Opposition To Smoking Bans Heats Up

By Norman E. Kjono, February 19, 2007

Two Weeks ago I reported about opposition to smoking bans that is beginning to assert itself across the USA in Some Legislators Get It About Smoking Ban's Negative Impact. Since that publication new events have developed and many folks have made their views known. All of the information indicates that the intrusion of  smoking bans into the daily lives of consumers and small business owners is meeting increased resistance. In this commentary I discuss many of those activities and provide first-hand information about the views of many involved. Given the acceleration of opposition to the bans it seems worthwhile to post an update about what is going on in several states.  

Radio Listener Background Information About ETS

When this work is posted on Tuesday February 20, 2007 I will be appearing on the Chuck Baker Show, KKKK 1580 AM, Colorado Springs. The subject will be smoking ban opposition by the Coalition for Equal Rights in Colorado. The below references concerning Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) are provided for easy access by listeners on that show. The links may also prove to be useful to Forces readers.

1. Summary of 16 Important Points About Environmental Tobacco Smoke provides an overview, links to publications, and excerpts from many important documents about ETS. For those interested in exploring that subject through additional text a link is provided to a larger work published on the subject. The sources cited in this work include our federal courts, the U.S. Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Journal of the National Cancer Institute, U.S. Department of transportation, and several studies about ETS (including a study of 17 Australian hospitality establishments.) 

2. Opposing voices within the tobacco control advocacy group concerning claims about ETS are also important. Two important views are presented below: 

a.) See "Environmental Tobacco Smoke and Tobacco Related Mortality in a Prospective Study of Californians, 1960-98," by Enstrom and Kabat, as published in 2003 (BMJ  2003;326:1057):
 

"Conclusions The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect. The association between exposure to environmental tobacco smoke and coronary heart disease and lung cancer may be considerably weaker than generally believed." (Underline added.)  

Even those in the tobacco control movement do not agree with many of the extremist conclusions about the allegedly deadly health risks of tobacco smoke. 

b.) See "JAMA Article Brings Surgeon General's Misrepresentation of Secondhand Smoke Science to the Forefront"  by Dr. Michael Siegel:

 

"An article in the current issue of JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), reporting on the recent Surgeon General's review of the health effects of secondhand smoke, brings to the forefront the controversy over whether the Surgeon General misrepresented the science in his public communications surrounding the report's release (see: Kuehn BM. Report reviews secondhand smoke risks: some scientists question risk level. JAMA 2006; 296:922-923). The controversy stems from the press release and other ancillary materials released by the Surgeon General to accompany the report itself."  

It becomes apparent that those who rely on the recent U.S. Surgeon General's report to support smoking bans face a daunting task when it comes to proving up credible evidence for such punitive measures.  

Which brings us to a troubling question. If our federal courts have eviscerated the December 1992 EPA report on secondhand smoke, OSHA has rejected the material risk claims in that report and refused to promulgate a nationwide workplace smoking ban, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI) has published studies that conclude as-yet-unidentified carcinogens other than tobacco smoke play a significant role in lung cancer among non smokers, some tobacco control researchers have concluded the risks of ETS are weaker than generally believed, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published a report about extreme controversy concerning the recent U.S. Surgeon General's report, and a doctor who is part of the tobacco control group disputes many of those activists' claims, who in their right mind would dare mandate new smoking bans? 

Well, it appears there are many legislators who are so committed to "a mandate for thee but note for me" that they continue to sponsor and support smoking bans, despite the enormous body of contradicting information currently accumulating. Which is what brings to the fore some current news. 

Recent News Overview 

From Rocky Mountain News, February 13, 2007, "Panel Nixes Bill to Exempt Taverns from Smoking Ban,"  by April M. Washington: 

But in the Senate, a bid to lift the state smoking ban in taverns was killed, despite three hours of emotional testimony from more than 30 bar owners, many of whom cried foul over the vote to exempt nursing homes. 'I don't understand the logic of all of this,' said Bruce McCaughey, owner of Oasis Lounge in Littleton. He and others blasted lawmakers for 'cherry-picking' who would be subject to the smoking ban and contended neighborhood taverns should be treated the same as casinos, which already are exempt, and now possibly nursing homes. The measure introduced by Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, would have given watering holes the option of paying an extra $500 for a special liquor license to allow for smoking. Tochtrop decried the snuffing of her bill, saying the issue is one of fairness and basic economics. 'The Indoor Clean Air Act has not decreased smoking,' she said. 'It's just putting people out of business.' Opponents, however, argued that the controversial measure would create a gaping loophole in the act that went into effect July 1 banning smoking in most workplaces, restaurants, bars, bingo halls and private clubs. The ban exempts casinos, cigar bars and smoking lounges at Denver International Airport." (Underline added.)  

