Grasshoppers Busily At Work

By Norman E. Kjono, April 29, 2007

On Monday, April 30, 2007 Forces.org posted my commentary About Ants and Grasshoppers.That work expanded an Aesop's fable about the foolish Grasshopper and the responsible Ant. The conclusion at the end of my Epilogue was that those who refuse to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. The thing about Grasshoppers is that - similar to Biblical plague locusts - they consume everything in sight and leave a barren, clear-cut swath in their wake. Today, we examine three varieties of the species busily at work at opposite ends of the globe. The similarity of USA and Iranian Grasshopper behavior toward others is compelling.

 

Iranian Grasshoppers

Across the world in Iran the Grasshoppers are busily at it. From MSNBC News, April 29, 2007, "Iran Bans Western Style Hair cuts, "  by Reuters:

TEHRAN, Iran - Iranian police have warned barbers against offering Western-style hair cuts or plucking the eyebrows of their male customers, Iranian media said on Sunday. . . . 'Western hair styles have been banned,' the newspaper Etemad said in a frontpage headline. . . . The head of the barbers' union, Mohammad Eftekharifard, said police had instructed it to 'exercise specific regulations in barber shops that work under its supervision.' Barbers who do not follow these rules might be closed down for a month and even lose their permits to operate, Etemad quoted him as saying. 'Currently some barber shops apply make-up and use (hair) styles that are in line with those in European countries and America,' Eftekharifard said. He added: 'An official order has been sent to the union ... not to apply make-up on men's faces (or) do eyebrows ... and hence the barbers are not allowed to do these things.'" (Underline added.)

 

With smoking apparently banned under Iranian Muslim law, the hard-liners in Iran have "progressively" moved on to hair styles. It seems to me that the hardliners in Iran should get together with the Pristine Clean - those who madly rush about the state informing everyone that their hair stinks after they go into a bar that (Oh, my God!) allows smoking -  in the USA. Together, they could form the Grasshopper Political Union (GPU). Through compromise legislation they could mandate that nonsmokers be required to shave their heads bald. Voila! No more smelly hair and no more concern about "sinful" hair styles. As an added advantage, all persons who smoke would become highly conspicuous, thereby providing locusts hordes with clearly- defined "Targets."

 

Colorado Grasshoppers

 

From Rocky Mountain News, April 28, 2007, "Smoke Ban Inspires 'Who's on 1st' Routine" by Bill Johnson:

"The legislature's quest to outlaw smoking in Colorado fascinates mostly because of the sheer inequality involved. Then there's the stumblings and fumblings by elected leaders trying to salvage last year's poorly written, special interest-protecting law, and, finally, the quite avoidable human and economic toll the folly has exacted. A smoker these days could go crazy trying to figure out where it is lawful to light up. Are casinos smoke-free now or not? Cigar bars? How come they smoke in that bar, but not in this one? . . . Mike Broncucia and I sit at his brand new bar - finding a stool is not difficult like in the old days - and he reminisces. 'A lot of people just quit drinking in bars. That's all that's happened,' Mike Broncucia says. 'You know, the older crowd for years would come in first thing, have a couple of beers and a few cigarettes. I used to open up for them at 8. Now I don't open the doors until 11. 'I don't know what happened to them. All I know is no matter what a judge says or the politicians do, I doubt that they would ever come back.'"

 

Mr. Johnson eloquently sums up the workings of Colorado tobacco control locusts in his interesting work as excerpted above. Those who read the entire content of that story will find that Mr. Johnson documents four figure per month losses for one Colorado bar owner. Such, unfortunately, is the economic toll exacted on many bars statewide by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's grant-funded tobacco control minions and Colorado Department of Health anti-tobacco activists. Rather than eradicating the pestilence, as common sense and fiscal responsibility require, it appears that in its highly-questionable wisdom the Colorado legislature has spent much of its time in session busily going through endless contortions to increase the species' territory. Meanwhile, the damage figures for bars and private clubs in Colorado increase daily.

