Politics, Housing, And Tobacco Control
By Norman E. Kjono, January 16, 2007
From the Seattle Times, January 16, 2007, "Smoking Foes Bring the Fight to Apartment buildings," by Sanjay Bhatt.
"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. Since the ban took effect, people have gotten used to going out in the community and not being exposed to secondhand smoke, and that's prompted some to ask, 'Why do I have to take it in my home?' says Roger Valdez, manager of the tobacco-prevention program for Public Health - Seattle & King County, which enforces the smoking ban here. 'We've been surprised by the increased level of interest to make their apartments smoke-free,' he said. A year ago last month, the voter-approved Initiative 901 took effect. It prohibits smoking in work settings and public places - from offices to bowling alleys - and within 25 feet of their front doors, or a 'reasonable" distance, to keep smoke from wafting indoors.' . . . Perhaps nowhere is the issue more controversial than in public housing, where many residents - smokers and nonsmokers alike - have few housing options. "You have some people who say, 'My apartment is my castle. I should be able to smoke whenever I want,' and other people say, 'Yeah, but your smoke is helping to kill me,' said Terry McLlarky, a resident of Casa Juanita apartments in Kirkland, which is operated by the King County Housing Authority."
Terry McLlarky says smoking is a point of dispute in the Kirkland public-housing apartment complex where he serves on a residents committee.
Good for you, Mr. McLlarky! You've quit smoking, according to The Times after forty years of doing so. But why do you have a compulsion to impose your personal preference affliction on normal folks? Mr. McLlarky seeks to create Conditional Citizens to accommodate his personal preference choice. It appears that he believes some who pay the same rental costs as he does are entitled to less control of their home than he is. Conditional Citizen neighbors of Mr. McLLarky must accommodate diminished say in what they do in their home, while he enjoys expanding his mandates beyond the boundaries of his personal residence. He even spouts Social Marketing dogma about Environmental tobacco Smoke - now thoroughly discredited by authoritative sources such as our federal courts, OSHA, and studies published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute - to justify intruding into his neighbor's homes. The above picture says more than mere words could ever communicate - there stands Mr. McLLarky, imposing his guardianship of every home in the complex, whether the resident who pays the rent likes it or not.
There are a few basic understandings that must be reached about the above Seattle Times article. These understandings include:
1.0 It is not possible that King County's tobacco czar, Roger Valdez, is surprised about some tenant's "increased level of interest to make their apartments smoke-free," as reported by the Seattle Times. Contrary to his assertions in the above excerpt, citizens are asking about exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke because surveys published by Valdez' office tell and circulated by HUD them that is a question they should ask.
2.0 There is no credible fight about the alleged health risks imposed by tenants smoking in their apartments. The alleged risks have been thoroughly discredited by authoritative sources such as U.S. federal courts, OSHA, and studies published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
3.0 This unseemly HUD housing situation is created by a mercantile agenda. The beneficiaries are pharmaceutical nicotine distributors, tobacco companies and private foundations. Those who lose through the agenda are states, consumers, taxpayers and small business.
The Seattle Times' Revisionist History by Omission
1.0 It is not possible that King County's tobacco czar, Roger Valdez, is surprised about some tenant's "increased level of interest to make their apartments smoke-free." He is one of the "public-health leaders" who have been spurring on interest in "Smoke Free" apartments. Contrary to his assertions in the above excerpt from the Seattle Times' article, citizens are asking about exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke because surveys published by his office tell them that is a question they should ask.
1.1 The above Seattle Times report about smoking bans in private residences directly contradicts Mr. Valdez' previous denial that was his intent. Mr. Valdez' statements in his February 1, 2006 Letter to the Editor of the Seattle Weekly illustrate the point:
"I-901 does not prohibit smoking in private residences, and contrary to the impression given in the story, we are not trying to extend the reach of the law."
1.2 In May 2006, the King County Housing Authority (KCHA), part of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), distributed a Seattle-King County Department of Health Tobacco Prevention Program survey to residents.
a.) That survey reportedly contained 20 questions about smoking and secondhand smoke exposure. The envelope that sent the survey to residents included a "Thank you" $1 bill. The notice to residents about that survey published by KCHA included the telephone number for King County's Tobacco Prevention Program office, (206) 296-0211.
b.) Conspicuously absent from KCHA's notice to residents is any reference to the fact that the survey results could lead to a ban on smoking in residences at that HUD facility. The notice did, however, reference possible outcomes of "providing smoking cessation resources to residents, designating smoke free grounds, or offering new health services." What would the survey results have been, had King County Tobacco Prevention honestly disclosed that its purpose was to claim public support to justify its pre-determined ban on smoking in residential apartments?
c.) Given Mr. Valdez' views about tobacco use as quoted in 1.2 below, as well tobacco control's false statements about one Environmental Tobacco Smoke discussed in section 3.0, one need not speculate the bias crafted into survey questions smoking and about secondhand smoke. One also need not speculate about the bias with which King County health employees would discuss secondhand smoke with public housing residents who called the tobacco prevention telephone number. What would the survey results have been, had King County Tobacco Prevention honestly disclosed that its conclusions about Environmental Tobacco Smoke had been discredited by federal courts, OSHA, and studies published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute?
