SLPD OpEd 5/21/2010: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of smokers”

In an OpEd on page 17 of Thursday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch Jamie Allman, who is a radio talk show host, prattles on somewhat mindlessly about those of us who are “smoking ban addicts” and “fanatics.” In the comments following the on-line version he gets some support from the usual quarters, such as Bill Hannegan, but there was nothing new there. I posted the following critique of Allman’s lame OpEd in the early hours of Friday morning:

Jamie Allman’s piece is so biased and factually inaccurate it’s hard to believe he’s trying to be in the least bit objective. Those of us who support smoke-free air are not fanatics, as he claims, any more than if we were concerned about food safety, or clean drinking water, which are things we take for granted in society, but which was not always the case.
Here are the unfounded arguments he uses, some copied from the pro-smoking playbook:

1. “We are fanatics….” Because we want to be protected from harmful secondhand smoke, which is certainly no less of a public nuisance than public littering which is also not allowed, and by some measures, a much greater threat to public health and welfare.

2. “Fully law-abiding proprietors of restaurants and bars” are off-limits to such regulation. What a thoroughly confusing and absurd statement. If a law requires them to be smoke-free then they must abide by that regulation, just like any other law.

3. “People don’t have the right to eat or drink anywhere they want.” That would seem to support the purpose of laws to protect the public and private employees from secondhand smoke. But in the very next sentence, Allman writes:

4. “If you don’t like smoke don’t spend your money there.” The laissez faire approach of the Libertarian to hazards posed by secondhand smoke.
Extending this argument: If you don’t like to eat contaminated food don’t eat at restaurants serving contaminated food. And don’t work for a restaurant with unsafe working conditions. It’s not government’s job to fix these things!
Allman repeats this canard later when he writes that “if you don’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke as an employee, then turn down the job.”

5. The 2006 Surgeon General’s report “suggests that even chronic exposure to secondhand smoke still only increases heart disease and cancer risks at most by 30 percent.” But according to the Forward from that report, of which Allman is so dismissive, that 30% increase “kills more than 3,000 adult nonsmokers from lung cancer, approximately 46,000 from coronary heart disease, and an estimated 430 newborns from sudden infant death syndrome.”

6. Allman asked “Do employees have the right to be free of workplace hazards? Yes. So why don’t smoking ban addicts push to make smoking an Occupational Safety and Health Administration violation.” Allman claims it’s because they “don’t have the evidence to make the case.”
The reality, as I know from direct knowledge of a senior scientist working on this issue at the time, is that some influential groups favoring the removal of secondhand smoke from private workplaces became convinced that OSHA’s final rule would be weaker than laws being enacted at the local level, yet would supersede them. Eventually, those groups agitated against the rule-making, which was quietly dropped after the Bush administration took office.

Martin Pion, President, Missouri GASP
http://www.mogasp.wordpress.com

Here’s the OpEd by Allman:

Life, liberty and the pursuit of smokers

Jamie Allman


jamie allman

05/20/2010

The next time I wander into a 7-Eleven in pursuit of my six-pack of Bud Light, I’m going to try not wearing any shoes. After all I don’t like to wear shoes, and I have the right to buy my beer anywhere I feel like it. No shoes, no shirt, no service? No way.

Welcome to the new world order in the eyes of smoking ban addicts.

St. Louis County already passed a smoking ban.

St. Charles County is about to put a ban on the November ballot.

And ban fanatics across the state are pushing for a statewide smoking ban.

In the world of smoking ban addicts, they have the right to adjust their world in any fashion they see fit to accommodate their whims. Choice? Good for them, not for others. I’m surprised they’re not walking into bars and turning down the volume on the jukebox. I’m surprised they’re not adding mustard to every hamburger they see served at the restaurant.

The fact is smoking bans have no business on the ballot in the first place. Neither politicians nor people have any business meddling in the affairs of fully law-abiding proprietors of restaurants and bars.

People don’t have the right to eat or drink anywhere they want.

If you don’t like smoke, don’t spend your money there.

I don’t take my family anywhere near establishments that allow smoking. But my involvement in the way a business operates stops there — at my wallet.

There’s an easy way to spot the disingenuousness of the smoking ban addicts.

Smoking ban cheerleaders argue that if we can stop restaurants from entertaining roaches and rats then we can stop people from smoking in restaurants too.

But roaches and rats are health code violations. If the smoking ban addicts are so confident about the dangers of smoke in a bar or restaurant, why don’t they push for it to be a health code violation?

Here’s why: despite the copious amounts of evidence that secondhand smoke can be a hazard, there’s not enough of it to actually take the honest approach to turn it into a health code violation.

All studies related to the dangers of secondhand smoke point to long-term and chronic exposure and don’t draw any conclusions of how much danger you are in while spending an hour eating your chicken wings.