 

Colorado Senator Betty Boyd

 

A chief anti-tobacco legislator in Colorado is Senator Betty Boyd. Her rate of sponsoring bills to expand the Colorado smoking ban is astonishing. It appears that as soon as the vote tally for a failed tobacco control legislative bill appears she has yet another version of the same old pap ready to file. Indeed, it appears that when a new bill to restrict smoking fails she will revert back to prior bill and recycle it. From Rocky Mountain News, April 28, 2007, "Senate's Smoking Bill Takes a U-turn,"  by April M. Washington:

 

"The battle over a bill to ban smoking in cigar bars took yet another twist Friday. Senate Bill 250 has morphed back into legislation that was killed earlier this year. It strictly limits smoking to true cigar bars and closes a loophole some taverns are using to skirt the state's smoking ban. The sponsor, Sen. Betty Boyd, D-Lakewood, backed away from outlawing smoking in cigar bars after falling short of the votes needed to win passage. The measure stalled Friday in the Senate, even after Boyd watered it down to appease fellow Democrats who want to allow smoking in cigar bars. The measure was sent to the Senate Appropriations Committee, where opponents hope it will be snuffed out for good. 'In my heart of hearts, I stand by what I've said all along: Why is it OK in some settings to smoke and not OK in another setting?' Boyd said. As it stands, SB 250 would require cigar bars to undergo a certification process and install on-site humidors. It would also specify that only cigar bars could get a smoking-ban exemption by showing that at least 5 percent of their sales are from tobacco. Currently, some taverns are claiming the 5 percent tobacco-sales provision to skirt the ban. The motion to send SB 250 to Appropriations was made by Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton, a smoker who argued that the bill is 'elitist.' "

 

Well, Senator Boyd, you make normal folks' point precisely: why is it OK in some settings to smoke and not OK in another setting? Heart of hearts aside, I suspect that many bar and private club proprietors are diligently examining that question in their wallet of wallets.

 

Whatever else may be true about the Colorado smoking ban it is now abundantly clear that it is not about legitimate public health. The smoking ban fight has now regressed to a political brawl over who is to enjoy exemption from "protecting" patrons employees from the alleged risks of Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS), who is to be forced to bear the cost of doing so, and the conditions attached to exemptions. For example, what is the rational legislative basis for installing a humidor to advance legislation to allegedly "protect" customers from secondhand smoke when the purpose of requiring that humidors be installed is to qualify for an exemption from a smoking ban? Both the cigar bar exemption and the criteria to qualify for it under the multiple versions of Senator Boyd's SB 250 defy responsible public health measures and common sense: the cigar bar exemption allows an alleged public health menace to remain in place and unabated to assure passage of legislative bills that prohibit it in other locations.

 

Beyond elitist, politicians' fixation on the cigar bar exemption is foolish from a public health standpoint because it implies that cigar smoke is safe whereas cigarette smoke is a deadly toxin. Were the alleged risks of ETS as stated by tobacco control to be true no exemptions from smoking bans can or should be enacted. There are no studies that conclude secondhand cigar smoke is safe. We therefore observe the now-predictable and highly questionable behavior of tobacco control advocates in effect adjusting alleged risk to suit political expedience to advancing their special-interest cause. Which is, of course, what they have done for years since the December 1992 secondhand smoke report that is now thoroughly debunked by both our federal courts and OSHA was published. Such disingenuous approaches merely highlight the contradictory and conflicting science employed to support allegations that Environmental Tobacco Smoke presents a bona fide, material risk. I believe that those contradictory approaches to public health regulation raise serious and sustaining questions from both due process and equal protection of the law viewpoints.

 

It does not go unnoticed by more rational people that the greatest source consumer base for Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) by a vast margin is cigarette smokers, with cigar smokers as a very small comparative percentage of the market for tobacco products. The Colorado legislature's political Keystone Cops antics reveal that the smoking ban is about expanding the pharmaceutical nicotine special-interest agenda wherever and however that can be accomplished, as it always has been. Such are the contradictions imposed by a "Bait and Switch" mercantile product sales intervention that is transparently cloaked as a public health measure. It is a tragedy that many small business owners and operators in Colorado are caught in the economic snare of that self-serving agenda.