d.) HUD residential smoking bans were already a reality at the time Mr. Valdez' wrote the above January 2006 Letter to the Editor (see 1.6 below). For example, as revealed in my correspondence with HUD's director of Compliance, Mr. Turner, Houston HUD already had a smoking ban in place by January 2006.
e.) Moreover, ever-expanding application of smoking bans are the hallmarks of tobacco control. In 1994 Washington tobacco control advocates said they were not interested in banning smoking in restaurants and bars, to assure that the smoking ban in office work environments met minimum resistance. Mr. Valdez' enforcement of I-901 in 2006 exposed those statements for the lie that they were. The same holds true with Valdez' statements about residential smoking bans: within about 90 days of writing the above statements to the Seattle Weekly, in May of 2006, Mr. Valdez' Tobacco Prevention office was sending surveys to HUD housing residents to garner support for a residential smoking ban.
f.) Policy takes time to develop and does not happen in a vacuum. Surveys take time to prepare and distribute. Underlying individual policy or actions such as surveys is tobacco control's stated policy stated in 1993 to "increase the number of smoke free environments." I believe that Mr. Valdez knew precisely what he anticipated doing about imposing smoking bans in residential apartments through HUD at the time he sent his letter to the Seattle Weekly in January 2006. The chronology and facts set forth above strongly support that belief.
We have gone from Mr. Valdez' public denial that expanding enforcement of I-901 to include residences was his intent in February 2006, to a survey promoting residential smoking bans in May 2006, to the Seattle Times reporting about a residential smoking ban in January 2007. In less than year the truth is out, the jig is up.
Considering the above observations, the HUD notice and King County tobacco control survey of residents becomes tobacco control's now-predictable and misleading "bait and switch." The possibility of new health services is held out as an inducement for supporting anti-tobacco policy and residents learn only later that the survey is a public health hoax employed to jimmy resident support for a pre-determined smoking ban.
1.3 Mr. Valdez' views about persons lawfully consuming legal tobacco products are well-known. See for example, his views about smoking, as published by the Seattle Weekly in its January 18, 2006 article "Big Nanny is Watching you," by Phil Dawdy:
"A couple of weeks ago, I interviewed Roger Valdez, director of tobacco prevention for Public Health- Seattle & King County. He is in charge of Seattle-area enforcement of the statewide smoking ban approved by voters in November. I call him the tobacco czar. We were talking about how enforcement was working out, including the 25-foot rule. In the midst of our chat, Valdez said something remarkable. '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."
It appears to me that another right American's don't have is the right to be told the truth about what special-interests and their political supporters are up to about intruding into people's homes. The agenda comes first, whatever it takes to enact it a close second. Truth and honest disclosure trails in far-distant third place. Like Mr. Valdez, Mr. McLlarky also presumes to mandate what rights and legal recourse Conditional Citizens have. One need not speculate about the intent of those who express such views.
1.4 When low income HUD residents who smoke are thrown out in the streets by Valdez' utter disregard for basic rights to housing he'll track them down in homeless shelters, too. See, for example, Phil Dawdy's January 25, 2006 Seattle Weekly article, "Smoking Out the Homeless,"
When Washington's smoking ban went into effect last month, the worry in the social services community was that police might use it to hassle homeless people in Seattle for violating the 25-foot rule. As it turns out, it wasn't the police they needed to be concerned about. Public Health- Seattle & King County is now going after the state's largest homeless shelter for not stopping clients from smoking inside a specially constructed smoking room. On Jan. 17, the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) received a violation notice signed by Roger Valdez, the county's tobacco czar. . .
One need not speculate about the intent of those who will go after the homeless to enforce a special-interest agenda. Nor should one speculate about the tactics such political bullies will employ. Predictably, such self-crowned paragons of virtue and towering strength reveal their unseemly impotence by going after those who are unable to provide a strong response, the homeless and low income elderly.
1.5 Mr. McLlarsky is pictured as a member of the North/East Resident Advisory Committee in the above-linked KCHA news letter. Accordingly, one need not speculate about his views on smoking.
1.6 Such anti-smoking efforts are a continuation of HUD's program to ban smoking in public housing projects.
a.) See, for example, an excerpt form a January 23, 2006 E-Mail response to me from Milton F. Turner, Director, Compliance and Disability Rights Division, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mr. Turner responded to me concerning my inquiry about a smoking ban in Houston's Bnai' Brith Goldberg Towers HUD low income housing project:
"The issues you raise do not allege the kind of discrimination that is covered by the Fair Housing laws enforced by HUD. Therefore, FHEO does not have jurisdiction to assist you in the issues your raised in your message."
b.) When Mr. Turner wrote his response to me the Michigan Web site www.mismokefreeapartment.org Web site was online. The site publishes extensive information about prompting smoking bans in rental facilities, such as those being imposed by HUD. One need not speculate about the intent of an organized enterprise that is engaged in continuing efforts to accomplish what its proponents deny they are doing as they do it.
