Opposition To Smoking Bans Heats Up VII
By Norman E. Kjono, March 1, 2007
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.)
On March 6, 2007 Deborah Kistner from Ohio appeared on the Chuck Baker radio talk show in Colorado Springs, Colorado along with Norman Kjono from Forces and Allen Campbell with the Equal Rights Coalition in Colorado. MP3 Links for that show are now available:
If you want to voice your appreciation to Radio Colorado Network and to Mr. Chuck Baker for airing a show on the issue of smoking bans and tobacco prohibition write to Ron Nickell - firstname.lastname@example.org, Senior VP General Manager of the Radio Colorado Network
Through such efforts people across the land who have legitimate objections to smoking bans are now able to have their voices heard, too. America's opposition voice will be increasingly heard as Forces' multi-median project is completed. The days of unfettered special-interest promotion of self-serving, mercantile smoking bans are over. Those adversely affected now have a voice in this important public policy debate.
March 4, 2007, "Smoking Ban Citations Not Enough To Deter Bar Owners," by Pam Zubeck:
"Although there were no ashtrays in sight, a man at the bar was smoking - a signal that two citations for violating the statewide smoking ban, which were issued 19 hours earlier, failed to extinguish the bar's resistance to the ban. "We will stand together with the other bar owners in this protest," Jeff Eickman, co-owner of D.J.'s Bar and Grill at 1100 E. Fillmore St., said Saturday night. Colorado Springs police showed up about 11 p.m. Friday after someone reported "everyone was smoking in the bar," a police report said. Once there, officers found evidence it was true. "There were ashtrays out with cigarettes in them," Colorado Springs police Sgt. David Edmondson said. But officers saw only one person smoking and cited bar patron Ralph Chapman. They also cited Eickman. Each could face $200 fines."
Standing against such power and influence, brave souls in Colorado and Ohio begin to voice their objections. In most cases they had no idea what they were up against. Now directly engaged in the fight, they stand to duty. It's the right stuff of which America is made. Such commitment is also what inspires hope that one day soon we the people will free ourselves from the grasp of self-serving special-interests that members of Congress and many state legislators have allowed to ensnare us.
The story of those who stand to duty against encroaching merger of state and corporate interests to protect their legitimate personal and business affairs needs to be told. This story must be told to send a message to the halls of Congress and state legislators that not only do we the people understand what is occurring but that also we will not stand for it. As will be discussed below, we need to send that message to preserve the legitimate rights of small business owners, taxpayers and consumers. We begin by making a few now-transparent connections.
Connecting the First Set of Dots
In early 2005 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grantees launched yet another campaign for a statewide smoking ban. The Washington campaign for Initiative 901 was managed by Healthy Indoor Air for All Washington. The American Cancer Society was the primary source of support for that ballot measure. $1.6 million in funding was placed behind I-901, 80 percent of which came from the top donors with vested professional and economic interests in the smoking ban passing. See I901Cont.PDF for a summary of contributions. That list of donations to I-901 includes a $10,562 in-kind donation of the Democrat mailing list to get out the vote.