 

I believe the demand for "in kind" donations of pharmaceutical lobbyists' time to draft bills special-interest could be at an unprecedented high in Colorado. Make no mistake about it, Betty Boyd is serious - she'll apparently shake her finger or a pen at anyone who stands in the way of a Grasshopper hostile takeover of the free market.

 

Ohio Grasshoppers

 

The Iranian hardliners' soul mate appears to be Ohio County health commissioner Dr. David Grossman. Like the Iranian police, he's come up with a ways to shut down lawful businesses, too. From the Toledo Blade, March 4, 2007, "Official Wants State to Shut Repeat Smoke-Ban Violators," by Jenni Laidman:  

 

Ohio County Health Commissioner Dr. David Grossman

 

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.)  

 

I leave it to readers' imagination how Senator Boyd and Dr. Grossman would look with bald heads.

 

Not to leave a stone unturned in his relentless pursuit of heathen Moabites who smoke, Dr, Grossman has upped the smoking penalty ante even further in Ohio. He's now apparently considering that driver's licenses be suspended or revoked for persons who violate the Ohio smoking ban. One thing that normal folks can absolutely rely on is that if an anti-tobacco activist mentions a new penalty for smoking it is a prophecy. Each smoking violation could cost one point on a driver's license, 12 points and you're off the road in Ohio. Taxicab and truck drivers beware: smoking could not only cost you your driver's license but also your livelihood. They, too, can join bartenders and waiters in the unemployment line according to the good doctor.   

 

From the Toledo Blade, April 29, 2007, "Enforcement Day Nears for Public Smoking Ban," by Joe Vardon:

 

Brian Duncan wasn't puffing a cigar while sitting in Delaney's Lounge in Toledo last week, but he said he frequents the establishment when he wants to enjoy a drink and a smoke. Those who have similar tastes have been able to go to places such as Delaney's, even though a majority of Ohio voters on Nov. 7 approved a ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, and most other indoor public places. . . . The Ohio Department of Health's rules regarding the ban and its penalties are now set. Unless a court intervenes, enforcement will begin on Thursday. Anyone smoking in most indoor public places, or the establishments in which the smoking took place, will be subject to penalties ranging from a warning letter to fines. . . . The Buckeye Permit Holders Association, a group mostly representing bars and restaurants, expects to hear Wednesday afternoon whether a Hamilton County Common Pleas Court judge will place both the law and the operating rules on hold while its lawsuit proceeds. . . . Litigation over the private club exemption is also pending from another organization, the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, and the American Cancer Society. . . . The ban is to be enforced by county health departments, which will respond to written, electronic, or telephone complaints filed either through the state or county health department. Dr. David Grossman, Toledo-Lucas County health commissioner, said there will likely be two or three Lucas County inspectors charged with investigating smoking complaints at any one time. Dr. Grossman said if an investigator personally witnesses a violation, he or she must still file a complaint before a citation is issued. 'There's still a due process involved, but if a complaint comes from an inspector, we would probably take it serious enough to issue a letter without further investigation,' Dr. Grossman said. Jay Carey, director of public affairs for the Ohio Department of Health, said the ban focuses more on the establishments than the people who frequent them. . . . Dr. Grossman said one problem with the ban is its most severe penalties are not stiff enough. He said smoking violations should be handled in the same manner as driving violations. 'I can get up to 12 points [on my driver's license]," Dr. Grossman said. "Once I get 12, I lose my license. I truly and strongly feel punishment for repeated and deliberate offenses should be closing.'" (Underline added.)