Contrary to Mr. Valdez being surprised, considering the above information it becomes apparent that his office inspired and crafted tenant support for the residential smoking ban. The Seattle Times is flatly incorrect in its characterization and description in this regard. Typical of tobacco control advocates, Mr. Valdez denies what he is doing as he does it, while choosing to target those who lack the ability or resources to provide meaningful response. Which is, of course not surprising at all about anti-tobacco activists, that has been their modus operandi for more than a decade.
2.0 There is no credible fight about the alleged health risks imposed by tenants smoking in their apartments. The alleged risks of exposure to Environmental Tobacco smoke (ETS) have been thoroughly discredited by authoritative sources, including our U.S. federal courts, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and studies published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The only fight that exists is what the Seattle Times chooses to manufacture for sensationalist purposes. Rational adults who have a genuine concern about state fiscal responsibility and legitimate public health must consider the following observations.
2.1 In 1998, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) spurious claims about Environmental Tobacco Smoke were eviscerated by a U.S. District Court judge. The false claims about ETS were included in the George H.W. Bush administration's December 1992 EPA publication "Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and other Disorders," EPA/600/6-90/0006F. On July 18, 1998 Judge Osteen ordered that Chapters 1-6 and appendices for that report be vacated.
2.2 EPA's false claims about ETS were based on studies about spouses living in the same residence with a person who smokes experienced increased risk of lung cancer and respiratory illness. The risk factor EPA came up with was 1.19, compare to risk factors of 2.0 or greater required by responsible epidemiologists. Moreover, EPA excluded studies that conflicted with its pre-determined outcome and lowered the statistical significance of its calculations from the customary 95 percent to 90 percent to achieve the negligible risk factor result of 1.19. Proper calculation of risk factors from the studies included in the 1992 EPA report produce a risk factor of about zero. Considering that the EPA report intentionally excluded studies that showed no increased risk factor, and that even EPA's jimmied statistical output fails to reach statistically significant risk factor threshold of 2.0 or greater, the actual health risk of exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke is responsibly characterized as zero.
2.3 Excerpts from Judge Osteen's July 18, 1998, 90 page-plus Memorandum Opinion appear below:
a.) On page 73 Judge Osteen specifically referenced EPA's use of a 90 percent confidence level in place of the customary 95 percent:
"The first contention is EPA switched, without explanation, from using standard 95% confidence intervals to 90% confidence intervals to enhance the likelihood that its meta-analysis would appear statistically significant. This shift assisted EPA in obtaining statistically significant results. Studies that are not statistically significant are "null studies"; they cannot support a Group A classification. See Brock v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 874 F.2d 307, 312 (5th Cir. 1989) ("If the confidence interval is so great that it includes the number 1.0, then the study will be said to show no statistically significant 'association between the factor and the disease."). EPA used a 95% confidence interval in the 1990 Draft ETS Risk Assessment, but later switched to a 90% confidence interval. Most prominently, this drew criticism from IAQC's epidemiologist, who was also a contributor to the ETS Risk Assessment: The use of 90% confidence intervals, instead of the conventionally used 95% confidence intervals, is to be discouraged. It looks like a[n] attempt to achieve statistical significance for a result which otherwise would not achieve significance." (Underline added.)
b.) On page 72 Judge Osteen's conclusions included a statement that EPA cherry-picked data:
"EPA's study selection is disturbing. First, there is evidence in the record supporting the accusation that EPA "cherry picked" its data. Without criteria for pooling studies into a meta- analysis, the court cannot determine whether the exclusion of studies likely to disprove EPA's a priori hypothesis was coincidence or intentional. Second, EPA's excluding nearly half of the available studies directly conflicts with EPA's purported purpose for analyzing the epidemiological studies and conflicts with EPA's Risk Assessment Guidelines. See ETS Risk Assessment at 4-29 ("These data should also be examined in the interest of weighing all the available evidence, as recommended by EPA's carcinogen risk assessment guidelines (U.S. EPA, 1986a) (emphasis added)). Third, EPA's selective use of data conflicts with the Radon Research Act. The Act states EPA's program shall "gather data and information on all aspects of indoor air quality."
c.) On page 60 Judge Osteen concluded that it was possible EPA adopted different methodologies for each chapter based on the outcome desired:
"The court is faced with the ugly possibility that EPA adopted a methodology for each chapter, without explanation, based on the outcome sought in that chapter. This possibility is most potent where EPA rejected MS-ETS similarities to avoid a "cigarette-equivalents" analysis in determining carcinogenicity of ETS exposure. Use of cigarette-equivalents analysis may have lead to a conclusion that ETS is not a Group A carcinogen." It is striking that MS and ETS were similar only where such a conclusion promoted finding ETS a carcinogen." (Underline added.)
