Opposition To Smoking Bans Heats Up II

By Norman E. Kjono, February 20, 2007

As projected yesterday in Opposition to Smoking Bans Heats Up, I appeared on the Chuck Baker show (ABC 1580 AM) in Colorado Springs, Colorado. I would like to thank Mr. Baker for the opportunity to present consumer advocacy viewpoints regarding the lawful purchase and consumption of legal tobacco products, particularly as it relates to smoking bans for hospitality venues.  

Allen Campbell, with the Coalition for Equal Rights (CER) in Colorado, was a guest on the show with me. His contributions to setting the local framework and context for hospitality smoking bans was valuable. It is important that the public understand this contentious issue form the viewpoint of those on-the-ground attempting to manage their small businesses despite increasing special-interest and government intrusion into their daily affairs.  

Don Smith, Vice Commander for the Colorado VFW was unable to be on the show as scheduled due to illness however his statement, as read by Mr. Campbell, provided valuable insight on the issues of smoking bans from the perspective of private clubs and veterans. 

Coincidently, over the past few days I have observed an exchange of E-Mails between Mike Rounds and members of the Coalition for equal rights. Mr. Rounds is of the opinion that, since he is offended by and detests tobacco products, smoking should be banned everywhere other than in one's home or car.  

I responded to Mr. Rounds this morning. A copy of my initial E-Mail to him appears below the text for this commentary.  I addressed the matter of rights, pointed out notable mercantile special-interests behind smoking bans, addressed a U.S. Supreme Court decision reported today, and provided context for him of written tobacco control policy to "decrease public tolerance" for persons who smoke.  

Mr. Round's reply to me this afternoon is interesting. His reference to Mr. Valdez is in response to me mentioning that his view that the U.S. Constitution does not grant an express right to smoke is shared by Seattle tobacco czar Roger Valdez. The full text of his response to me is as appears below:

-----Original Message-----
From: MIKE ROUNDS [mailto:roundsmj@msn.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2007 2:17 PM
To: normkarl@earthlink.net
Subject: RE: Smoking: "Congratulations" (To be referenced in talk show appearance) 

Three cheers for Roger Valdez!  He makes an excellent point concerning Constitutional rights.  Enough with the "right to smoke" diatribe, and please stop with the detriment to small business dribble.  It's really  getting old.  Here's the proverbial bottom line.  Exposure to second-hand  tobacco smoke is unhealthy.  I don't think any rational mind would refute that statement.  Health and safety of their constituents is a primary concern of our elected officials, and the Colorado Clean Indoor Air Act of 2006 was a compromised attempt to protect us from the health dangers of second-hand smoke.  Although it exempted a few types of businesses, it was a good start.  Now it appears our state legislature is going back to clean up the odds-and-ends.  Good for them!  Look, no one disagrees that you should have the freedom of choice to smoke.  By all means, "smoke up Johnny!"  Just be sure not to do it around me or anyone else who is equally offended by  tobacco smoke. 

I thank Mr. Rounds for his public service. He has-perhaps inadvertently-defined the true nature of smoking bans: Mr. Rounds hates smoking, therefore smoking should be banned in every hospitality venue across the state. Bar and tavern owners believe that their choice to accommodate patrons who smoke, and their customer's  choice to do so as an integral part of their hospitality experience, should be respected.  

Underlying those polarized views is a simple fact: every bar, tavern, restaurant or other hospitality small business owner in the State of Colorado had the right and authority to prohibit smoking on their business premises before the Colorado smoking ban was enacted. It's called a free and open competitive market. Accordingly, at even first blush Mr. Rounds' strident comments fail to stand before logic and reason. The question is not business owner's choice to prohibit smoking, they already had that choice before the smoking ban about which Mr. Rounds preens. The central question here is why should any hospitality business owner be deprived of their right to make a choice about accommodating patrons who smoke to facilitate Mr. Rounds' transparent hatred of tobacco products and those who lawfully consume them? In short, how does some peoples' choice to hate become all hospitality small business owners' legal mandate?  

Tobacco control advocates' response to the above question is because Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) kills.  Those who listened to the Chuck Baker show today understand that is not the case. Readers who have an interest in facts about ETS are invited to read Opposition to Smoking Bans Heats Up, which contains links to extensive information on that subject.  

When we eliminate bona fide material risk from Environmental Tobacco Smoke as a credible subject for discussion-as credible science aptly does-discussion about smoking bans takes on a different character. The discussion becomes debate concerning justification for extending hate to regulatory authority. 

I respectfully submit that Mr. Rounds is entitled to think anything he chooses about anyone. There just is no constitutional authority whatsoever for him to extend his bigoted beliefs to a legal mandate that hospitality small business owners must also hate, ban, shun, and ostracize those who put a large portion of bar, tavern and restaurant revenues in the till-patrons who lawfully consume legal tobacco products.  