Even the most prominent study on the effects of so called “environmental tobacco smoke,” as the 2006 Surgeon General’s report called it, suggests that even chronic exposure to secondhand smoke still only increases heart disease and cancer risks at most by 30 percent.

So instead of actually doing the dirty work of proving their case, the cowardly smoking ban addicts rely on emotion rather than true fact. And, more often than not, they win.

That’s because they know many citizens don’t care as much about liberty as much as they care about their own narrow self interests.

Your kid has asthma, so the freedom of a person who built his business using his entire life savings is of no concern.

You don’t like your new jeans to smell like smoke when you get home, so the interests of the couple who built their lives around running the corner bar and who are just getting by don’t matter.

The hard reality is it’s none of your business how a business chooses to operate as long as it’s abiding by civil rights and health laws. The hard reality is it’s not all about you.

When confronted with common sense, liberty and facts, smoking ban addicts usually will fall back on using restaurant and bar employees as their pawns. They claim that smoking is a hazard to the employees of restaurants and bars that allow smoking. But if you don’t want to be exposed to secondhand smoke as an employee, then turn down the job. Do employees have the right to be free from workplace hazards? Yes. So why don’t the smoking ban addicts push to make smoking an Occupational Safety and Health Administration violation? Again, it’s because they don’t have the evidence to make the case.

What’s next from the smoking suffragettes? A ban on fatty foods? A ban on high-cholesterol butter? I can see it now: Grandpa’s cholesterol levels are high so all restaurants must lower their cholesterol levels.

Restaurant and bar owners know more than anyone how to make a buck. Those who extinguish smoking on their own do so weighing its effect on profits. Those who allow smoking do the same kind of math.

More power to the restaurants who have decided on their own to ban smoking. Those are the restaurants where I’m taking the kids.

Shame on the lazy politicians playing Pontius Pilate with the livelihoods of hard-working business owners. They are the ones I will be rejecting come election time.

Jamie Allman is host of “Allman in the Morning” on KFTK-97.1 FM Talk radio.

11 responses to “SLPD OpEd 5/21/2010: “Life, liberty and the pursuit of smokers”

  1. MARLENE BAKKEN

    Proper signage is all that’s needed. Smokers Welcome, Non-Smokers Welcome, Anti-Smokers Buy Your Own Business! Even the blind can then tell if there will be smoke inside if it’s written in braille.The seeing public can see smoke, they don’t need the health dept which protects against unseen dangers. Smoke free advocates try to sell the success of smoke free initiatives and laws but never tell of the amount of money the states lose, nor do they report truthfully of the damage it causes to business owners. There is NO business without an owner!
    Vicki McKenna of Milwaukee News/Talk 1130 took up the Kenosha WI smoking ban issue as well as Smoke Free WI’s underhanded tactics. She did an excellent job of putting the smoke-free movement in the crosshairs and telling it how it is. She addresses the absolute corruption of the smoking bans.
    http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/18227/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/18227/podcast/MILWAUKEE-WI/WISN-AM/vm%208-11%20hour%202%20part%202.mp3?CPROG=PCAST&MARKET=MILWAUKEE-WI&NG_FORMAT=newstalk&SITE_ID=1176&STATION_ID=WISN-AM&PCAST_AUTHOR=WISN,_Milwaukee&PCAST_CAT=Talk&PCAST_TITLE=The_Vicki_McKenna_Show

  2. Sheila Martin

    Martin is a fanatic, and Jamie is 100% correct. The fanatics just cannot allow adults to make their own choices. They must control, that’s what trips their trigger. I have yet to meet a fanatic who admitted it. “Do what I say!!!!!” That is the mantra of the fanatics. Personal choice and personal responsibility. Private property rights, and free enterprise. What happened to my country? Fanatics, that’s what.

  3. Linda Hubbard

    Mr Pion you have my sympathy and I respect you admitting that you lack the intelligence to care for yourself and your own health care. I do find it quite amazing though yhay people like you ctually ask governments to officially declare you too ignorant to decide for yourself at the privately owned business owners door whether to enter or not enter based on the owners smoking permitted or not permitted decision, you must have failed the meaning of enter and don’t enter in school. Your illness is destructive to the free society, meaning the rest of us who are capable of deciding for ourselves at the owners door.

    Again, you have my sympathy, I truly hope you recover from your government independent illness

  4. Linda, I really appreciate your concern for my health. With Healthcare Reform, hopefully I can count on the government for better and cheaper health care in the future too, as can you.

    • MARLENE BAKKEN

      Yes, you can count on the government. Just look at the Arizona border, Cash for Clunkers, the SCHIP bill that smokers pay for, that Obama has now said he won’t share back to the citizens of the states that pay it in the first place, the states must now raise their own taxes to pay for it, the banks, GM, the list goes on and on. You go ahead. I, like freedom lovers everywhere, will take care of ourselves under ridicule (like Arizona), and HOPE the government stays out of our lives!