2.4 If several years of judicial review produced a 90 page plus Memorandum Opinion that eviscerated EPA's claims about the alleged risks of exposure to tobacco smoke while living in the same residence with a person who smokes, what does that say about the risks if ETS to persons in a separate apartment? If the risks of ETS are statistically zero while living in the same residence with a person who smokes, how can there be bona fide material risk to residents in a separate apartment? The reasonable conclusion by responsible public health officials becomes that the smoking ban in Casa Juanita apartments has nothing to do with bona fide public health issues. It's about promoting personal preference, not putting up one's neighbors doing what is disapproved of. Which raises an interesting question: what will Mr. McLlarky do when his neighbors decide their personal preference is to ban those who strut through the halls at Casa Juanita, flinging mandates at residents?
Not to worry, however. Mr. McLlarky could volunteer for a position in Baghdad on the Weapons of Mass Destruction search team. By doing so he could assure a bunk to sleep in for an unlimited, indefinite period: not only would he be able to apply superior skills at looking for nothing but, like the risks of ETS, the time required to find credible evidence to support special-interest political claims approaches infinity.
2.5 The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration does not agree with alleged health risks of ETS as stated in the 1992 EPA report and by tobacco control advocates. In 2001 OSHA withdrew its proposed 1994 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) regulations that included a nationwide workplace smoking ban, with the support of tobacco control groups such as the American Cancer Society and the American Lung Association.
2.6 In its December 14, 2001 press release, "OSHA Withdraws Indoor Air Proposal With Support Of Anti-Smoking Groups" , OSHA said, in part:
"Assistant Secretary for Occupational Safety and Health John Henshaw announced that OSHA is withdrawing an inactive indoor air quality regulation proposed in 1994. The decision was reached with the support of major anti-smoking public health groups including the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids." (Underline, italic added.)
2.7 OSHA's regulatory action was taken after filing an August 10, 2001 brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals. That brief included the following statements by OSHA:
a.) Page 7: "One study cited in the report found that in general exposure levels were much lower than those in earlier studies, and that ETS in workplaces where smoking was restricted to designated areas were 2 to 8 times less than the levels present in facilities where smoking was not restricted."
b.) Page 8: "In addition, although the participants did not address whether the proposal's residential-analogy method of quantifying risk was sound, they made clear that accurate data on ETS exposures in workplaces would be a fundamental component of such an assessment of the occupational hazard."
c.) Page 8: "The participants found that by 1998, however, new approaches were available that might be used to assess the health effects of exposure to ETS at various levels in the workplace.
d.) Page 8: "In addition, although the participants did not address whether the proposal's residential-analogy method of quantifying risk was sound, they made clear that accurate data on ETS exposures in workplaces would be a fundamental component of such an assessment of the occupational hazard."
e.) Page 9: ". . . it now appears that, contrary to the assumption in the proposal, it may be possible to perform dose-response analysis for the ETS risk assessment. This may allow selection of a permissible exposure level for ETS, something that was not possible at the time of the proposal."
f.) Page 17: "Here, as we have explained above, the proposed rule appears to be based upon outdated information and methodology and its risk estimates are not supported by the weight of evidence now available."
g.) Page 17: "OSHA does not believe that over 74 million workers are exposed to ETS at work at levels equivalent to those faced by a nonsmoking spouse of a smoker at home."
h.) Page 18: "Nor does OSHA believe that issuance of an ETS rule would prevent between 2,234 and 13,723 excess deaths annually, or anything like that."
i.) Page 18: "This potential hazard is not, as ASH's Petition suggests, so egregious as to demand instant action, especially to the exclusion of all other safety and health matters before the agency." (Underline added.)
2.8 OSHA later reiterated its position on ETS. OSHA's position, as stated in its February 24, 2003 "Reiteration Of Existing OSHA Policy In Indoor Air Quality," is that it will not apply a general duty clause to "protect workers" by banning smoking because it has concluded that exposure to ETS constituents does not exceed its Permissible Exposure Limits (PELs) in normal work environments. OSHA said in its reiteration of policy:
"Although OSHA has no regulation that addresses tobacco smoke as a whole, 29 CFR 1910.1000 Air contaminants, limits employee exposure to several of the main chemical components found in tobacco smoke. In normal situations, exposures would not exceed these permissible exposure limits (PELs), and, as a matter of prosecutorial discretion, OSHA will not apply the General Duty Clause to ETS."
2.9 Contrary to what tobacco control advocates falsely claim, the December 1992 EPA report on secondhand smoke confirms OSHA's view that there is a safe Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) for Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) constituents. The 1992 EPA report clearly establishes that there is a known safe level of exposure to Environmental Tobacco Smoke and that report also established that material risk is directly associated with the dose absorbed. The December 1992 EPA report on secondhand smoke addresses "Population Risk of Lung Cancer From Passive Smoking" in its Chapter 6 (a chapter specifically ordered vacated by U.S. District Court judge William O. Osteen) Please see EPACITES.PDF for copies of pages from the EPA report that include the below three quotes:
a.) Page 6-6 of that EPA report says:
"Citing cigarette equivalents calculated in other sources, Vutuc (1984) assumes a range of 0.1 to 1.0 cigarettes per day for ETS exposure. . . . Relative risks for smokers of 0.1 to 1.0 cigarettes per day give a range in relative risk from 1.03 to 1.36. The author concludes that 'as it applies to passive smokers, this range of exposures may be neglected because it has no major effect on lung cancer incidence." (Underline, italic added.)