 

The above news report provides an equal or greater need for mental health certification of tobacco control advocates than it reports newsworthy content. Why would The Blade complain about business establishments not complying with a smoking ban for which enforcement rules were not yet written or approved? That issue is of particular importance in light of the fact that the original Ohio Department of Health's rules included private clubs and the current rules include a private club exemption. To my mind, Dr. Grossman's views about punishment speak for themselves as those of an imbalanced zealot. No punishment for citizens failing to submit to his personal preference is apparently too extreme. Future leaders of the Iranian-American GPU will be proud.

 

From the Toledo Blade, April 30, 2007, "Judge Bars Smoking in Private Clubs," by Jim Provance:

 

"COLUMBUS - Private clubs will have to stamp out cigarettes starting Thursday along with nearly all other employers as a result of a court order Monday placing their exemption on hold for at least two weeks. There was some question, however, as to the scope of the order. The Department of Health maintains it applies only to Franklin County where the order was issued. The American Cancer Society argues it applies to the entire state. 'I think it applies across the board because the department cannot be in a position of treating private clubs in one county differently than in another county,' said Don McTigue, attorney for the cancer society. 'I think that would represent some problems for them.'' Franklin County Common Pleas Court Judge David Cain issued a temporary restraining order shelving a rule written by the Ohio Department of Health that allows some private clubs whose employees also happen to be organization members to avoid the ban on indoor public smoking passed by voters on Nov. 7. Judge Cain will hold a hearing on May 14 to decide whether to make his order permanent. The judge met behind closed doors with attorneys for the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association and the American Cancer Society, who were on opposite sides of the issue last November but presented a united front against the private club exemption. The association, which represents largely bars and restaurants, maintains that the exemption would give the private clubs a state-sanctioned competitive advantage. The cancer society argues that the exemption thwarts the will of the people when they approved the law, which specifically included private clubs that have employees among nearly all employers subject to the ban."

 

According to The Blade's report excerpted above, the penalties for the Ohio smoking ban are as follows:

 

PENALTIES AGAINST BUSINESSES


• First violation: Warning letter.

• Second violation: $100.

• Third violation: $500.

• Fourth violation: $1,000.

• Subsequent violations: $2,500.

AGAINST SMOKERS
• First violation: Warning letter.

• Second violation: $100.

• Third violation: $100.

• Fourth violation: $100.

• Subsequent violations: $100.

 

The American Cancer Society should note that the will of the people was clearly expressed on November 7, when the ballot measure description said private clubs and small family businesses were to be exempt. Please see the ballot measure language prescribed by the Ohio Ballot Board   (underlines added by me):

Prohibit smoking in places of employment and most public places - Smoke Free

PROPOSED LAW (Proposed by Initiative Petition)

To enact Chapter 3794. of the Ohio Revised Code to restrict smoking in places of employment and most places open to the public.

The proposed law would:

  • Prohibit smoking in public places and places of employment;
  • Exempt from the smoking restrictions certain locations, including private residences (except during the hours that the residence operates as a place of business involving non-residents of the private residence), designated smoking rooms in hotels, motels, and other lodging facilities; designated smoking areas for nursing home residents; retail tobacco stores, outdoor patios, private clubs, and family-owned and operated places of business;
  • Authorize a uniform statewide minimum standard to protect workers and the public from secondhand tobacco smoke;
  • Allow for the declaration of an establishment, facility, or outdoor area as nonsmoking;
  • Require the posting of "No Smoking" signs, and the removal of all ashtrays and similar receptacles from any area where smoking is prohibited;
  • Specify the duties of the department of health to enforce the smoking restrictions
  • Create in the state treasury the "smoke free indoor air fund;"
  • Provide for the enforcement of the smoking restrictions and for the imposition of civil fines upon anyone who violates the smoking restrictions.

 

The American Cancer Society - a Nanny of All Grasshoppers (NAG) - now seeks to engage in the predictable behavior of locusts: clear-cut consume everything in an ever-expanding territory. In stark contrast with representations of the cancer society, the ballot description that voters approved exempts private clubs and family-owned small businesses.