From the Hawaii Reporter, January 30, 2007, "Bill Reverses Hawaii's Smoking Ban In Bars, Nightclubs and Restaurants,"     by Rep. Colleen Meyer (R-Kaaawa)"  

"Honolulu - I drafted and introduced Bill H.B. No. 792 in the Hawaii State House of Representatives to exempt bars, nightclubs, and restaurants from the complete ban on smoking, provided that exterior signage adequately warns the public that smoking is allowed within. I'm very concerned with the calls my office is receiving about the loss of revenue that small business owners are experiencing across the state since the statewide smoking ban went into affect in November. Many long time business establishments have closed in other states due to the passage of smoking ban legislation and hundreds of others are limping along with revenues 30 to 50 percent of what they were before the ban. This is really a piece of common sense legislation that would allow a choice for both business owners and their patrons. I was joined by Representatives Rida Cabanilla, Karen Awana, Tom Brower, Cindy Evans and Gene Ward in the signing of this bill. . . . A U.S. Supreme court decision during the early 1970's ((Lloyd Corp v. Tanner, 407 U.S. 551 (1992)) said a place of business does not become public property because the public is invited in. So, by that same reasoning. A restaurant or bar is not public property. We need to support small business and stop regulating them out of business." 

 

From North Dakota's KYFR News, February 8, 2007, "Senate Defeats Smoking Ban," by Bradi Powell:

 

But today the state Senate defeated a bill to ban smoking in bars and truck stops, 30-15. Opponents of the smoking ban said it`s a person`s choice whether or not to go into a bar. Supporters say it`s a reasonable intrusion into private business. "I think this situation clearly a public health issue involved here that warrants that kind of common sense and reasonable intrusion," says Senator Thomas Fiebiger of Fargo. "And for that reason I am in support of this bill. I think that our North Dakota workers should not have to choose between their job and their health." (Underline added.)  

Washington has one of the strictest smoking bans in the nation, since tobacco control passed I-901 in November 2005. That ban is increasingly under challenge. See TriCityHerald.com, "Tavern to Fight Ban on Smoking,"  by John Trumbo: 

"If and when the smoke clears at the Longbranch Bar and Grill in Finley, the state's nonsmoking law will have been put to the test and tavern owner Shirley Britton will have had the day in court she says she wants. Benton County has filed a civil complaint in Superior Court. Deputy Prosecutor Kathleen Fitzgerald alleges Britton and her employees have allowed patrons to smoke in the bar despite a year-old state law -- the Washington Clean Indoor Air Act -- prohibiting smoking inside any establishment that serves alcoholic beverages. 'I've retained an attorney (because) I believe it is a bad law and unconstitutional law,' Britton said Friday during a phone interview from the Longbranch." 

From South Dakota's Nashua Telegraph, February 3, 2007, "City Club Says Smoking Ban Could Cause a Culture Clash"  by Patrick Meighan: 

"Two things at the 603 Lounge cause patrons to raise their eyebrows. . . . The second reason why patrons often do a double take is a little more understandable. That reason has to do with a bulbous, water-filled glass pipe with a hose and a mouthpiece attached at the end. Or, two mouthpieces for a double, four for one that can be used by a party. Often, the response goes something like, "Huh, is that legal?" It is, because these water pipes, or hookahs, are used for smoking flavored tobacco. . . . "Even people who don't smoke try it, and they like it," Akeeli said. . . . Hookahs aren't like cigarettes. They don't create a smoke-filled room. The natural tobacco comes in such flavors as apple, molasses, vanilla and pineapple. . . . But at least with hookahs the tobacco isn't laced with chemicals, Akeeli said. . . .  For that reason, he and his co-owners think a cultural exception for hookahs should be made if the state legislature passes a law that bans smoking in bars." (Underline added.)  