Let's first take a look at what was reported in the press about I-901 before the November 2005 election. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, October 14, 2005, "Smoking Ban Expected to Pass Easily," by Angela Galloway:
A proposal to ban smoking in public -- including some outdoor areas -- could significantly affect the customers and owners of any restaurant, bar, club, non-tribal casino or bowling alley in the state. Yet just weeks before voters will decide Initiative 901, the measure has drawn relatively little public interest and virtually no serious opposition. . . . Sponsored largely by the American Cancer Society, I-901 would prohibit smoking in any public area or place of employment. Casinos, bars and other businesses on Indian lands would be exempt because federally recognized tribes are sovereign governments. Opponents of the initiative say private business owners and consumers should be allowed to make their own decisions. . . . But the initiative's sponsors point to widely accepted opinion polls that show the majority of Americans support smoking bans. . . . I-901 backers acknowledge that restrictions would require flexibility to enforce; there are blocks in Belltown, Capitol Hill and Queen Anne where it's hard to find any piece of sidewalk 25 feet from a doorway. . . . Health officials would be authorized to levy fines or licensing restrictions to businesses that fail to comply. Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies would be charged with enforcing the ban against individuals and could fine scofflaw smokers $100. "We're not going to get into our public health cars with chalk and tape measures and go to every bar and town," said Roger Valdez, manager of the Tobacco Prevention Program for Public Health -- Seattle & King County. "We don't have the resources or desire." Proponents of I-901 have raised nearly $1 million, more than half of that directly from the American Cancer Society, according to campaign reports filed with the state. That's more than 200 times the size of the opponents' budget. . . . Although it has fought previous proposals to ban smoking altogether, the Washington Restaurant Association is neutral on I-901, said Gene Vosberg, president of the industry group. While it saw "problems" with the measure, it decided not to help fund an opposition effort in part because I-901 sponsors assured the group that restaurateurs will not be responsible for monitoring compliance outside their businesses, Vosberg said. . . . Valdez insisted his agency wouldn't turn into the smoking police. The statute would likely be enforced only during routine inspections and in response to consumer complaints, he said. . . . In apparent protest, a handful of businesses repeatedly violated Pierce County's short-lived smoking ban, according to John Britt, prevention coordinator for the Tacoma/Pierce County Health Department. The department gave out three dozen tickets while that ban was in effect for several months of 2004, before it got tossed out by the courts for attempting to pre-empt the state Clean Indoor Air Act that I-901 seeks to change. But the repeat offenders backed off once they were taken to administrative hearings, where they faced potential restrictions of their businesse (sic) licenses, Britt said. Any would-be protesters in King County should think twice, Valdez said. "There's no constitutional right to smoke. You can't smoke whenever you want -- period," he said. "We don't take positions on initiatives but we definitely believe that the best thing for the public's health is to have a completely smoke-free environment. If a law passes, we're not going to try to make your life miserable. We're going to try to provide you with the resources to do what you know you should do -- which is quit."
The forgoing is a rather lengthy excerpt, however such is necessary to illustrate how mainstream media uses "the news" to garner support for special-interest Social Marketing campaigns and to present the position of tobacco control advocates exclusive of critical thought and substantive opjection. Such use of media to advance Social Marketing agendas was clearly set forth on page 22 of "Planning for a Tobacco Free Washington:"
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."
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."
Tobacco control advocates have been saying to the public for years that increased cigarette taxes and expanded smoking bans were the most effective ways to go to reduce smoking. It turns out they has said in their back-office policy manuals that ". . . the most effective way to reduce smoking rates is to decrease public tolerance of tobacco use." As will be explained below the actual agenda is to bait the public with intolerance of their neighbors and members of their own communities, then switch policy to that which financially rewards GalxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the host of anti-tobacco minions they fund, such as the American Cancer Society.
The above-referenced booklet was published under federal contract for the George H.W. Bush administration's $135 million 1991-1998 American Stop Smoking Intervention Study (Project ASSIST). The American Cancer Society was the nationwide manager for Project ASSIST. As note below from 1992 to 1995 one of the top five institutional shareholders of smoking cessation product manufacturer and distributor Johnson & Johnson, the namesake Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, put three times more cash than the federal government behind Project ASSIST. The American Cancer Society was a principal recipient of such grants under the foundation's SmokeLess States initiative and other programs. The American Cancer Society has been advancing a mercantile, profit-making pharmaceutical agenda in the name of public health for now a decade and a half.
The material point of the above excerpt is that on October 14, 2005 we observe the Seattle Post-Intelligencer busily doing what tobacco control advocacy requires to advance it's agenda: generating "a variety of media messages that will foster and strengthen public support for proposed policy changes." Demonstrating that phenomenon in context of actual news reports and underlying tobacco control policy is of critical importance. As will be seen below, the Columbus Dispatch engaged in similar behavior last week.
Seattle tobacco czar Roger Valdez advertises that statewide smoking bans are a way of providing persons who smoke "with the resources to do what you know you should do -- which is quit." Normal people understand that smoking bans are part and parcel of a pharmaceutical mercantile strategy in the Nicotine Market Share War. But why should taxpayers, consumers, and small business owners be caught in the crossfire created by a private foundation and its namesake pharmaceutical conglomerate seeking to expand revenues and increase their profits? How foisting a "Bait and Switch" campaign that is replete with false representations on voters to do so even remotely justified under any circumstance?
