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“Tell me: Why are the pro-tobacco guys almost always so much more energized?”
I posed the above question to members and supporters of Missouri GASP some monts ago after noting the volume of responses to a mogasp blog from opponents of smoke-free air. I received a detailed reply from Daniel K. Duncan, Director of Community Services at the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA-St. Louis).
It’s apropros, given the latest twist in the saga of efforts to obtain comprehensive smoke-free air in O’Fallon, Missouri, where opponents have announced plans to try and overturn the recently-approved law despite it having garnered nearly three-fourths of the vote in the April 5 election and before it has even taken effect.
Below is pasted a report by Mark Schlinkmann in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, followed by Dan Duncan’s observations.
BY MARK SCHLINKMANN • firstname.lastname@example.org > 636-255-7203 | Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 6:16 pm | Comments (104 as of April 21, 2011, 1:49 pm)
O’FALLON, Mo. • Just 15 days after voters passed a comprehensive smoking ban, opponents on Wednesday disclosed plans to gather signatures to spur another election on the issue.
A group called Repeal The Ban notified the city of its intention to petition for a referendum on the ban at a special election in November.
The ban – covering bars, restaurants and other indoor public places in St. Charles County’s largest city – is scheduled to take effect June 16. Supporters got it on the ballot by petition as well.
None of the three people listed on the repeal group’s paperwork submitted to the city – Carrie Ellis, Roman Bettag and Marina Bishop – could be reached for comment Wednesday.
The ban, put on the ballot by a group called Smoke-Free O’Fallon, was approved by more than 72 percent of voters in the April 5 election.
He has said he would try to get the council to change the ban to allow more exemptions.
Under the city charter, petitioners for a referendum or an initiative law at special elections must get more signatures than those seeking a vote at a regular election such as the one earlier this month.
Dan Duncan, NCADA-St. Louis, submitted the following comment:You have asked why there’s so much stronger a response from those against smoke-free legislation as opposed to those who support smoke-free legislation efforts.
For decades we have seen the exact same phenomenon as it relates to any substance of abuse or addiction, whether it be tobacco, alcohol or illicit drugs.
Why is this?
I think it pertains to the dynamic of denial and the self-protection that is part and parcel of any addiction. This self-protection mechanism is how an addiction survives. Challenge any kind of
addiction in any way and you can expect a strong, passionate (for lack of a better word) response. It doesn’t necessarily mean that those who support efforts to address addictions are less passionate, it’s just that there is not such an immediate or close perception of attack on something they want or need to perpetuate.
Same thing essentially pertains to greed. Attack greed and see what happens. The individual who has greed and feels they have something to lose (that being money) is likewise going to push back if you do anything that might in any way cause them to have or generate less money. Protect the supply applies here, as well.
I would say there are three basic groups or ‘types’ of individuals who are going to protest smoke-free efforts, that would be:
1) those addicted to nicotine
2) those who make money off of those addicted to nicotine
3) those individuals who genuinely feel their overall ‘rights’ are being attacked (although it’s obvious some of the addicted or those making money off the addicted will use the ‘rights’ ploy as a means to gen up rancor and support).
There are many supporters who desire smoking not just be diminished, but to disappear or go away entirely. But are their passions so inflamed that they’re going to show up to testify, write letters to newspaper editors or blog about it? Most will not.
They will, however, express their support if given the opportunity to cast a vote.
Daniel K. Duncan, LCSW
Director of Community Services
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) – St. Louis Area