing everything we can to curb cancer and other smoking-related illnesses while also improving our air quality and quality of life. We must keep fighting for robust anti-smoking policies that are critical to creating livable communities.