Politics, Housing, And Tobacco Control

By Norman E. Kjono, January 16, 200 

Lucky Susan Paynter

By Norman E. Kjono, January 19, 2007


From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, "Apartment Smoking Bans Strike Young Renters As No Big Deal,"   by Susan Paynter, staff columnist.


"I use the word 'evolution' with caution. Intelligent designers may demand a rebuttal. But it strikes me that that's exactly what has happened in the year since the statewide public smoking ban was met with primal howls. 'What's next?' smokers puffed then. 'Telling us we can't smoke in our own homes?' Well, that is precisely what some rental landlords, health advisers and public housing agencies are pushing -- spurred by renters who prefer their noses and their apartment buildings smoke-free. Cue the yelps about the nanny state and one's home as one's castle. But ask young Seattle apartment dwellers -- men and women in their 20s including those who smoke -- and you may find as I did that A: Non-smoking apartments -- at least in nice buildings -- are already the norm. B. It's no big deal. And C. Even those who smoke often prefer keeping their butts and those of their guests outside in the open air. Renters who are angry about non-smoking buildings may be a dying breed. Aaron Campeau is 24, a smoker, and lives at . . . a no-smoke apartment in Ballard. . . . he doesn't really like to smoke inside his apartment anyway. 'Going outside is better than the apartment getting really gross,' he said. . . . Sure, such bans punish people for unhealthy behavior. But considering everyone's rights, including those who want to avoid secondhand smoke, is OK by him. . . . John Barlow, who is 21 and rarely smokes unless he's having a drink, lives in a non-smoking apartment in the U District and doesn't mind at all the idea of apartment smoking bans. Maybe I got lucky with the tenants I talked to. But their acceptance of increasing restrictions on smoking makes me think what we have here is intelligent evolution."


Arron Campeau seems to have no compunction about paying the same rent as everyone else while having his lawful choices about legal products curtailed. John Barlow apparently smokes when he has a drink; for everyone else in nontribal bars smoking has been banned in Washington for more than a year. Smoking outside? In densely-populated urban areas try to find a place to smoke that is not within 25 feet of a doorway or ventilation intake. Tobacco control is pushing smoking bans in parks and on beaches. Many employers prohibit smoking on outdoor company property. Smoking outside is no more a viable option in most Washington places than indoors.


To my mind, Ms. Paynter's column smacks of a rather limited understanding of reality. That's OK by me. She is as entitled as any other newspaper columnist to contradict herself with her own pen.


Terry McLlarky says smoking is a point of dispute in the Kirkland public-housing apartment complex where he serves on a residents committee.

The above picture is from a January 16, 2007 article in the Seattle Times, "Smoking Foes Bring the Fight to Apartment buildings,"   by Sanjay Bhatt, which said in part: 

"A year after a statewide smoking ban took effect at workplaces, restaurants, bars and other public places, a new battlefield over secondhand smoke is emerging: apartment buildings. Spurred on by nonsmoking tenants and public-health leaders, more private landlords are considering restricting smoking inside their rental units. And local public-housing agencies are also looking at banning smoking in the units of some buildings."  

One wonders how the Seattle Times photographer prompted Mr. McLlarky to assume that nannyesque pose. The twenty-somethings that Paynter quotes should pay careful attention to the above picture. In a few heartbeats they could look 60-plus, too, by inhaling the negative energy stink of intolerance-mongering sniff tests about one's neighbors. There goes the auditions for American Idol.  

I wrote about Bhatt's article published by The Times' in Politics, Housing, and Tobacco Control  January 18, 2007. Overlooked in that reporter's article is the fact that the alleged resident interest in smoke free apartments was spurred by a May 2006 survey prepared by the office of Seattle tobacco control czar, Roger Valdez. I provided a link to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) notice for the survey in that posting. It turns out that the allegedly-spontaneous support for apartment smoking bans is rigged through surveys and special-interest promotion, a fact blithely ignored by the Seattle Times.  

As also reported in the Forces.org January 18, 2007 posting, Mr. Valdez' views about smoking. See his views as published by 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. Today, your local bar; tomorrow, your home."

 Ms. Paynter, continues with her negative labelling of and unfavourable stereotypes about persons who smoke campaign that dates back to at least January 2004. I reported about that in my commentary "Columnist Susan Paynter: Highly Selective Outrage."   At the time Washington's statewide smoking ban I-890 was gathering signatures. Washington superior court judge Tabor ordered that tribal exclusion language be included in I-890's ballot measure description. The measure failed to gather enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. The new smoking ban in Pierce County was also being enforced, but was later overturned by our state superior, appeals and supreme courts. That now-failed tobacco control legal battle was facilitated in large part-as to both passing the ban and financing its legal defense-by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation of Princeton, New Jersey.  

Tobacco control came back with $1.6 million behind I-901 in 2005, which passed. It took refusing to disclose that tribal casinos, restaurants and bars were exempt from that ban to garner sufficient public support. That the exemption rendered tobacco control's claim that I-901 would "protect all workers" from the alleged risks of secondhand smoke to be a lie was expediently overlooked. When honest disclosure doesn't work just omit disclosing deal-killer facts and press on. Hence, "bait and switch" for all taxpayers and consumers-including nonsmokers-becomes a hallmark of tobacco control agendas and initiatives. It's a well-deserved moniker.  

