Opposition To Smoking Bans Heats Up Epilogue

By Norman E. Kjono, March 8, 2007

Recent events in Urbana, Illinois that were published on February 21, 2007 drive home the point about smear, "discrediting" campaigns directed against smoking ban opponents by tobacco control advocates associated with the American Cancer Society. Opposition to Smoking Bans Heats Up VII addressed similar events in Ohio, which occurred last week during and immediately after a hearing before the Ohio Department of Health concerning rules to implement that states new statewide smoking ban. The ban was passed as Issue 5 on the Ohio November ballot last year.  

The Columbus Dispatch initially reported in its February 28, 2007 article, "Tempers Flare at Hearing on Ohio's Smoking Ban,"  by James Nash:  

"The State Highway Patrol advised the two American Cancer Society representatives to leave the Ohio Department of Health hearing because of threats from some in the crowd, said Wendy Simpkins, spokeswoman for the society.  

The Ohio State Highway Patrol provided the following response on March 2, 2007 to Deborah Kistner, who opposes the Ohio ban and attended the Ohio Department of Health Meeting where the alleged incident took place. The Ohio highway patrol informed Ms. Kistner: 

Thank you for your e-mail.  James Nash, a reporter from the Columbus Dispatch, inaccurately reported that troopers asked the two people to leave.  Our troopers did not ask anyone to leave, and in fact, reported that the hearing was uneventful.  Our department contacted James Nash, who stated he was advised that information from a spokesperson from the American Cancer Society.  Again, no threats were made, and the Ohio State Highway Patrol did not ask, urge, or suggest that anyone leave the hearing.  We were strictly there to provide security, and no action whatsoever was taken during the hearing.  Thank you. 

On March 5, 2007 the Columbus Dispatch published "Report of Threat at Smoking Ban Hearing Causes Quite A Stir:"   

This much is not in dispute: With about 45 minutes remaining in a contentious public hearing last week about Ohio's smoking ban, the two co-chairwomen of the successful antismoking campaign got up and left. Why Tracy Sabetta and Susan Jagers slipped out of the room, like much in the question about ridding public places in Ohio of smoking, is open to debate. Sabetta said she left because an assistant attorney general in the room relayed a veiled threat from a man in the audience. But opponents of the smoking ban accuse Sabetta of making up the threat to drum up sympathy and brand them as dangerous malcontents. . . . Seattle-area writer and smokers' rights advocate Norman Kjono, who called on The Dispatch to retract its account, said the American Cancer Society has a history of inventing threats against its personnel in debates over smoking laws. Sabetta said that's never happened in Ohio. She also said that before the meeting, she got an e-mail with a picture of a gun pointing toward her."  

We are left with allegations of threats against supporters of smoking bans that did not occur as reported by those associated with the American Cancer Society and that law enforcement officers specifically repudiate. 

Enter additional facts, as reported in the Illinois News Gazette, February 21, 2007, "Bar Visit Prompts Allegation, Denial," by Mike Monson: 

URBANA - An Urbana woman who was active in the successful campaign to make bars and restaurants smoke-free in Champaign-Urbana contends she was verbally assaulted Saturday night by the owner of a Champaign bar. The owner of the bar denies he acted inappropriately. . . . Cheri Manrique, 40, of Urbana said she went alone to Memphis on Main Street, in downtown Champaign, around 9 p.m. Saturday to hear a band called ESP.. . . Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney said, after checking police reports, that officers who responded didn't believe an assault had occurred. 'We determined a crime had not occurred,' he said. . . . Obviously, there was some tension between the two, but it didn't rise to the charge of an assault.' Council member Rosales said he thinks Sellers should be warned by the city liquor commissioner, Mayor Jerry Schweighart, that any repeat of such an incident could lead to the suspension of his liquor license. 'They should not be able to harass the customers,' he said. 'Shame on the owners. It's not acceptable.'" 