In a sane world Mr. Rounds could express his alarm about ETS and his hatred of smoking by refusing to walk in the door of any business that allows smoking on its premises. Then again, the insanity of mob rule through popularity contests over personal preference is what smoking bans are truly about, isn't it?.  

Norman E. Kjono 

-      Initial E-Mail to Mike Rounds From Norman E. Kjono - 

-----Original Message-----
From: Norm Kjono [mailto:normkarl@earthlink.net]
Sent: Tuesday, February 20, 2007 11:45 AM
To: 'roundsmj@msn.com'
 Subject: Smoking: "Congratulations" (To be referenced in talk show appearance) 

Mr. Rounds, 

I have followed your E-Mail exchanges with Lisa Fender with the Coalition for Equal Rights. I write with understanding of the risk that I may be engaging in futile attempts to communicate with one who is sufficiently Agenda-Afflicted as to be devoid of meaningful ethical standards.  

In your original E-Mail to Ms. Fender you said: 

"I believe smoking should be illegal everywhere except a person's domicile or automobile.  We'll get there soon I'm sure." 

Well, that's mighty white of you, Mr. Rounds. Persons who lawfully consume legal tobacco products deeply appreciate that you deign to permit them to smoke in their domicile or automobile. Unfortunately, as this is written proposed statutes advanced by your fellow smoke-haters that would prohibit smoking in cars. As noted below, tobacco control advocates in Seattle believe folks do not have a right to smoke in their home. Indeed, the current Bush administration's Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is imposing and enforcing "Smoke Free" leases on low-income elderly residents today. Since you would permit smoking in residences and automobiles, perhaps we should revere you as a "kind Massa." We'll discuss that further below.  

I found the first paragraph of your response to Ms. Fender enlightening: 

"First off, I am NOT an idiot!  I am a well-educated individual who absolutely detests tobacco products of any kind.  Smoking or chewing tobacco is filthy and disgusting.  If you think I haven't done my homework, you are wrong." 

I also read with interest your comment about rights that you presented in response to Ms Fender's observations: 

"You are absolutely incorrect when you mention that everyone has a right to smoke.  You're going to have to show me where in the Constitution it states that you have this right.  I'm guessing what you meant to say is that smokers have the freedom of choice to smoke.  That, I agree with. You just don't have the freedom of choice to share your filthy smoke with everyone else." (Underline added.)  

Your comment about rights echoes that of Seattle-King County Department of Public Health's tobacco "czar" Roger Valdez. From the Seattle Weekly in its January 18, 2006 article "Big Nanny is Watching you," by Phil Dawdy:

 

"'Americans think they have a lot of rights they really don't have. Smoking is one of those things where people think they have the right to smoke, but you don't.' He used 'you' in the plural. 'You have no right to smoke. It's an addiction. It's something you should see a doctor about.' He went on to tell me that people have no right to smoke even in their private residences. 'The condo association can ban it, and you have no legal recourse,' Valdez said."   

It apparently does not occur to you or Mr. Valdez that no one has any duty whatsoever to "prove" anything to either of you to be entitled to the value of constitutional rights of equal protection of the law or prohibitions against special-privileges and immunities. By what standard do you presume to mandate special privileges for yourself in all hospitality establishments across the state? 

1. I am mildly curious about your views on the subject of rights. Where does it say in the Constitution of the United States that: 

a.) Individual citizens have a constitutional right to impose their personal preference regarding legal products on all other residents of their state. 

b.) Grant-funded special-interest advocacy groups have a right to impose regulations on "Target" citizens and small business that give their financial sponsors' "Smoke Free" nicotine products an artificial competitive mercantile advantage. 

c.) Hospitality small business owners, who have invested their capital in a tax-paying establishment that helps support the state, have an affirmative duty to countenance your personal-preference intrusion into their right to participate in a lawful trade. 

d.) Hospitality employees, who are dependent on salaries and tips for their livelihood, have an affirmative duty to put up with your personal-preference that jeopardizes their livelihoods, when you could simply choose to not walk I the door where they work. 

e.) You have a right to use a cell phone, eat cheese burgers, drive a car, or to wear green pants. 