Above news article present one of the most compelling facts about opposition to smoking bans: those fighting the bans are not only on their own but they are also an integral part of a rapidly-expanding nationwide effort. That opposition is not by Big Tobacco, it comes from those who are the heart and soul of what makes America great-individual small business people, everyday citizens, and small groups that understand the very real threat to our way of that tobacco control represents.  

Views on the Street 

Let's take a brief snapshot tour across just three states and pay attention to what people have to say.   

1. From Colorado: We begin in Colorado, since that is where the radio talk show action will be tomorrow.    

a.) Allen Campbell, Coalition for Equal Rights:   

"From the statistics we have gathered from Bars, Pubs and Taverns across Colorado it is clear that business losses are averaging over 30%. This information was testified to at the Senate hearing of our bill, SB103, by over 35 owners, not including the support businesses, Disabled Americans, a casino, a city council woman, the many people who lost their jobs, the VFW and others.

 

 The Legislators showed all of these people who came to the hearing from all over the state little, if any, respect for there testimony and flatly ignored the disastrous effects they have suffered due to the smoking ban which was written, passed and signed by a lame duck governor in a three day blitz over one weekend and, in that process, they also ignored the people of Colorado who voted against such a ban not once, but twice." 

b.) Don Smith, Vice Commander Colorado VFW: 

"The VFW along with the American Legion and the DAV are angry and incensed, to say the least, with the Colorado State Legislature that denied respect for the armed forces of the United States of America, who we represent. We have fought and died for the freedom they take for granted and they reward us by denying that same freedom to us. The smoking ban has made a mockery of  nearly all we stand for, it has taken away our ability to support many of the public funding programs we took pleasure in: giving financial help to the communities we work and live in, buying American flags for all the schools in the state, educational grants, among many other things. Many of our posts have had to shut their doors, including the oldest post in the state. This is a travesty and an insult we shall not forget." 

 

2. From Oregon, John Hill, Portland: 

"Anti-smoking laws today are targeted toward employees of establishments where smoking typically takes place. The idea is that we must protect non-smoking employees and non-smoking patrons from the second hand smoke effects. Basically, we are asking our government to step in and protect us from choices other folks make regarding their health; because after all, this choice now affects us. Again, I don't really have a problem with this idea in principle.

 

The problem I have is that we force business owners to conform to these laws and avoid exercising our basic rights as Americans; the right to choose. Patrons and employees have a choice of where they go to work and where they decide to play. Last I looked there was no shortage of jobs in the hospitality industry and certainly no shortage of businesses where smoking is not allowed via the choice of the business owner. The initial reaction from many business owners when anti-smoking bills are proposed is that it will directly affect their revenue because their revenue is based largely on a specific marketing segment; tobacco users. Anti-smoking bills place many business owners at risk by implementing a law that allows us as US Citizens to avoid making choices." 

3. From Washington, Richard Deditius, Fleet Reserve Association in Everett: 

"As I said earlier, it is an absolute shame that senior citizens and/or their spouses who served in the United States military, no longer come in to their PRIVATE service clubs to relax and fellowship, because they can't smoke! 

 

Since observing the smoking ban, the Fleet Reserve Association Club 170 in Everett, WA is down $60,000 from where it would have been at this time, had it been able to sustain it's average income level prior to the ban.

 

Also, Initiative 901 was passed saying it would not cost the taxpayers any money to enforce.  Who makes up the lost tax revenue to the State due to business being way down, or just businesses closing because of the ban?  Adding to that, who paid the wages of the 3 'tobacco police' agents that came to our club on Tuesday evening after 5:00PM?" 

Readers with an interest in Mr. Deditius' Declaration for a recent case challenging the Washington smoking ban should see "American Legion  Declaration."  

Closing Thoughts 

This is just the beginning. What tobacco control and its Big Pharmaceutical sponsors believe they have all sewed up and in the bag is already beginning to quickly unravel.  As word of growing opposition spreads I suspect that tobacco control will be in for the fight of its life in 2007 to merely breakeven on holding the roll back of bans. Some would say that tobacco control is in for the fight of life period. 

Amen, and pass the ammunition! 

Norman E. Kjono


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