  5. Mr Pion, you avoided the fact that you need nanny government to think for you, and then admit you want the nanny to take care of you, grow up and become independent, less government is better, too much government is the path to dictatorship as history as shown us.

    I certainly will not be ruled by the RWJF and its anti smoking cartel, RWJF was founded by J&J whose family of companies market their own nicotine after funding smoking bans. The gig is up, its all about money, profits, and will not be tolerated.

    I believe in self ownership so big pharma can go to…well you know where. So which anti smoking cartel funnels the rwjf bucks to your klan?

    • Linda, You’ve been brainwashed by the smoking propagandists. Missouri GASP is a small totally voluntary organization that gets no money from any cartel or business organization, and certainly not from the RWJF (I wish we did!). It’s been in existence for 25 years and bases what it does on the best science available. I personally don’t believe in big government or small government: I believe in GOOD government. And one of its most important roles is protecting the public health and welfare. That’s what this is all about.

  6. Mr Pion;

    As per your comment

    ” 1. “We are fanatics….” Because we want to be protected from harmful secondhand smoke, which is certainly no less of a public nuisance than public littering which is also not allowed, and by some measures, a much greater threat to public health and welfare.”

    You are referring to public littering which is by definition public property. There are no laws forbidding you from throwing your candy wrapers on the bar room floor. That is up to the owner. How many peanut bars have you been to where the floor is covered with shells. You compleatly miss the distinction between public property and an invitation onto private property. Public property you have a right to access, private you are subject to the rules set by the owner.

    mogasp: Good point, Mr. Keith! A better comparison would have been the broader definition of public nuisances, which gives the City of St. Louis, for example, “broad powers of inspection and enforcement.” [ref. Chapter 11.58 NUISANCES: PART I. ABATEMENT]

    Then you go on to say;

    4. “If you don’t like smoke don’t spend your money there.” The laissez faire approach of the Libertarian to hazards posed by secondhand smoke.
    Extending this argument: If you don’t like to eat contaminated food don’t eat at restaurants serving contaminated food. And don’t work for a restaurant with unsafe working conditions.

    You fail to mention that the smoke from the cooking meats and the cooking oils have the same health risks as second hand smoke do we ban public cooking? Contaminated foods? Please that is such a lame agument that it is hardly worth responding too. Can you tell by walking into an establishment that they serve cpmtaminated food? Of course you do understand the risk of eating under cooked meat, understanding that risk you are still allowed to order your steak tar tar or sushi, or order them rare. In a free society it is up to the individual to decide what risks are acceptable.

    Then we get to the fun stuff.

    5. The 2006 Surgeon General’s report “suggests that even chronic exposure to secondhand smoke still only increases heart disease and cancer risks at most by 30 percent.” But according to the Forward from that report, of which Allman is so dismissive, that 30% increase “kills more than 3,000 adult nonsmokers from lung cancer, approximately 46,000 from coronary heart disease, and an estimated 430 newborns from sudden infant death syndrome.”

    Ah yes a report written by the same activist that got caught faking the 1992 EPA report using that same 3000 number that has not changed in 20 years. Tobacco control has made the claim that if you repeat the same methodology many times that it legitimitizes very weak statistical association. Please Mr Pion show us all of the causes of diseases that have been proven with equally low statistical significance. Two or three will suffice. Lacking that show us what is so mystical about tobacco smoke that defies scientific convention. The Surgeon General’s report also made the wild claim that there is no safe level of tobacco smoke which implies The linear no-threshold model (LNT) is a model of the damage caused by ionizing radiation which presupposes that the response is linear (i.e., directly proportional to the dose) at all dose levels. Thus LNT asserts that there is no threshold of exposure below which the response ceases to be linear.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_no-threshold_model Please show us all of those linear dose response curves and not just propaganda put forth by anti-smoking zellots.

  7. Horacio Prada

    Government is suppossed to protect the people from harm. That’s why we have tornado warning systems. The CDC and the Surgeon General have said for decades that smoke is TOXIC. The warning should be spread far and wide, just like tornado and hurricane warnings, because smoke KILLS just the same.

  8. MARLENE BAKKEN

    Horatio: Governments job is NOT to protect the people from themselves, nor is it to provide welfare as Mr. Pion believes. You can get a copy of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights online.
    The surgeon general based it’s ideology of toxic smoke on an EPA report that was ruled on as fraudulent by a federal judge. The surgeon generals report is then also fraudulent. The surgeon general did not have to testify under oath to the validity of his claim. If you tell a lie enough, people will eventually fall for it. If you are so afraid of whiffs of cigarette smoke, you better start banning firefighters to protect them from their jobs!

  9. Jason Vander Weele

    I wonder if Jamie knows that the “No shoes, no shirt, no service” is not a health-regulation. It is simply a business-owner self-induced policy. There is no law regarding customers wearing shoes into businesses. Given that, I’m not quite sure how his opening relates to the rest of his article.

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