b.) On page 6-9 that EPA report says:
". . . the excess risk of lung cancer in nonsmokers exposed to ETS is clearly related to the dose absorbed."
c.) The December 1992 EPA report on secondhand smoke also confirms lung cancer risks from other sources that have risk factors higher than ETS. For example, page 5-54 says:
"Cooking with oil was examined by GAO and WUWI, both in China, with positive associations for deep frying (OR ranges of 1.5 - 1.9 and 1.2 - 2.1, respectively, both increasing in frequency of cooking with oil.)"
2.10 In 2005, Science Daily reported about a lung cancer in nonsmokers study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. From Science Daily, March 21, 2005, "Study Examines Role of EGFR Gene Mutations In Lung Cancer Development," about a study published by the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (NCI):
"A new study has found that mutations in either of two genes are involved in the development of lung cancer. One of them is the first known mutation to occur specifically in never smokers, according to a new study in the March 2 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.. . . These findings "support the hypothesis that at least two distinct molecular pathways are involved in the pathogenesis of lung adenocarcinomas, one involving EGFR TK domain mutations and the other involving KRAS gene mutations," the authors write. These results also "suggest that exposure to carcinogens in environmental tobacco smoke may not be the major pathogenic factor involved in the origin of lung cancers in never smokers but that an as-yet-unidentified carcinogen(s) plays an important role." (Underline, italic added.)
In fact, it turns out that ETS is acknowledged by emerging, legitimate science to not be the major pathogenic factor for lung cancer in nonsmokers. The same science now reports other as yet unidentified carcinogens play a role. Mr. McLlarky is invited to take a deep breathe of the other as yet unidentified carcinogen laden air in his apartment, compliments of the Seattle-King County Department of Health and U.S. Housing and Urban Development. It has been said that fools and their money are soon parted. In this case, it appears that Agenda-Afflicted fools and their health are also soon parted. Such is the perilous position that those who support tobacco control's mercantile agenda put themselves in.
Yet, despite the above information about Environmental Tobacco Smoke from credible sources, tobacco control speaks, and the Seattle Times writes, as if a federal judge, OSHA, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute never said a word. The Times publishes Mr. McLlarky's opinion "your smoke is helping to kill me" as if it were fact and without critical review. Agenda-Afflicted public officials and politicians looking to accelerate their career based on a sham agenda we can understand; such behavior is the current-day mother's milk of politics. But a major regional daily omitting any mention of the above information, while blithely saying in print that "a new battlefield over secondhand smoke is emerging" is unconscionable.
Those who would like additional information about Environmental Tobacco Smoke are invited to read my December 2005 commentary "Politics & ETS: Part I, Environmental Tobacco Smoke."
3.0 This unseemly HUD housing situation is created by a mercantile agenda. The beneficiaries are pharmaceutical nicotine distributors, tobacco companies and private foundations. Those who lose through the agenda are states, consumers, taxpayers, and small business.
King County health's tobacco czar, Roger Valdez, is squarely in that agenda, too. See, for example, Mr. Valdez' statements in his February 1, 2006 Letter to the Editor of the Seattle Weekly:
"We have compassion for smokers battling a powerful addiction and are providing education and support for them. Affordable treatment is key: We offer a free nicotine patch program, and we are advocating for important changes in the law to mandate smoking cessation treatment on demand for those with health insurance and offer support for those with no coverage." (Underline added.)
It is important to note that Mr. Valdez states the Seattle-King Department of Public Health offers a free nicotine patch program. Indeed, the department does have such a program. See Washington Quit Line documents, for example. Both the State of Washington and King County are generously compensated for doing so by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. See King County Health 1999 for King County health's historic support for Nicotine Replacement Therapy products-including use by teens-and millions of dollars in representative grants from the foundation.
GlaxoSmithKline is the distributor of NicoDerm CQ patches, Nicorette gum, and Commit lozenges. NicoDerm CQ patches are manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary ALZA Corp. In 2006 Johnson & Johnson bought Pfizer Consumer Healthcare for a reported $16.6 billion, including Nicorette. Perhaps we now understand why pharmaceutical special-interests aggressively fund tobacco control advocates, promote smoking bans and higher cigarette taxes, and support FDA regulation of tobacco.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is the largest single source of funding for tobacco control advocacy since 1992. As of September 30, 2006 stock reports, the foundation was among top five institutional shareholders of Johnson & Johnson, owning 57.5 million shares, then-valued at $3.7 billion. That common stock position may provide a cogent explanation for the foundation's $446 million-plus investment in tobacco control. What is stock in a company that controls two of three principal Nicotine Replacement Therapy products-NicoDerm CQ patches and Nicorette gum-worth when FDA mandates substantively reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes? Of greater importance, how much will taxes on nonsmokers be increased to make up for a half-billion dollars in Washington revenues and tobacco settlement payments, when every persons and every place in the state is "Smoke Free" pursuant to Mr. Valdez' interpretation of consumer's rights?