Washington statutes prohibit any state agency from publicly supporting or opposing a ballot measure. Yet there's Mr. Valdez publicly endorsing I-901 while saying the health department doesn't take positions on initiatives. This is a very good illustration of the consistent behavior of tobacco control advocates: they will publicly deny what they are doing as they continue to do it.
Washington voters passed I-901. A month later, on the day the ballot measure became effective, reality presented itself. From Seattle-King County Department of Public Health, December 8, 2005, "Expanded Indoor Smoking Law Effective December 8, 2005," by the Tobacco Prevention Program:
On Tuesday, November 8th, 2005, Washington voters chose clean air and overwhelmingly approved Initiative 901. The initiative amends the 1985 Clean Indoor Air Act and now requires that all work places be 100% smoke free. This means that on December 8th, Washington will join the growing list of smoke free states. What does this mean for you as a resident or business owner? The information below contains answers to some frequently asked questions.
When does the ban take effect?
The ban takes effect on December 8th, 2005.
Where does the ban apply?
Smoking is now prohibited in all public places and all workplaces.
How are "public places" and "workplaces" defined?
"Public place" means any place used by and open to the public, regardless of ownership and regardless of whether a fee is charged for admission.
"Workplace" means any area which employees are required to pass through during the course of employment.
So is smoking banned everywhere, even in bars? What about after midnight or in smoking rooms?
I-901 bans smoking in public places and workplaces including but not limited to: bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, skating rinks, casinos, private clubs, reception areas and a minimum of 75% of rooms in hotels. There are no exceptions. The ban applies everywhere, all the time.
Underlines in the above excerpt were added by me. In fact, implementation of the ban is decidedly different than what voters approved and the above FAQs published by the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health contain false statements.
1. The language of Initiative 901 did not say the smoking ban to be approved by voter applied "everywhere, all the time." In fact, such a representation is patently false because all tribal hospitality venues-casino, bar, restaurant, convenience store, etc. places of employment-are exempt from the smoking ban. Proponents of I-901 objected before the Thurston County superior court to that disclosure being included in the ballot measure. The court ordered that language disclosing the tribal exemption would not be included in the ballot measure description, despite that fact that a superior court judge had ordered the disclosure be included in the description for statewide smoking ban I-890 in 2004. Tobacco control fights in court to suppress meaningful disclosure of facts that could influence voter decisions, then turns around after-the-fact and misrepresents the scope of application as if what they refused to disclose for voter was true.
2. Private clubs were exempt in the definitions included for I-901. Suddenly, the ban applies to private clubs. Kitsap county has undertaken enforcement proceedings against an American Legion post. That legal matter continues as this is written.
3. Residences were exempt in the definitions included for I-901. Suddenly, the ban applies to private residences. In early 2006, the Seattle-King County Department of Public Health began an aggressive campaign to ban smoking in apartments and condominiums.
4. Out door places more than 25 feet away from doors and ventilation intakes were to be exempt. But the Seattle-King county Department of Public Health unilaterally applied the I-901 ban to all outdoor bus shelters, regardless of their proximity to doorways and ventilation intakes. The Seattle Port Authority has places red "No smoking" strips on walls outside the baggage area that in some cases far exceed the 25 foot rule.
5. My layman's view is that I-901 materially redefines the rights of property owners in a way that defies previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The material change in property owner's rights was not disclosed by proponents of I-901 before the public vote, yet the above FAQ's explicitly states the ban applies to public places "regardless of ownership." 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." (Underline added.)
Would voters have approved I-901 in November 2005 if the above facts and pattern of conduct were known to them at the time they marked their ballot?