Again, we confront an alleged verbal assault that the Chief of Police says did not occur that results in a threat to suspend a bar owners liquor license

The person making the complaint about verbal assault in Illinois is with the C-U Smokefree Alliance, http://www.cu-smokefree.org/ which lists the American Cancer Society among its supporters. As noted on the home page for that organization and in additional news, The Alliance specifically endorses candidates that favor their "Smoke Free" cause and attacks opponents of candidates they favor. Do we again see special-interest dollars and perhaps private foundation influence being applied behind the scenes in public elections? 

We can, at the least, commend The Gazette for including the claims about threats and law enforcement denial of events as alleged in the same news article.  

As reported yesterday by me on March 7, the recent, unseemly events in Ohio are also associated with threats to revoke the liquor licenses of bar owners to enforce the smoking ban: 

 

From the Toledo Blade, March 4, 2007, "Official Wants State to Shut Repeat Smoke-Ban Violators,"  by Jenni Laidman:  

Taverns and restaurants that repeatedly violate Ohio's smoking ban should be forced to close, according to the Toledo-Lucas County health commissioner. Dr. David Grossman this week wrote to the Ohio Department of Health, saying "repeat violators" ought to face the possibility of losing their liquor licenses, and if the business is not a bar, should face the threat of closing. 'I have a big concern that the fines will not necessarily be enough to bring these people into compliance,' Dr. Grossman said. While small businesses would not be able to afford repeated fines of $2,500, a large establishment 'might consider this a cost of doing business.' 'That's completely unnecessary,' said Jim Avolt, owner of The Distillery on Heatherdowns Boulevard. 'I think it's a foolish position, but that's not the first foolish position [Dr. Grossman] has taken on the matter. . . . The Toledo-Lucas County board of health last month unanimously approved a motion calling for the closing of repeat violators, which prompted Dr. Grossman's letter." (Underline added.)  

We are left with an unseemly pattern of conduct of alleged assaults that law enforcement says did not occur as represented that are associated with threats to suspend a bar owners liquor license. Each of these events are directly or indirectly associated with the American Cancer Society and its brutish-some would say now-manic-promotion and thuggish enforcement of smoking bans in states throughout the land.  

I reported in Opposition to Smoking Bans Heats Up VI: 

"I began my efforts opposing smoking bans in 1994. At the time the Washington passed its smoking ban in office work environments. I provided extensive information about secondhand smoke and the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) system installed at out company to the Washington Department of Labor and industries in June 1994. I was featured in an article by Seattle Times Columnist Don Hannula, Speaking Out On Behalf Of Public Enemy No. 1 . I later wrote a special to the Seattle Times,  Taxpayers Footing The Bill To Help Anti-Tobacco Lobby Push Its Regulation Agenda. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from a free lance writer who wanted to do an article about me for what is now the Seattle Weekly. I agreed. The article (link no longer available but hard copy retained) falsely quoted me-a Viet Nam vet-as saying this would become Mi Lai (a massacre) if it did not end. The American Cancer Society falsely characterized me to the writer as a "Front for Big Tobacco" (copy of disclosed tape recording of my conversation with ACS staff about that characterization retained). The net result being one who voiced opposition to a smoking ban and had actual onsite, data about ETS already delivered to a state agency was publicly vilified in a feature article with a front page headline "Outlaw Smokers." I sent a copy of the tape recording and a sworn affidavit to the American Cancer Society the day after the telephone conversation. No response was received. The American Cancer Society materially aided in that public vilification of me and refused to comment after doing so." 

According to my personal, firsthand knowledge it appears that the pattern of conduct by persons associated with the American Cancer Society, to use the press to demean, vilify, and "discredit" opponents of smoking ban policy through use of false statements and claims that defame members of visible opposition dates back to at least 1994. It is far past time for this unseemly practice to end.  

The preceding information and events inspired today's E-Mail from me to Mr. Nash at the Columbus Dispatch, senior management of The Dispatch, and Wendy Simpkins with the American Cancer Society: 

-----Original Message-----
From: Norm Kjono [mailto:normkarl@earthlink.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 08, 2007 1:03 PM
To: 'James Nash'
Cc: 'wendy.simpkins@cancer.org'; 'Deborah Kistner'; 'mfiorile@dispatch.com'; 'bmarrison@dispatch.com'; 'mcurtin@dispatch.com'
Subject: Additional "Threats" Against Tobacco Control Advocates

 

Mr. Nash,

 

The following will be included in my commentary "Opposition to Smoking Bans - Epilogue" to be posted at Forces.org for the weekend tomorrow. 

