Jon Hemminghaus will not equivocate, dissemble, or flaccidly whine about fairness. He knows what’s right and he is standing up for himself.
The Illinois man is nothing if not up-front in his disdain for the state-wide smoking law that essentially bans smoking everywhere the public may enter. His opinion of the law is simplicity itself: My Place, My Choice, Smoking Allowed. His place is his boat fiberglass repair shop and, while he doesn’t smoke himself, he has a conviction that since he bought and paid for the business he decides whether those who enter it are allowed to smoke or not, not the state of Illinois.

According to the Franklin-Williamson Bi-County Health Department tobacco prevention coördinator an "educational" letter is sent to a non-complying business when a complaint is filed. A second complaint calls for a second warning letter and perhaps a visit to the establishment. A third complaint makes the establishment subject to citation, which could include a fine. Mr. Hemminghaus has obliged the smoke police by inviting the public in for a smoke and by filing a complaint against himself.

"If they want to come write me a fine, they can write it. But I won’t pay it. I don’t think they will ever collect one," he says. He characterizes his "smoke-in" as a peaceful demonstration that is allowed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The smoking ban in Illinois would be discarded if enough business owners, including those of bars and restaurants, refused to comply. The public does not consider this issue important in the least and the only parties that are interested are those in the pay of the tobacco control industry. These parties, however, do have organization and financing, and thus the ears of legislators who, although unable to solve the problems people do care about, are too often adamantly determined to wipe out the last vestiges of freedom.

Jon Hemminghaus, despite his phlegmatic style, is a brave man. He has identified an immoral imposition rammed down on law-abiding citizens by an elite that long ago lost its tether to the real world of working people. He is taking action to defend himself and ultimately all of us. Jon Hemminghaus deserves admiration, and even more importantly, emulation.



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