January 26 2005
An Open Letter to the Tax Paying Voters of Minnesota
For many years you have been exposed to pyramiding information about the evil of smoking and the danger of Second Hand Smoke (SHS).This information has been provided by organizations such as the American Lung Association, National Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the World Health Organization. The self anointed gurus of smoking and SHS, Stanton Glantz and James Repace have also contributed to the fray. For the same number of years this information has been based on misinformation, half truths, lies, junk science, faulty statistics, and computer generated surveys designed to have predetermined outcomes in mind. The funding for the campaign has been provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Johnson & Johnson), the “Legal” drug cartels (Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK), Pfizer, et. al.), and funds that have been in effect extorted from the tobacco industry.
It is time that you, the tax paying and voting public, should know the truth about the anti-smoking campaign. To begin, it must first be understood that it is totally immaterial whether you smoke or not. It is totally immaterial whether you are bothered by the smell of SHS or not. It is totally immaterial whether health concerns are real or not. The only important issues concerning smoking bans are how they affect private property rights, personal freedoms, and the economic impact on businesses, their employees, the state budget, and you the taxpayer.
The history of the anti-smoking campaign first began with a “study” done by the EPA which stated 53,000 deaths a year could be attributed to SHS. The only problem with this is that the EPA had not even done the “study” at the time of their announcement. When they finally did the “study” they had to revise their figure to only 3,000 deaths per year that could be blamed on SHS. However, this figure too was a lie. Although it was ultimately discovered these 3,000 deaths could not be blamed on any specific cause, the number took on a life of its own, especially among the organizations mentioned at the beginning of this article. It took the ruling of Federal Judge William L. Osteen, on July 17, 1998 to officially vacate the findings of the EPA and to point out that this number was being used to deliberately harm the legitimate business activities of the tobacco industry. Osteen further stated, “The EPA disregarded information and made findings on selective information…did not disseminate significant epidemiologic information; deviated from its Risk Assessment Guidelines; failed to disclose important findings and reasoning and left significant questions without answers.”
Other procedural issues were also adjudicated by Osteen. Those issues were overturned on appeal, but not the findings concerning the EPA fraud. As to the EPA “study” itself, it must be noted that did not even do a study. What the EPA did do was called a META survey, in which they took several previously done studies and compiled their various data to come up with seriously flawed results.
The WHO also ran the second largest study (short by only 3 people from being the largest) on the effects of SHS. When the study’s final tabulated results did not produce the results they expected, the WHO attempted to bury the entire report. Several reporters from England got wind of this and demanded the WHO to publish the report which they did under great duress. The results of their study showed NO measurable ill effects to be caused by SHS in any of the scenarios they tested. There was one area in which SHS did play a prominent part and the results were astounding. It was determined that adult children who came from homes where both parents smoked, had a 22% better chance of NOT, I repeat NOT, getting lung cancer than did the adult children who came from homes where both parents did not smoke.
In spite of the lies told by the EPA and the lack of any definitive evidence from the WHO report, the anti-smoke groups have continued with their “Reign of Scare”. For better than 20 years they have piled lie upon lie, deceit upon deceit and have fought to forward their agenda that is anti-business and anti-American. They now tell us that over 400,000 Americans die prematurely every year because of smoking. What they don’t tell you is that virtually all of these smokers who die are at an age where death is a normal occurrence. They summarily conclude that if a person smokes, his death must be premature. While the number of smokers has decreased by about 50% in the past 30 years, the percentage of deaths from lung, heart, or cancer illnesses has remained relatively unchanged. Logic dictates that if there has been a significant decrease in smoking it would stand to reason that there should be some proportionate drop in the percentages of deaths caused by these illnesses. No such decreases have occurred. Would it not therefore stand to reason that smoking and SHS do not have any relationship with these diseases?
In February 2, 2000 the highly respected Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was asked to do a study concerning the effects of SHS on restaurant and bar workers. ORNL is a DOE multi-program research facility managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corporation. Their results showed the exposure to SHS particulates to be far lower than claimed by the EPA. These numbers were also well below the acceptable limits as established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Among their findings ORNL further stated, “Exposures to environmental tobacco smoke may be lower than earlier studies indicated for bartenders, waiters and waitresses. The threat of secondhand smoke has been greatly exaggerated. Claims that SHS cause as many as 65,000 early deaths in the US each year have been widely debunked as junk science. All studies failed to find second hand smoke to be a significant health risk.” The fact that this research was funded by the Center for Indoor Air Research, who was later identified to be requesting the research for the tobacco industry, brought down the wrath of the anti-smoking establishment. It was their position that any study funded by the tobacco industry had to be full of falsehoods and lies. It mattered not that the ORNL would not risk ruining their outstanding reputation by publishing false information. The anti-smoking groups did not apply the same high standards of integrity to themselves, however.
For many years they have been receiving funding from the many pharmaceuticals that produce various smoking cessation nostrums. While the anti-smoke do-gooders are campaigning for stricter bans and higher cigarette taxes, the pharmaceuticals are reaping ever greater profits. The reason for this is simple. The real cost of cigarettes should be about $10.00 a carton based on former normal tax rates. However, through repressive and outrageous tax increments by government, the cost of cigarettes has risen to figures of between $20.00 and $75.00 per carton. The cost of smoking cessation products have risen as well. Today such products sell from $44.00 to over $90.00 per package.