Issues regarding smoking bans are not simply about people lawfully consuming legal tobacco products. Mr. Valdez' claim that "There's no constitutional right to smoke" is at the core of these contentious issues. Mr. Valdez expediently, and falsely, presumes that this nation operates under Napoleonic law, where that which is not specifically authorized is prohibited. Fortunately, the United States Constitution is based on English law, where that which is not expressly prohibited is permitted. So, beyond ignoring supreme court decisions about property owners rights, Seattle tobacco "Czar" Roger Valdez also unilaterally decrees a change in the basis for U.S. constitutional law. Such sweeping powers are routinely presumed by little Napoleons who revel in grandiose titles.
What is at stake in this fight is nothing short of the fundamental legal basis by which we govern ourselves as a people. If should be transparent that is a tobacco czar can decree both the legal basis for our laws and the scope of application of ballot measures after the fact of passing them, then it becomes Katy bar the door for ever-expanding applications of that approach. It is transparent that if Mr. Valdez can decree that citizens have no constitutional right to lawfully consume legal tobacco products in the name of anti-tobacco then no citizen has a right to drink alcohol in the name of anti-alcohol and no citizen has a right to eat cheese burgers or drink a milkshake in the name of anti-obesity, either. We are left with the rights of citizens, consumers, taxpayers, property owners and small business proprietors being subject to unilateral interpretation by anti-tobacco czars, anti-alcohol potentates, anti-obesity fuehrers, and a host of other self-anointed, special-interest gazhorniplats.
The first set of dots we must connect is the pattern of conduct. In the case of anti-tobacco, that is best defined as "Bait and Switch," and to deny what one is up to while that is being done. That "Bait and Switch" is clearly illustrated by the numerous changes to and expansions of I-901 in Washington. That patter of conduct is also observed in Ohio were private clubs were lead to believe that they would be exempt from statewide smoking ban Issue 5. As now-predictable, private clubs such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars face the economic consequences of smoking bans, too. In Colorado, casinos were exempt from the statewide smoking ban passed by the legislature. During the current session legislative bills are advancing to remove that exemption.
Meanwhile, legislative bills are being introduced in some states to exempt cigar bars from smoking bans. It appears that, by stroke of legislative pen, cigar secondhand smoke is curiously "safe."
The first set of dots connects mainstream media and tobacco control advocates in a web of self-serving, mercantile agendas to manipulatively influence public opinion. Why would folks engage in such behavior? Why would private clubs and residences that were explicitly exempt under ballot measures suddenly find themselves caught in the tobacco control dragnet, but cigar bars that were not exempt in the ballot measures enjoy new exemptions? That leads us to the second set of dots. Those dots paint a money trail that says it's about the bucks and privilege first and above all else, with legitimate public health a far-distant, lesser priority.
Connecting the Second Set of Dots
The money trail is clearly defined. Let's take a look at the facts.
1. NicoDerm CQ Manufacturer ALZA Corp. is owned by Johnson & Johnson (see JNJ-RWJF Summary).
2. Johnson & Johnson acquired Pfizer Consumer Healthcare for $16.6 billion in June 2006. That acquisition included Nicorette gum. See "Johnson & Johnson to Acquire Pfizer Consumer Healthcare"
3. During the 1990s Johnson & Johnson was distributing Nicotrol nicotine delivery device products (see JNJ-RWHF Summary, press releases).
4. GlaxoSmithKline distributes NicoDerm CQ patches and Nicorette gum. See, for example, NicoDerm CQ and Nicorette product box.
5. As of this writing, Yahoo Finance reports that on December 31, 2006 the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation owned 56 million shares of Johnson & Johnson. The current market value of those shares is $3.7 billion.
6. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded $446 million in grants of $1 million or more to tobacco control advocates 1992 to 2005 (See "Taking on Tobacco: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Assault on Smoking," pages 5 and 6). Recent grants identified in RWJ foundation reports (see December 15, 2004, "New Grants Spread Support of Tobacco Policy Changes") include:
American Cancer Society Inc., Ohio Division, Inc.