The Biggest of Big Tobacco, Philip Morris, also supports smoking bans. It does so to increase sales of its smokeless tobacco brands, such as Taboka, and to support the market for its "Smoke Free" Aria nicotine inhaler. Aria was announced in October 2005. Moreover, 2005 Washington legislation increased Philip Morris' profits derived from doing so by decreasing the tax on Other Tobacco Products (OTP) and increasing the tax on cigarettes. Philip Morris reportedly sells its tin of Taboka at the higher cost of cigarettes, then pays the State of Washington the lower Other tobacco Products tax. For those interested in more information about Philip Morris unique relationship to tobacco control please see "Philip Morris & Tobacco Control."
Taxpayers should be alarmed and disgusted with those facts for several reasons: first, taxpayer financed health department employees have been effectively converted to marketing staff for Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline; second, the cost of Nicotine Replacement Therapy products-and therefore costs to taxpayers-is artificially inflated by parity pricing; and third, since nicotine replacement products pay zero excise tax and cigarettes are highly taxed what was tobacco tax income to the state becomes a direct cash subsidy to pharmaceutical special-interests such as Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline that finance tobacco control advocacy. We also observe the perverse phenomenon of tobacco control and its supporters-including folks such as Mr. McLlarky-aggressively imposing policy on "Target" citizens and neighbors that adds cash subsidies to and enhances the market for products manufactured by the biggest of Big Tobacco. Again core intolerants fools and their tax money are soon parted.
The preceding merely proves the point that self-serving intolerants are fundamentally stupid people; they preen in their ignorance while supporting anti-tobacco programs that systematically drain state revenues out the bottom of the public till to corporate income statements, while crying about politician's demands for more tax revenue in the top to finance budget deficits. They deserve the quality of government that they get. Unfortunately, that quality of government also adversely affects normal people's interests, too.
Those who would like additional information regarding tobacco control conflicts-of-interest concerning Nicotine Replacement Therapy products are invited to read my January 14, 2007 commentary "California's Proposition 86: A Review of Voting Patterns and Broader Issues."
In light of the three subjects discussed above, the appropriate response to Valdez' self-serving, opportunistic statements as published in the Seattle Weekly on February 1, 2006 are those penned by David McLain of Seattle and published in Letters to the Editor of the same edition:
"Philip Dawdy's "Big Nanny Is Watching You" [ Jan. 18] is a much-needed commentary in these factious times. It should by now be obvious to a great many people that so-called progressives and modern conservatives are at bottom the same animal. They are statists through and through, and have no compunction about using coercion-the old gun in the ribs-to achieve their particular vision or pet cause. While the right fields calls from Jesus, the left's religion is collectivism, their god the majoritarian broker state that allows them to indulge every authoritarian impulse from the safety of the voting booth. Press them on it and you'll hear all the usual incantations: 'we the people,' 'the common good,' etc. The salve of democracy works wonders on the tender psyche of the mob. Sadly, individual rights have no place in the mix when the mob begins to whinny."
In this case, however, a frightening dimension is added to the civil rights and fiscal responsibility equation: federal and state public officials such as Mr. Turner at HUD and Mr. Valdez in Seattle are the ones inciting the mob, while attorneys general look askance. One is provided with a shuddering reminder of the good 'ol days in the late 1920s and early 1930s for the Ku Klux Clan in Indiana. The KKK in Indiana also inspires hope, however. In short order the Governor and dozens of public officials were convicted of numerous crimes, including bribery and corruption, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
The Seattle Times' tawdry January 16, 2007 news report and this unseemly HUD housing situation are prompted by the majority's alleged personal-preference. In fact, the alleged prefreence is the product of a well-orchestrated, special-interest agenda. It is not by any stretch of one's imagination a spontaneous outcry by HUD residents to demand a total smoking ban in all apartments.
What We Look Forward To
From the Seattle Times, January 16, 2007, "Health Reform Finds Allies," by Tom Hamburger and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar with the Los Angeles Times:
"WASHINGTON - In a new sign of how the political climate is shifting, powerful business interests that once teamed to defeat Democratic health-care overhaul plans are joining with labor unions and other unlikely allies to push proposals for extending medical insurance to millions of Americans. Among the new champions of reform is the trade group representing the nation's leading health-insurance companies - the same industry that developed the "Harry and Louise" television ad campaign that helped turn public opinion against the universal health-care plan developed by President Clinton and then-first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1994. . . . Now, nongovernment coalitions of seemingly strange bedfellows are stepping into the vacuum. Today, the president of the Service Employees International Union, Andrew Stern, will stand with the director of the Business Roundtable, which represents leading U.S. corporations, to announce a new campaign for health reform. On Thursday, private health-insurance companies will join with doctors' organizations and health activist groups on the left to announce a separate plan for universal coverage. 'This week marks a kind of tipping point,' says Karen Ignagni, who represents the health-insurance industry in Washington."