It has been my experience that those who presume to mandate other's rights based on personal preference also claim the greater lion's share of rights for themselves. I have also observed that the greater rights for such mandate muggers is always and predictably enforced at the intended expense of those who are the "Target" of the muggers' personal preference. Which, of course, boils down to "I choose to hate you, so you get less and I get more." The appropriate response to such regressive thinking was eloquently stated by Eric Hoffer: 

"The remarkable thing is that we really love our neighbor as ourselves: we do unto others as we do unto ourselves. We hate others when we hate ourselves. We are tolerant toward others when we tolerate ourselves. We forgive others when we forgive ourselves. We are prone to sacrifice others when we are ready to sacrifice ourselves." (Underline added) 

Mr. Rounds, it appears to me that you are quite willing to sacrifice yourself to the tyranny of the majority by turning over your constitutional rights to rule of the mob. Normal folks would very much appreciate it, however, if in your zeal to do so you would be kind enough to let them be in peace, to lawfully go about their legal daily business and lives while you self-immolate.  

As to those who choose to wet their collective pants in fear that someone, somewhere may be lighting up a cigarette in a bar that THEY may one day choose to patronize, Bertrand Russell provided a cogent observation: 

"Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd." 

Few other than you among the herd of tobacco control Agenda-Afflicted have displayed such ferocity of hate against those who violate their personal preference by lawfully consuming legal tobacco products. It appears to me that you operate in distinctively rarified air, indeed. Perhaps one day you will come down to an altitude of tolerance where there is sufficient oxygen to facilitate clean thinking.  

2. I write in context of a U.S. Supreme Court decision reported today. See MSNBC News, February 20, 2007 "Supreme Court Throws Out Philip Morris Verdict,"   

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court threw out a $79.5 million punitive damages award to a smoker's widow Tuesday, a boon to businesses seeking stricter limits on big-dollar jury verdicts. The 5-4 ruling was a victory for Altria Group Inc.'s Philip Morris USA, which contested an Oregon Supreme Court decision upholding the verdict. In the majority opinion written by Justice Stephen Breyer, the court said the verdict could not stand because the jury in the case was not instructed that it could punish Philip Morris only for the harm done to the plaintiff, not to other smokers whose cases were not before it. States must "provide assurances that juries are not asking the wrong question ... seeking, not simply to determine reprehensibility, but also to punish for harm caused strangers," Breyer said." (Underline added.)

 

I believe that we could agree the U.S. Supreme court is an authoritative source on Constitutional issues. The salient point to me in the above-referenced case is that causes of action and economic damages do not apply to those who are beyond the scope of parties involved in the actions complained of. You have every opportunity to eliminate damages to yourself allegedly caused by a person smoking in a bar: exercise your right to choose to not walk in the door. Consequently, I believe that you lack proper standing to complain about the lawful conduct of those who choose to enjoy the convivial environment of a hospitality establishment that allows its patrons to smoke as an integral part of their hospitality experience.

3. I also write in context of written and well-established tobacco control policy, as published April 1993 in "Planning for a Tobacco-Free Washington" under federal contract for the George H.W. Bush Administration's Project ASSIST (see TFW22.PDF).

Principles: To "Target" specific populations.

Strategy: ". . . the most effective way to reduce smoking rates is to decrease public tolerance of tobacco use."

Policy: "Changing public acceptance of tobacco use will require policy change, a critical ingredient of societal change." Its policies include:     

Increasing the price of tobacco products.
Increasing the number of smoke-free environments.

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

The above brings us back to further addressing the "kind Massa's" of tobacco control. They come in two varieties:

 

Kind Massa's No. 1: These are folks who believe that their choice to hate equals a reduction of other's rights. The folks who believed that about racial minorities were educated with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Those who believe such thinking applied to political beliefs had their political head handed to them in a bucket by Edward R. Murrow, when he soundly repudiated Joe McCarthy. Is suspect that another educational exercise in similar thinking about legal product personal preferences is already in progress.

 

Why should any hospitality business owner be required to accept interference in conduct of their lawful business to accommodate your choice to hate some of their patrons?

 

Kind Massa's No. 2: Included in this group are private advocacy groups such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. According to Yahoo Finance the foundation is among the top five institutional shareholders of NicoDerm CQ manufacturer Johnson & Johnson. The foundation reports that since 1992 it has awarded a total of $446 million in grants of $1 million or more to tobacco control advocates. Increasing the price of tobacco products also provides the opportunity to increase the price charged for Nicotine Replacement Therapy products such as Nicorette gum, NicoDerm CQ patches and Commit lozenges. Increasing the number of smoke-free environments imposes a coerced consumer choice of tobacco control financial sponsors' "Smoke Free" nicotine delivery device products.

 

Why should any hospitality business owner be required to put up with undue influence about how they manage their lawful business so the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation can realize a profit on its stock holdings in "Smoke Free" nicotine distributor Johnson & Johnson?

 

When you provide rational answers the above two questions, Mr. Rounds, those who stand to duty to protect their legitimate rights-and thereby protect your rights, too-may be inclined to discuss the matter further with you.

 

Best Always,

 

Norman E. Kjono


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