From the Illinois News Gazette, February 21, 2007, "Bar Visit Prompts Allegation, Denial," by Mike Monson: 

URBANA - An Urbana woman who was active in the successful campaign to make bars and restaurants smoke-free in Champaign-Urbana contends she was verbally assaulted Saturday night by the owner of a Champaign bar. The owner of the bar denies he acted inappropriately. . . . Cheri Manrique, 40, of Urbana said she went alone to Memphis on Main Street, in downtown Champaign, around 9 p.m. Saturday to hear a band called ESP. . . . Champaign Police Chief R.T. Finney said, after checking police reports, that officers who responded didn't believe an assault had occurred. 'We determined a crime had not occurred,' he said. 'The person has to be in fear of a battery. Obviously, there was some tension between the two, but it didn't rise to the charge of an assault.' Council member Rosales said he thinks Sellers should be warned by the city liquor commissioner, Mayor Jerry Schweighart, that any repeat of such an incident could lead to the suspension of his liquor license. 'They should not be able to harass the customers,' he said. 'Shame on the owners. It's not acceptable.'" 

An alleged verbal assault that the Chief of Police says did not occur that results in a threat to suspend a bar owners liquor license. Do we see a pattern here? I am surprised that you did not pick up on this in your Nexus search for articles about alleged threats against tobacco control advocates in other states.  

See attached for full text of the arricle. Please note that the person making the complaint about verbal assault is with the C-U Smokefree Alliance, http://www.cu-smokefree.org/ which lists the American Cancer Society among its supporters. As noted on the home page for that organization and in additional news, The Alliance specifically endorses candidates that favor their "Smoke Free" cause and attacks opponents of candidates they favor. Do we again see special-interest dollars and perhaps private foundation influence being applied behind the scenes in public elections?  

I maintain my position that false allegations regarding threats is an established pattern of conduct by tobacco control advocates. You know have two remarkably similar incidents reported in Ohio and Illinois within two weeks of each other. Both are nearly precise as to the facts: a tobacco control advocate associated with ACS makes public claims in "the news" about alleged threats; law enforcement denies such event occurred as represented by such persons; a call for suspension of liquor licenses is included in the advocacy mix. Those facts comport with my personal, firsthand experience dating back to 1994.  

Enough already with this unseemly "discrediting" campaign. The good folks who work hard at their hospitality businesses deserve better than that by far. They also merit and have earned the respect of mainstream media news organizations for their earnest efforts. If The Dispatch cannot see fit to accord merit to hospitality owners good faith efforts to change tobacco control's self-serving rules the least honest working people can expect is that your paper will not cut their legs out from under them with a smear campaign.  

Please see link to my commentary that includes text about Ohio below

March 8 [03:00 GMT] - Opposition to Smoking Bans Heats Up VII - Norman Kjono completes his series on the positive developments erupting on the smoking ban front.  From Colorado, Ohio and Hawaii ban proponents are finding that their "expertise" is being questioned by citizens who understand that prohibition is serving no one's interest except for a few, financially motivated special interests.

 

We are pleased to provide an audio link to Mr. Kjono's second appearance on the Chuck Baker Show in which he and Coloradians fighting the smoking ban there discuss what is being done to return freedom to this state. This article also documents the shocking behavior of American Cancer Society operatives in Ohio who claimed to the press that they had to leave a town hall meeting because of threats made against them.  Oh those violent nicotine-crazed smokers!  It turns out, however, that the police officers who, according to the ACS operatives, passed on those threats and urged the ACS operatives to leave the meeting for their safety, have no record that any threats were actually made.  They and citizens at the meeting contradict the ACS operatives' version of the story.  Once again anti-tobacco operatives are caught in a flat out lie.