Rather than supporting the will of Ohio voters, the American Cancer Society simply pulled off the "Bait and Switch" voters that their current behavior says they planned all along.  It's amazing what few minutes behind closed doors in a judge's chambers with one side of the argument who challenge a smoking ban exemption can apparently accomplish. If the judge believes the smoking ban rules published by the Ohio Department of Health are not enforceable as is why and how does he not suspend enforcement of the rules for private clubs and family operated small businesses, as the Issue 5 ballot measure described?

Finally, Dr. Grossman made the news yet again on April 29th. From the Toledo Blade, "Ohio Smoking Ban Foes May Create Legal Log Jam,"  by Jim Provance:

 

"Some opponents of the voter-passed law have talked about creating a logjam of appeals in protest, but such battles eventually would lead to courts in Columbus, would take months or potentially years to resolve, and could cost far more than the fines imposed. The latter would be especially true for individual smokers, whose fines would be $100 maximum. 'If you check out Colorado, it cost the state $6,000 for a $200 fine,' said Bill Delaney, owner of Delaney's Lounge in Toledo. 'If this is the process, we could jam up Franklin County court till hell freezes over. Everybody thinks this is going to work out fine, but people are still smoking yet.' . . . If decisions are appealed just through the point at which a case is reviewed by a hearing officer appointed by the local health board, the process would take months. If a fined business or individual smoker insists on appealing beyond that, the battle would take place in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in Columbus, nearly 150 miles from Toledo, and the time frame would extend from months to years. 'Maybe we'll get rid of smoking by 2012,' said Dr. David Grossman, Toledo-Lucas County health commissioner. 'It's still rocky to me. You send one letter and then another letter, and there's 30 days for this and 30 days for that, and if there are more appeals it could be weeks and months between courts. 'I think people do need a chance to appeal,' he said. 'But you can't be Machiavellian about this. You have the right to say, 'I'm not doing what they've accused me of,' but once the evidence obviously shows what they're doing or if I see someone smoking, there shouldn't be an open-ended appeals process. I think this will be cumbersome and difficult.'" (Underline added.)

 

Dr. Grossman can safely bet his sweet bippy that it will be cumbersome and difficult to enforce the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's special-interest smoking ban in Ohio. The good doctor's statements illuminate the simple minded, absolutist thinking of anti-tobacco activists.  Firstly, he reveals his agenda: to "get rid of smoking," which is to say to use state regulatory power to stop persons who choose to do so from lawfully consuming a legal product. In effect, Dr. Grossman says that if one does what he disapproves of or if "I see someone smoking" that is the only evidence required or argument permitted. After that, Dr. Grossman makes it clear that going completely through the appeals process is "Machiavellian" and "cumbersome."  The implicit message is "Once I catch you doing it there is no excuse for not giving you a fair trial and hanging you by sundown."

Well, sorry about that Dr. Goodman and the American Cancer Society. One of the intervening variables that both of you appear to apparently forget is due process. I suspect that anti-tobacco activists will be learning a great deal about that subject over the next year. We'll begin with a long-past-due course in remedial civics.

 

About Care and Breeding of Grasshoppers

 

Smoking bans impose a coerced consumer choice of "Smoke Free" nicotine delivery device products on consumers. As is evident for the above reports, there are apparently few extremes that will not be employed to enforce that unwarranted choice on consumers. In that context, readers may find the two following works published by Forces.org to be of interest:

 

Tobacco Control: Basic Information No. 1:  This work, published March 30, 2007, traces the connection of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) special-interests to tobacco control advocacy.

 

Philip Morris & Tobacco Control:  This work was last updated August 20, 2006. It presents eleven common points of interest and policy advocacy that Philip Morris and tobacco control advocates share.

 

Those with an interest in understanding some of the historical aspects of tobacco control and how both Big Tobacco and Big Drugs have hijacked - indeed, inspired and financed - that agenda to suit their own ends may find California's Proposition 86: A Review of Voting Patterns and Broader Issues to be of interest.