We have a clear indication of where "nongovernment coalitions" that include big business interests will take us with health care. From the Washington Post, November 14, 2006, "Smokers, Obese Should Pay More Health Insurance: Poll," by Kim Dixon:
"CHICAGO (Reuters) - Most Americans believe smokers and obese people should pay more for health insurance . . . Sixty percent of those polled favored higher premiums for smokers while 30 percent felt the obese should pay more. 'When it comes to personal responsibility, consumers increasingly support making people pay more for unhealthy behavior,' said the report in the journal Health Affairs. . . . The rate of uninsured, now nearly 16 percent of Americans, has been climbing for years, driven by consumer demand and escalating prices for prescription drugs and hospital care. About 20 percent of large employers are already giving discounts to workers who do not smoke, according to Helen Darling, president of the National Business Group on Health, which lobbies for corporations on health issues. 'The non-smoker's discount is growing in popularity and I think it is going to grow faster,' she said. As to obesity, 'I think it will be a while before we get to the point where people begin tying a financial discount to something like BMI (body mass index),' she said." (Underline added.)
Looking for a job? Don't bother if you are obese or you smoke. See for example, the august pronouncements of Action on Smoking and Health's (ASH) position on employment "MELBOURNE, FLORIDA, MAY BAN OFF-THE-JOB SMOKING BY EMPLOYEES [02/09/06-1]:"
"ASH Urges City to Act to Save 25% or More in Smoking-Related Costs - Melbourne, Florida, is considering joining a growing number of employers who are insisting that their workers not smoke on or off the job. . . . ASH also cited a very recent CBS-TV Evening News report on this growing trend of employers refusing to hire smokers. The report closed by suggesting that firing employees who smoke may be a 'national model' and a 'new reality.'"
Do you confront child custody issues in a divorce? Action Smoking and Health will gladly show you how to play the tobacco card to "win" as a nonsmoker. See Ash's Child Custody page:"
"Are you involved in a dispute over custody, and your spouse smokes in the presence of your child and/or permits others to do so? Are you separated or divorced, and worried about the health of your child when he or she is with the other parent who smokes in the child's presence? If so, you should know the following:"
Go ahead and play the tobacco card. Just be slim, trim, young and racy while doing so. For every tobacco control advocate who hands you the perfect silver bullet to "win" there is an anti-obesity activist who will be pleased show your spouse how to claim that you being overweight or not serving the proper foods to your children makes you an unfit parent, too. Meanwhile, there will be a host of McLlarky's clucking in dismay about how you could ever "do that" to your children, too. The obvious choice for the court is to order your children into the foster care system while you and your spouse bicker and fling nonsensical agendas at each other. Moreover, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has awarded more than $1 million in Reclaiming Futures grants to the King County superior court to encourage intervention in your family life. That same grant funded court employee will be more than happy to spout the latest anti-tobacco and anti-obesity dogma to the court.
Those who still naively believe that "Targeting" persons who smoke is quite fashionable and very OK would be well-advised to read the entire text of the above articles. Once the idea "Target" any citizen for discrimination on taxes, housing or health care is deemed to be acceptable it predictably and inevitably spreads to other "Target Groups." As the above statements by the National business Group on Health's Helen Darling make abundantly clear, it is only a matter of time until the nonsmoker obese, who expediently stood aside as smokers were targeted, receive their just and well-deserved health insurance, employment, and housing desserts.
Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline have billions to collect hustling Nicorette gum, NicoDerm CQ patches, and Commit lozenges. Moreover, millions in grants to King County from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation must be earned and career bureaucrats like Mr. Valdez have careers to be made. If those economic and career goals require that about 25 percent of the U.S. adult population wind up employed, without health insurance, and homeless it appears to be just more collateral damage in the War on Tobacco. So much for Seattle-King County public health's much-touted compassion "Target" smokers. When we add one-third of the population who are allegedly obese and do not smoke we approach 50 percent of the US adult population defined as targets.
Citizens and consumers would be well-advised to consider that the interests of those whose livelihoods or personal preference depend on turning constituents and neighbors into Conditional Citizens-those whose right to fully participate in society is presumed to be contingent on bowing to the will of the special-interest corporate mob-can never be satisfied. We have watched anti-tobacco expand to now include anti-obesity. We heard anti-tobacco say that it was not interested in smoking bans for bars when it passed its smoking bans for offices in 1994. Having observed the expansion of smoking bans to include bars, some still believed that Mr. Valdez was not interested in a residential smoking ban when he began enforcing I-901 a year ago. Today, we look back at smoking bans in government buildings, offices, bars, and private residences.
We also watch as the anti-tobacco agenda grows from discriminatory taxation and shunning through bans of "Target" smokers, only to find that the overweight are treated the same with anti-obesity. We also watch as the punitive measures applied to Conditional Citizens now expand from taxes and bans to include threats to employment, health insurance and child custody.