 

Mainstream media reporters need to grasp the salient points here, and do so immediately: not only are such smear and "discredit" campaigns despicable but also they are clearly understood for what they are by those adversely affected and the public will not stand for such conduct continuing. Mainstream media has an affirmative duty to get its facts straight and to report news for purposes other than that expressed by the George H.W. Bush administration's American Stop Smoking Intervention Study (Project ASSIST). That policy was stated in the April 1993 booklet "Planning for a Tobacco Free Washington," which was published under federal contract to support ASSIST tobacco control advocacy:

 

Media: "Social change requires that people receive persistent and consistent messages from sources they trust. To this end ASSIST resources will be used to generate a variety of media messages that will foster and strengthen public support for proposed policy changes."

 

I believe the message to mainstream media is straightforward: if you choose to squander your stock-in-trade credibility by pandering to pharmaceutical special-interest policy changes please be kind enough to not drag normal folks through the mud, too, while doing so.

 

Historical Figures Weigh In

 

CBS News Reporter Edward R. Murrow 

As I considered the spurious allegations of threats against smoking ban proponents in Illinois and Ohio I thought about an excerpt form  "Perilous Times," http://eprints.law.duke.edu/archive/00001255/   by Geoffrey R. Stone (RR Donnelley 2004). Mr. Stone's book includes an extensive section on the McCarthy era. A few excerpts of that fine and interesting work may be of interest: 

Page 313: "In 1950 congressman Richard Nixon secured election to the Senate by circulating a pink sheet accusing his Democratic opponent, Helen Gahagan Douglas, of voting the Communist line."

 

Page 331-32: "Then, on February 9, a little-known first-term senator from Wisconsin delivered a Lincoln Day radio address at a dinner sponsored by a Republican Women's Club in Wheeling, West Virginia. . . . But McCarthy then departed from his script and asserted, in now infamous words, that he was privy to inside information:

 

'. . . I have a list here in my hand of 205-a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party . . .'

 

This was a complete fabrication. McCarthy had no list. The State Department immediately issued a vehement denial. . . . He altered his numbers, but was unwavering in his claim to possess inside information."

 

Page 377: But the Democrats still controlled Congress in February 1950, and on February 22  the Senate adopted a resolution authorizing a 'full and complete study and investigation' of McCarthy's claims. . . . McCarthy's most celebrated charge involved professor Owen Lattimore, the director of the Page School of International Relations at Johns Hopkins University. . . . On April 6, Lattimore, represented by Abe Fortas, appeared before the [Democrat] Tydings Committee. . . . A series of witnesses demolished Mc Carthy's charge that Lattimore had been disloyal to the United States." (Bracket inserted.) 

Rather than stand to the ethics of Democrat Senator Tydings, recent news reports say today's staffers for U.S. Representative Ellison whisper about Barack Obama "he's a smoker," as if that has the same import as claiming someone was a Communist fifty-five years ago. We observe congressional staffers doing so while undoubtedly flourishing copies of tobacco control claims about secondhand smoke-now eviscerated by OSHA, our federal courts and articles published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute-with the same credulity as Senator McCarthy waved his non-existent list of 205 conspirators. Discarding the Democrat legacy of opposing Joe McCarthy, congressional staffers now apparently gossip about a smoker behind every tree and office door, while vainly searching for secondhand smoke wafting from under every bed and out of every bar in this great nation. 

We also observe Joe McCarthy's stock-in-trade of threats to people's livelihoods being applied with full force once again. Bar owners who object to smoking bans can find themselves on the liquor license renewal black list as surely as an actor or actress could find their careers terminated fifty years ago if they opposed the McCarthy hate machine. Meanwhile, advocates associated with the American Cancer Society make in clear by their behavior that being a visible opponent of smoking bans can result in a not-so-friendly visit from an anti-tobacco alleged threat monger. Now-stereotypically, the alleged threat monger will appear in the guise of an innocent woman who just wants to help the world by eradicating consumer who make her hair smell by lighting up in her presence.  

CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow fought Joe McCarthy. He won. All Mr. Murrow needed to do was give McCarthy the opportunity to display his well-nourished hate prime time, live. The same thing occurred then as later when the Nixon Watergate tape transcripts were revealed: public revulsion. We observe many political leaders displaying similar opportunistic poppycock behavior about tobacco consumers today, as well as gossip about health threats imposed by bar owners who accommodate them. Needless to say, increasing numbers of voters experience revulsion once again. 

The image on the journalism award that bears Mr. Murrow's name shows him standing at a railing in a news room, cigarette in hand. News organizations and reporters who claim the benefits of that award now crop out the picture of the cigarette, embarrassed by the personal choice of a man they could not hold a candle to. By doing so they at once demean themselves and disparage the rich legacy of the award they covet.  

The ultimate irony-many would say tragedy-is that Mr. Murrow died of lung cancer. The irony is that for all the billions spent on anti-tobacco, plus the billions per year in new tobacco revenues garnered by states and the federal government, since the George H.W. Bush administration's Project ASSIST was launched in 1991 the Current Smoker population in the United States has declined less than one percent (1%). Assume everything that tobacco control says about tobacco use is true. Where do we come out in terms of public health? A stable Current Smoker population and increasing health care costs equal increasing medical treatment expenses funded by nonsmoker taxes.  

The tragedy concerning Mr. Murrow is that neither anti-tobacco activists nor their pharmaceutical nicotine sponsors nor their political supporters can get what they want-ever escalating revenues from "Target" smokers-if they were to achieve the results they promote, material and sustaining reductions in tobacco use. If there were no more smokers who would be the source consumer base for Nicotine Replacement Therapy smoking cessation products?  

Tobacco control is therefore the cruelest hoax of all on smokers, nonsmokers, taxpayers, consumers and small business owners. We observe political leadership pushing that hoax with equal vigor, while displaying the same refusal to acknowledge contradictions as Joe McCarthy.  Politicians appear to display a more polished deaf ear to tobacco issues than George W. Bush ever dreamed of about Weapons of Mass Destruction. And, like George W., for the time being they are pulling it off.  But current news confirms more clearly each day that every political dog eventually succumbs to bites from the special-interest fleas they accumulate. There's hope in that. 

What a disheartening embarrassment we observe at the dawn of our new millennium: political leaders and some staffers mimicking Tricky Dick's sixty-year-old pink sheets with their own "Gray List" of smokers, while aggressively implementing George H.W. Bush's anti-tobacco-but definitely not anti-nicotine-crusade against their own constituents. And mainstream press aids in the cause by adding to the McCarthyesque list of threat incidents to did not occur and do not exist as represented.   

Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt 

I suspect that FDR is chuckling, while lighting up, at the foolishness of American politics today. FDR took us out of a depression, ended prohibition (which he referred to as "a damnable affliction,") and won a world war-all while enjoying his smokes. Many "Smoke Free" politicians in 2007 helped bring us into a losing war with their acquiescence and congressional votes in 2003. Today, "Smoke Free" politicians will lead us into a depression through fatally-flawed fiscal tax policy concerning their "Target Groups" of choice, persons who smoke or are overweight.  

Closing Thoughts 

No, Ms. Simpkins, Ms. Sabetta, and Ms. Manrique, there really isn't a smoker behind every tree or secondhand smoke wafting from beneath every bed. Nor is there an insidious plot by smokers to make the hair of every Pristine Clean nonsmoker smell like an ashtray. There's merely about 46.5 million normal folks out there who choose to lawfully consume legal tobacco products and thousands of small business neighborhood bars, taverns and restaurants that make an honest profit by accommodating them too. And guess what, ladies? Yup, you finally got it: enjoying a smoke with a drink is just as law abiding and normal for adults as occasionally having a beer with one's pizza.  

Those consumers, small businesses that accommodate them, and increasing numbers of state legislators would sincerely appreciate it if you and the pharmaceutical special-interests who fund your paychecks would kindly butt out. 

Norman E. Kjono


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