 

Philip Morris loves it. Citizens who, like Philip Morris, support smoking bans assure a robust market for the company's "Smoke Free" Aria nicotine inhaler that was announced October 2005. Those citizen voters also support the market for Philip Morris/US Smokeless Tobacco's Taboka brand of snuff. Many of those citizens also support taxpayer subsidies of Philip Morris through Parity Pricing. Philip Morris exploits the financial advantage of selling its lower-taxed Other Tobacco Products (OTP) smokeless Taboka brand at the higher cigarette price, which is artificially inflated through tobacco tax advocacy. Philip Morris then pockets the differential between OTP and cigarette excise taxes as profit.

 

GlaxoSmithKline loves it. As the distributor for NicoDerm CQ patch, Nicorette gum, and Commit lozenge Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) products the company enjoys taxpayer funded enforcement of smoking bans that directly supports stability and expansion of the market for its nicotine delivery devices. It also enjoys artificially-inflated profits from sales of its "Smoke Free" nicotine delivery devices similar to Philip Morris. But Big Drugs enjoys an even greater economic advantage from Parity Pricing than Big Tobacco because zero excise taxes are charges on its nicotine products. Every dime of new cigarette taxes therefore translates to pure profit potential for GSK nicotine products. The only question left open is how high they can jack NRT prices in correspondence with increased cigarette prices. Aggressive promotion and enactment of smoking bans directly supports such price increases.

 

Johnson & Johnson loves it. The company's ALZA Corp. subsidiary manufacturers NicoDerm CQ for GlaxoSmithkline. In addition, in June 2006 Johnson & Johnson announced its acquisition of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare for $16.6 billion. The purchase, which closed in December 2006, included reportedly Nicorette.  Every dime of higher prices that GlaxoSmithKline can wring out of nicotine patch and gum products equals an opportunity for Johnson & Johnson to charge higher manufacturer prices to GlaxoSmithKline. Are "Smoke Free" nicotine monopolists using manufacturer and distributor agreements to distribute cartel profits?

 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation loves it. Every dollar of profit derived through sale of NicoDerm CQ and Nicorette at artificially inflated prices supports both the market value of its reported $3.7 billion holdings in Johnson & Johnson and dividends paid on that stock. To grasp the importance of supporting dividends paid on the foundation's massive holdings of JNJ please note that reported $446 million in 1992 - 2005 grants to tobacco control advocates is merely equal to or less than the dividends paid on its reported stock holdings in the company during that period. The foundation's grant making is also focused on reducing barriers to use of Nicotine Replacement Therapy (see, for example, $29,833 grant to the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco).  

 

The American Cancer Society loves it. When the American Cancer Society was the nationwide manager for the George H.W. Bush administration's 1991 to 1998 American Stop Smoking Intervention Study (Project ASSIST) it was the recipient of considerably more than $10 million in grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Today the society is part and parcel of state tobacco control coalitions that receive tobacco settlement and cigarette tax funding as well. The more smoking bans to be passed the more funding that flows. The American Cancer Society often receives RWJ foundation grants for campaigns to pass smoking bans (see, for example a current $95,000 grant for a smoking ban campaign  in Jackson, Mississippi and a $138,720 grant for a smoking ban campaign in Tiscaloosa, Alabama). It's a great, risk-free business, if one does not mind closing down small businesses, imposing higher costs on consumers, and setting up taxpayers for higher taxes for a living.

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights loves it. Current Robert Wood Johnson Foundation active grants to Americans for nonsmoker's rights include $3 million for core support and infrastructure development  and $1 million  to provide "rapid response funding to enable communities and groups to support, protect or implement smoke free policies." ANR is well compensated for its nationwide support of smoking bans.

 

The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Loves it.  Current Robert Wood Johnson Foundation active grants to the National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids include $14 million in support funding.   total RWJ foundation support grants to date are reportedly $84 million. The center is highly compensated for its ongoing campaign to increase cigarette taxes.