Tracy Sabetta, (614) 889-9565
Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance
Chris Sherwin, (303) 756-6163
7. The American Cancer Society is a significant and sustaining recipient of gr
nts from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (go to www.rwjf.org and enter search words "American Cancer Society"). The American Cancer Society was also the nationwide manager for the George H.W. Bush Administration's $135 million 1991 to 1998 American Stop Smoking Intervention Study (Project ASSIST). The society is therefore a nationwide paid lobbyist advocate of special-interests. The American Cancer Society is not an objective public health advocate. The society and its representatives in states have clear and indisputable professional and economic vested interests in the policy that it advances. Folks with those vested interests sit on the rules committee to define the mandates that Dr. Grossman would enforce by threat of losing a license to do business.
8. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grants to tobacco control advocacy include those to state and county health departments (see, for example, King County Health NRT Advocacy). See also "SmokeLess States National Policy Initiative," the foundation's discussion for use of $88 million in SmokeLess States grants to state coalitions, which includes the following notations:
"Eight coalitions defeated or blocked preemption bills and four states repealed or partially repealed preemption during the program. The coalitions that defeated preemption bills were in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Ohio and West Virginia. The coalitions that repealed or partially repealed preemption were in Delaware, Louisiana (partial), Nevada (local control was given to school boards), and South Dakota. Illinois repealed preemption after the program ended. For more information, see the "SmokeLess States Policy Focus Newsletter," Vol. 3, Issue 2, online."
"Ohio passed a 31-cent tax increase in June 2002, resulting in a 114 percent increase in tax-generated revenue and a 9 percent decrease in cigarette consumption in the first year alone. Eight communities in the state also passed clean indoor air ordinances."
9. County and state health departments respond by becoming pharmaceutical sales departments for NicoDerm CQ patches, Nicorette gum and other smoking cessation products, even advertising those products such as GlaxoSmithKline's Zyban products by brand name. As evident from Seattle-King County health director Plough's May 1999 letter to me (see King County Health NRT Advocacy above, page 1 left panel) zealous marketing of nicotine replacement products can extend to use by children, even if the drugs are not approved for their use (see King County Health NRT Advocacy above, page 2).
10. State and county health departments that aggressively support smoking ban public law to increase distribution of pharmaceutical Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products directly support and influence the public vote for anti-tobacco ballot measures, in Washington in violation of state law. See, for example, Mr. Valdez' statements in the above Seattle Post-Intelligencer article concerning I-901: "We don't take positions on initiatives but we definitely believe that the best thing for the public's health is to have a completely smoke-free environment." Such public statements are made by state employee public health officials despite the fact that laws in most states prohibit public officials from supporting or opposing a ballot measure. Smoking bans impose a coerced consumer choice of "Smoke Free" nicotine delivery device products on persons who smoke.
11. Tobacco control advocates who receive grants from the Robert Wood Johnson also aggressively promote ever-increasing cigarette taxes (see the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids' January 9, 2007 report "Higher Cigarette Taxes" ). The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids has received $84 million in grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For example, in 2001 foundation grantees sponsored and passed Washington's I-901, which added 60 cents in new state cigarette excise taxes (see I-773). As described in detail in my January 15, 2006 work, California's Proposition 86: A Review of Voting Patterns and Broader Issues, tobacco tax advocacy artificially inflates the price that pharmaceuticals can charge for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) delivery device products such as NicoDerm CQ patches, Nicorette gum, and Commit lozenges. For example, In Washington tobacco taxes increased by $6.00 per carton in 2001 and another $6.00 in 2005. During that period on a per unit basis the cost of Nicorette gum increased $12.06 per box (see Parity Pricing.PDF). [Insert link] It's called "Parity Pricing." As tobacco control advocates are paid by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to advocate new taxes on cigarettes Nicorette and NicoDerm CQ distributor GlaxoSmithKline increases the cost of those products to consumers by like amount. Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSMithKline, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation walk merrily to the bank. Taxpayers, consumers and small business owner are left holding the special-interest bag empty of promises made in their initiatives.
12. The American Cancer Society has also shared in the revenue proceeds created by artificially inflating the cost of Nicotine Replacement Therapy products. See, for example, the notation on a scanned image of the box for Nicorette in Parity Pricing linked in item 11. above: The box caries the ACS logo and the top panel (see Top Panel*) of the box bears the notation, "SmithKline Beecham provides an annual grant to the American Cancer Society for stop smoking education and cancer - related research in return for the use of their seal." Needless to say, by cosmic serendipity American Cancer Society research points to a compelling need for increased distribution of smoking cessation products . . .