The identifiable behaviour pattern is that when anti-tobacco has an agenda to loft Washington's main-stream media can be relied upon to fire up the "news" about how "stinky" smokers are, while letting the public know how strongly everyone in the world supports the current public policy pitch. When focused on smoking bans it's a great way to assure that pharmaceutical advertising revenues keep flowing in. 

This year, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and tobacco control activists that it supports have decided they have a thing about smoking in one's home. The agenda dates back to 2005, however its consequences are just beginning to emerge. Cue Sanjay Bhatt and Susan Paynter. Haul out the main-stream media BS machine. This time, twist the same old tobacco control negative labels and unfavourable stereotypes to fit the new agenda.  

The only creativity that seems to be applied is how to twist the old, stale and worn out mantras to fit an ever-expanding agenda, which is becoming increasingly difficult. For example, previous smoking bans were "justified" by the claim that secondhand smoke kills. The PI refused to address that subject when I brought it to the attention of its editor, Ms. Simon (see my commentary "Susan Paynter: Ridiculing Neighbors,"  published by Froces.org February 2004). When the facts do not support an agenda, simply invent a new spin to push ahead regardless of the truth, while writing as if the previous pitch had not been shot down in flames by credible sources such as federal judges, OSHA and legitimate science published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.  

Finally, Sanjay Bhatt and Susan Paynter are clearly out of touch with how fast public support for anti-tobacco's punitive, intrusive agenda is diminishing. I wrote about that in California's Proposition 86: A Review of Voting Patterns and Broader Issues published by Forces.org early this week. Field poll survey data included in the first few pages of that commentary reveal rapidly declining support. Interestingly, when one looks at the demographics we find that Ms. Paynter wasn't lucky at all in her choice of persons to interview. She merely selected those from a younger demographic group that tobacco control survey data say tend to support its agenda.  

It's simply amazing what several billion in tobacco control grants to schools over more than a decade can do. Thinking by the twenty-somethings Ms. Paynter interviewed is a product of anti-smoking Project ASSIST interventions in schools and tobacco settlement Legacy Foundation "Truth" campaigns. Students might not be able to point to where Pakistan is located on a map, or know a constitutional issue from a Donald Duck cartoon, but they can spout with certainty anti-tobacco dogma on cue.  

'Nuff said. Words penned by both Bhatt and Paynter about residential smoking bans speak for themselves as blatant dismissal of "Target" persons to advance a special-interest agenda, to garner its associated pharmaceutical advertising revenues. As always, just follow the bucks.  

I'm profoundly grateful that Ms. Paynter wrote as she did. She provides living proof that there is an intelligent design for the universe guiding evolution of body and soul. Who did Time Magazine name as Person of the Year  for 2006? See an excerpt:

"But look at 2006 through a different lens and you'll see another story, one that isn't about conflict or great men. It's a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. . . . It's about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes. The tool that makes this possible is the World Wide Web." (Underline, italic added.)

There's a message in that Time Magazine excerpt for main-stream media Social Marketeers: parroting the party line without critical thought equals diminishing market share and, ultimately, extinction. Considering that both the Seattle Times and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer require the mutual life support of a joint operating agreement to continue publishing, there's hope in that. Thanks, Susan, for helping our market share increase.  

In their outstanding book, "Revolutionary Wealth" (Borzoi Books 2006) Alvin and Heidi Toffler referred to folks as described by Time Magazine as "prosumers," those who create for themselves what is not available in the current market place. Against the power of earnest citizen collaboration to help one another intolerance-mongers do not have a prayer. We simply reject their inbred, group-think views and set about finding and communicating our truth as we understand it-to the betterment of us all.  

Glorifying those among younger generations, who by their unthinking words label themselves as the dumbest among the dumber, is not journalism. News photographers setting up an elderly man to pose and an intolerant nanny to support a biased news article is not respectable camera art. Both speak for themselves as crass, out-of-touch Social Marketeer bleatings; vain barks by now-toothless old dogs seeking to protect their turf, unsullied by nagging, inconvenient truth that presents itself on the Internet. Sanjay Bhatt's report is nothing short of a crude attempt to manufacture pretense of spontaneous, broad public support where it does not exist on its own merit. Ms. Paynter's column is a transparent attempt to shore up crumbling credibility of and diminishing public support for a now-well-worn-out pharmaceutical nicotine mercantile agenda. Finally, we the people get it, thanks in large part to self-serving main-stream media columns and news reports.  

Like dinosaurs, columnists and reporters of such persuasion reveal themselves to be a soon-extinct species that angrily howls at the fast-approaching comet of caring. Once the bright light of tolerance collides with the current nuclear winter of negative labels and unfavorable stereotypes that Ms. Paynter flings about the outcome is certain: like all dogma and hate campaigns of years gone by this, too, shall pass. 

Thank you, Susan. We appreciate that you have proved the case for evolution beyond reasonable doubt. You should, indeed, use the word "evolution" with extreme caution. 

Norman E. Kjono

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