 

Many city, county and tribal governments love it. See, for example, a $74,901 RWJ foundation grant to the City of Portland to eliminate smoking in rental housing units, $75,000 to Northwest Portland Are Indian Health Board

Tobacco control advocates aggressively promote ever-escalating costs and penalties to support it. Please note that Dr. Grossman says county health departments will be responsible for enforcing the Ohio smoking ban and that two to three county employees will be assigned with enforcement activities. Please also note that the Issue 5 description expressly states the law will 'Create in the state treasury the "smoke free indoor air fund.'" In addition, portions of the 1998 tobacco settlement payments fund tobacco control and designated portions of new tobacco taxes are used to fund anti-tobacco campaigns in many states. Such use of resources diverts revenue and staff from other city, county, and state needs while creating a special-interest infrastructure that must be maintained in perpetuity by taxpayers. 

 

Taxpayers, consumers and small business owners pay for it. While states cry poor to fund necessary budgets public officials stand aside and permit anti-tobacco locusts to clear-graze state revenues. In addition to paying for health department employees to enforce smoking bans taxpayers also finance Quit Lines in many states that aggressively promote distribution of Nicotine Replacement Therapy patches and gums. Taxpayers have been duped into funding state employees who promote and enforce smoking ban regulations that stabilize the "Smoke Free" nicotine market, enforce tax collections for artificially inflated cigarette prices that create private mercantile profits through Parity Pricing, and push inferior Nicotine Replacement Therapy products on consumers. It's one of the most profitable taxpayer subsidized product marketing, distribution and enforcement systems in existence. The operation of the special-interest system then adds economic damage insult for small business owners to due process and equal protection of the law injury.

 

Taxpayers, consumers, and small business owners merely need to consider question to understand both the current manic frenzy of smoking bans and the draconian costs that they impose: if Nicotine Replacement Therapy products were in fact superior to cigarettes and the reported 70 percent of all smokers desperately want to quit as tobacco control claims why would there be any need whatsoever for smoking bans? Common sense says that if such products were superior to cigarettes smoking rates would have plummeted years ago and nicotine gums, patches or inhalers would have by and large replaced cigarettes.

 

Citizens and voters who still support smoking bans and higher cigarette taxes are free to do so of course, however misguided that support may be in light of current facts. But, having said that, it is also important to point out that those citizens and voters must also be ready, willing, and able to pay for the privilege of their personal preference about other people's lawful behavior. Tobacco control advocates, Philip Morris, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have billions a stake. The combined economic and political clout of the biggest of Big Tobacco, the biggest of Big Drugs, and the biggest of Big Health foundations assures advocacy to impose as far-reaching costs as possible.

 

Closing Thoughts

 

I recommend Dr. Grossman and Senator Boyd as chief delegates to the Iranian-American GPU. Dr. Grossman's deft use of lifting bar owners' liquor license and citizen driver's licenses over smoking should have great appeal in Tehran. Senator Boyd's demonstrated ability to confound legislative sessions with never-ending, off-the-mark bills would considerably advance the hardliners' mandate frenzy. The only apparent downside is that a barbershop owner in Tehran who served a glass of wine to customers while giving a western-style haircut to a smoker would probably be in very deep doo doo.

 

Given the current special-interest, healthist state of affairs in our part of the world we probably wouldn't even notice a change in the USA. Under Tehran's rules things might even lighten up a bit.

 

Meanwhile, taxpayers, small business owners and consumers continue to bear the ever-escalating burden of supporting a special-interest mercantile agenda.

 

A better choice seems to be eradicating tobacco control and other special-interest advocacy Grasshoppers before they reduce America to a barren wasteland. We could begin by banning participation in tobacco control funding to any person who fails to pass mental health and constitutional law examinations.

 

But wait! "Healthy Lifestyles" legislation such as the 109th Congress's Senate Bill 1074 that was sponsored by then-Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH) incorporates anti-tobacco, anti-obesity and mental health into one federal oversight program, then adds in federal grants to counties, states, and advocacy groups for the whole shebang.

 

Oh boy. We're well and soundly screwed!

 

Norman E. Kjono


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