For information about the historical involvement of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in each state see the following links:
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, SmokeLess States Project
"Major Accomplishments and Highlights By State"
Should the above links be broken by the Foundation those documents have been archived. Readers will need to use the Zoom button to read table items relevant to their state.
In short, Dr. Grossman sits in a throne as an appointed public health commissioner atop millions in corporate and private and special-interest dollars. Those dollars are expressly dedicated to increasing the price of tobacco products (to increase parity pricing profits) and expanding smoke free environments (to impose a coerced consumer choice of "Smoke Free" nicotine delivery device brands. Dr. Grossman would apply the power of the state to revoke licenses to do business in order to achieve those mercantile objectives.
But by what lawful, proper authority do those such as Dr. Grossman and Ms. Sabetta with the American Cancer Society sit on any rules board or occupy any official public health position? Their transparent financial and economic conflicts of interest should automatically disqualify them from any position that influences tobacco control policy that adversely affects taxpayers, consumers, and small business owners. Would the Governor of Colorado permit a group that has received millions from Philip Morris to sit on such commissions and rules boards? If not, then why does he permit the best friends that Marlboro Man ever had, allegedly anti-tobacco activists to do so (see "Philip Morris & Tobacco Control")?
The Third Set of Dots: Lies in Ohio?
By what means is the tobacco control agenda advanced? An unseemly situation involving the American Cancer Society emerged last week in Ohio that boldly illustrates the agenda is enacted based on the same policy as it embraces: reducing public tolerance for smoking ban opponents, just as it promotes intolerance for consumers.
1. From the Columbus Dispatch, February 28, 2007, "Tempers Flare at Hearing on Ohio's Smoking Ban," by James Nash:
"A last-ditch fight against the state's antismoking law became so heated yesterday that two proponents of the law left a hearing early for their own safety. 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. With just weeks remaining before businesses face penalties for violating Ohio's new statewide smoking ban, dozens of smokers and business owners fought yesterday to throw out all or part of the law. (Underline added.)
2. From the Ohio State Highway Patrol, March 2, 2007, in response inquiry by a person who attended the public hearing:
>> Brett Gockstetter 3/2/2007 9:04 AM >>>
Dear Deborah 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.
Sgt. B.W. Gockstetter
OSHP Public Affairs
3. Confirmation by Deborah Kistner of conversation with Major. Booker with the Ohio State highway Patrol concerning alleged threats at Ohio Department of Health hearing:
From: Deborah Kistner [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2007 7:24 AM
Subject: D o H meeting on Tuesday- Ohio
I just spoke with Major Booker from the State Highway Patrol regarding the threats made against the ACS on Tuesday at the meeting.
His words- there was no threat made to anyone at that meeting. The media was also informed of that and made no attempt to retract their statements.
4. March 4, 2007 Response to Ms. Kistner from Tracy Sabatta with the American Cancer Society:
From: Tracy.Sabetta@cancer.org [mailto:Tracy.Sabetta@cancer.org]
Sent: Sunday, March 04, 2007 6:44 PM
Subject: Re: Issue 5
Thanks for your email. Which station will you be on Tuesday? I'm happy to help in any way I can. I was advised to leave the hearing early because threats had been made against my safety by individuals within audience. So I did just that.
As for the ballot language, it was written by the Ohio Ballot Board, comprised of then Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, two legislators and two other appointed representatives. They wrote the ballot language for all the issues in the last election. Campaigns do not get a vote in the matter.
I hope this is helpful. Please let me know if there is any other information I can provide.