What We're Up Against
Mussolini defined fascism as the merging of state and corporate interests. Nongovernment coalitions-such as those mentioned in the Los Angeles Times article about health insurance-are a clear example of that phenomenon. Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline are members of Ms. Darling's National Business Group no Health, as are other Fortune 500 companies. If there is anything that Governor Gregoire's 1998 tobacco Master Settlement Agreement has taught we the people it is that when big business and the usual politicians sit at the same table they will predictably "negotiate" away the legitimate interests of consumers and taxpayers to benefit themselves.
Given the present trend, Mr. McLlarky and his fellow public housing intolerants will ultimately show up at a tent city for normal folks. Predictably, most residents of that make-shift homeless shelter will be persons who smoke. Don't need to worry about obesity in that camp, some residents will not have had a decent meal for days. When Mr. McLlarky asks "Hey, buddy, can you spare a dime?" he will be in for a reality check. Normal people will respond, "Sorry, dude, I already gave $2.02 at the smoke shop, to finance your tax free-ride." He will ask "Can you share a tent for the night?" Those who remember his January 2007 nannyesque picture in the Seattle Times will say, "Majority rules, dumb ass. Butt out." In short order, the core intolerants who helped bring this cultural, public health, and fiscal responsibility devastation on we the people will find themselves out in the cold, too.
Which goes to prove the point that adversity and hardship inevitably lead to growth of one's soul. Perhaps one day spiritual-delinquent intolerants will progress beyond the infant soul stage of "me first, screw you on yours," too. The response required for them to do so appears to be that toddler tantrums inevitably lead to a stern parental reality check.
The foregoing being a kinder, gentler response compared to what Norwegians did to the Quislings, the French visited on the Vichy, and the Dutch blessed members of the national socialist NSB, after little Adolph's troops were defeated. Good little Germans then stood in the ashes of Berlin, whining about why this happened to them. It happened because good Germans expediently stood aside and said nothing when Jews were banned from swimming pools "for public health reasons." It happened because many Germans participated in Crystal Night to eliminate competing shops. It happened because some Germans turned their Jewish neighbors in to the Gestapo to be rewarded with the Jew's better apartment. It happened because the German majority found it profitable or self-fulfilling to go along with National Socialist mob's party line. And it happened because German media and reporters dutifully reported about the Fuhrer's marvelous social programs without critical thought or meaningful review. Meanwhile, the product of that system-an ever-expanding group of citizens deemed to have "lives not worth living" for increasing-more-bizarre "scientific" reasons-were systematically herded into the Zyklon B showers. The only apparent complaint being that crematorium workers were annoyed the Fuhrer did not publish a solution that would mandate corpses walk themselves from the gas chambers to crematorium.
General Eisenhower provided the appropriate response: he ordered that local Germans bury the dead in camps near their towns, refusing to permit American troops who liberated those cities and villages participate in such a filthy and dishonoring task. How soon we forget.
Hopefully, we the American people will be able to learn from mistakes of the past. Mr. McLlarky and his apparently Agenda-Afflicted compatriots are indeed fortunate that smokers tend to be passive and accommodating folks. One profoundly hopes that the current cattle-prodding of "Targets" into conformance with corporate mercantile agendas does not lead to a response-in-kind that is equally dismissive of the well-being of those who promote and participate in such schemes. We are heading for a cultural melt-down at the hands of small-minded bigots. We the people must pull together to back away from the precipice of hate-inspired, intolerance-mongering Social Marketing dogma.
We grow in spirit as individuals and together as a people when we commit ourselves to ideals that are greater than our personal interests. The solution to this public policy malaise is simple for those with the courage and integrity to examine their own hearts and minds. It is eloquently stated on pages by Denise Breton and Stephen Lehman on pages 99-103 in their fine work, "The Mystic Heart of Justice." Excerpts from those pages of that work appear below.
"Because the principle of wholeness differs radically from our ordinary categories, it challenges us to rethink who we are from the ground up. We're called to rethink not only our nature but, even more, the dynamics of our existence, namely, that we're not separate beings, however much we appear to be.
We're beings of connectedness, engaged with all sorts of systems that operate in and around us.
Claiming our connected nature starts with recognizing our connectedness: observing how we participate in family systems, educational systems, economic systems, work systems, religious systems, media systems, political systems.
We're both products of all these different systems and changers of them.
Exploiting one part for the benefit of another cannot, therefore, be a strategy in systems without weakening and ultimately destroying the whole.
In the short term, dominator methods can seem successful, but in the long term they fail. They're ignorant of how things got to be the way they are because of the workings of systems.
System imbalances must be righted, or system ills go uncorrected. Imbalances make problems multiply, until systems fail, and we with them."
Excerpted from "The Mystic Heart of Justice," Chrysalis Books
Denise Breton and Stephen Lehman, Pages 99 - 103
Reprinted By Permission of Chrysalis Books
It seems to me that a choice about which path we the people will follow, that amply illustrated by Mr. Valdez above or that eloquently defined by Breton and Lehman, is in order.
Norman E. Kjono