The main difference is that the cost of cigarettes is tied primarily to taxes, while the cost of pharmaceutical products is tied directly to obscene price gouging and profit taking. Many people who think they should quit will buy these nostrums only to find out they are only changing one nicotine habit for another nicotine habit. The difference between the two products is the means by which nicotine is being delivered. The biggest difference to the states’ legislatures and the tax paying public is that there are no taxes being collected from these “legal” drug cartels. As taxes continue to rise, the base of cigarette purchasers will diminish. Eventually the tax rates will be astronomical, but the amount collected will be miniscule. The pharmaceutical companies will be collecting this “tax money” as profits for themselves.
Smoking bans have been enacted in several states now. In virtually every case restaurant and bar businesses have been hurt substantially. Sales have dropped of dramatically, employees have had to be fired or laid off, and some businesses have been forced to close. The Martinets of anti-smoke have quickly countered by stating “their” statistics have shown the opposite to be true. Of course what they again hide from the public is that they have padded their numbers with food and liquor sales that come from businesses that operate as “drive thru’s” or “carry out’s”. The anecdotal evidence of real businesses tells the sad truth of ruined enterprises and lives.
There is also a far darker dimension to the damage caused by smoking bans. In the past year since this tracking started, over 39 individuals have suffered beatings, robbery, rape, wounds from deadly weapons, and even death as a direct result from the fall out of smoking bans. I am talking about real people, with real addresses, and real families. I am talking about real people who chose to exercise their absolute right to use a legal product in a legal fashion. Is it any wonder that such actions occur when you have people like John Banzhaf, President of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), asserting on his web site that people should randomly lace packs of cigarettes with cyanide as a warning to all smokers. Clearly, if these bans continue on like a run-a-way train, many more lives will be damaged or lost.
Smoking ban proponents would equate such bans as being the same as laws that are passed to maintain kitchen sanitation. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sanitation issues in the kitchen are predicated on a clear cut understanding of how germs and bacteria can develop and the best methods of destroying them. In that the general public is not necessarily aware of many sanitary concerns they rely on the Board of Health through periodic inspections to determine that sanitation standards and procedures are maintained. Because of this the public feels secure that their health is being properly protected. Smoking and smoke do not create a health issue of which the public is unaware. Those who feel their health could be harmed by smoking do not have to patronize establishments where smoking is allowed. Conversely, those who look on the smoking issue as misguided do gooderism will continue going to their favorite restaurant or bar.
Many people claim they want smoking bans because the smell of smoke offends them. Quite honestly both smokers and non smokers can be of the same opinion. No one likes stale air of any kind. However with today’s modern air filtration systems stale air no longer has to be a problem. These systems will filter not only odors but also various particulates found in tobacco smoke. James Repace, the self anointed guru of second hand smoke stated, “Winds of 300-700 MPH are needed to blow second hand smoke away.” The fact that this statement is so outrageous, it is dumbfounding that any intelligent person would accept it as true. Yet it is an often quoted remark that has developed a life of its own. The fact still remains that modern filtration systems will reduce particulate levels to well below OSHA standards.
Many people argue that a state wide ban will “level the playing field”, in that those places that choose to be smoke free will be able to compete better in the marketplace if everyone is smoke free. This is just another piece of nonsense that falls apart under close scrutiny. There are already well over 70% of food service establishments that are smoke free and most of them do operate successfully. A smoking ban will not help them in the least. Since smokers do not patronize them now, they will not start to do so if a ban is enacted. Smokers will continue to go to their favorite places, but they will go less frequently, they will purchase less when they do go and they will also spend less time. This fact has been proven over and over again in areas where bans have already been established. The ultimate reduction of revenues will cost jobs, cause the actual closing of many businesses, and ultimately lower tax revenues for the state.
Of all the damage that is being caused by smoking bans, the worst is the damage being done to the Constitution of the United States of America. The Constitution protects property rights above all other rights, yet we have state legislatures consistently passing smoking bans that violate this very right. In so doing, they also are trampling on our personal freedoms of choice and expression. As Ayn Rand put it, "The idea that 'the public interest' supersedes private interests and rights can have but one meaning: that the interests and rights of some individuals take precedence over the interests and rights of others." Our legislators would tell you that this is a health issue that they are doing it for the benefit of our children, and that non-smokers have rights too. This sophomoric sophistry would be laughable were it not for the fact that these same arguments were used, with tragic consequences, almost 70 years ago in another country.
That country was Germany and the chief architects of their smoking ban was Chancellor Adolph Hitler and Propaganda Minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels. In Hitler’s Mein Kampf he wrote, "The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people." In writing about the holocaust, Rabbi Daniel Lapin noted that Hitler believed “that as long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation…. In the name of the children, incursions into the private lives of American citizens have been made that (the) Nazis would have gazed at with open mouthed admiration.” Does “we have to do it for the children”, sound familiar? In promoting the smoking ban of the Third Reich, Dr. Goebbels made good use of his own idea that, “If you tell a lie long enough, it becomes the new truth.” It was these two concepts that allowed the German government to forward their smoking ban and later, their far more infamous deeds of social engineering.
This quote from C.S. Lewis sums it up pretty well, "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep; his cupidity may at some point be satiated: but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”
Robert Hayes Halfpenny
Minnesotans against Smoking Bans