American Cancer Society, Ohio Division
Phone: 1.888.ACS.OHIO (1-888-227-6446) x 8605
5. American Cancer Society spokesperson Wendy Simpkins' statement via E-Mail to James Nash, reporter for the Columbus Dispatch, as provided to me by him on March 4, 2007:
From: James Nash [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Friday, March 02, 2007 5:23 PM
To: Norm Kjono
Subject: RE: Correction of Article by Mr. Nash Concerning False Statements About threats to ACS Staff by Smoking Ban Opponents
Here's the message from Wendy Simpkins received a few minutes ago:
Please check your voice mail. If you need any additional information, please call my cell or Tracy Sabetta's cell. We absolutely stand by our account. Our members left singly so as not to draw attention to their departure. Melinda or Melissa Osgood with the attorney general' s department and a state highway patrol trooper approached Susan and Tracy, said she had overheard threats being made, had informed the :Highway Patrol, and recommended they leave for their safety.
6. March 5, 2007 E-Mail from James Nash at the Columbus Dispatch to Norman E. Kjono:
From: James Nash [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, March 05, 2007 12:33 PM
Cc: Norm Kjono
I did speak with Wendy Simpkins who maintains that there was a threat. I also talked to an assistant attorney general who was there and overheard a man -- she doesn't know his name -- who said an obscenity about Tracy Sabetta and indicated that he wanted to talk to her after the hearing.
The assistant attorney general said she informed law enforcement of this threat and they then informed Tracy Sabetta, who later left the room. The state highway patrol, however, said they had no such conversation with the assistant attorney general.
Do either of you have examples and documentation of American Cancer Society officials making bogus allegations about threats in other states? Thanks.
Statehouse reporter, The Columbus Dispatch
7. March 6, 2006, Columbus Dispatch, "Report of Threat at Smoking Ban Gearing 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. A mention of the alleged threat in a Dispatch story Wednesday brought an outpouring of skeptical phone calls and e-mails, some demanding that the newspaper retract its story. Sabetta and Wendy Simpkins, the American Cancer Society spokeswoman quoted in the story, stood by their account yesterday. . . . "I never perceived a threat of physical violence, but I thought it might be in her best interest not to get into a yelling match with this person," Osgood said yesterday, adding that she did not know who the person was. But the two troopers who were on hand to maintain order contradicted Osgood's account. In an interview, they both said they have no memory or record of any threat against Sabetta and that Osgood never alerted them to any potentially threatening statements or actions. "We weren't ever contacted about any threats or asked to keep an eye on any specific individual," Trooper Hugh Fredendall said. . . . 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."
I provide the above extended excerpt for readers to have a full sense of the shifting story. Major Booker with the Ohio State Highway Patrol confirmed to me in a conversation on March 4, 2007 the representations by Deborah Kistner in the above E-Mail. I responded with a Web form confirmation of our conversation. As is apparent from the above text, I also corresponded with Mr. Nash at The Dispatch.
Copies of my inquiries of the Columbus Dispatch, Ohio regional Directors of the American Cancer Society and Wendy Simpkins are included in Columbus Dispatch-ACS Alleged Threats.
So there you have it. Strident cries of grave threats about violence and the safety of earnest American Cancer Society representatives, or more of the same we heard in Washington in 1994: public hearing statements by American Cancer Society personnel that meeting attendees there threatened them, too? You decide. Having been on the receiving end of an American Cancer Society "discrediting campaign" in the past (see Opposition to Smoking Bans Heats Up VI), perhaps some would say that I am not an objective observer.
Of course I'm not an objective observer. Who in good conscience could stand idly by and watch someone else get poked in the eye with the same sharp stick the American Cancer Society wielded on them 13 years ago? Conscience and basic human integrity require that one speak out to put an end to the private foundation hate-stick being wielded on anyone, for any purpose, at any time.
Tobacco control is a mercantile agenda crafted to benefit the biggest of Big Drugs, Big Tobacco and Big Foundations at the intended expense of taxpayers, consumers, and small business owners. Its preferred methods of operation are, by public policy definition, to decrease tolerance for its "Target Group" of choice, persons who smoke. As is now evident from the tawdry events in Ohio over the past week, that same Anti-Mentality of the tobacco control Agenda-Afflicted is to show the same intolerance for anyone who opposes its self-serving agenda and the devastating public policy that enacts it.
I believe that it is long past time for this to end. Who's with me on that?
Be well, do good, and best always,
Norman E. Kjono