Letter to the Editor, Arkansas City Traveler, Thursday, June 18, 2009

If propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions and manipulate cognitions, then that is what we are seeing in our midst. There is a minority group attempting to direct your thinking and behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of their agenda.

The Clean Air Cowley County Coalition started off with a State & Federally funded PowerPoint wildly proclaiming that, "SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is caused by second-hand smoke." But, according to the AMA, no one knows what causes SIDS. So either the so-called CACCC knows something the AMA doesn't or their statement is pure misinformation inteended to foment the public to draw irrational and unfounded conclusions.

The CACCC came armed with government-speak taxpayer funded, propagandist information from Topeka intent on forcing their agenda on legitimate private businesses by coercing and intimidating Commissioners to pass laws that would have a detrimental affect on them. That is a violation of RICO (the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act). This law makes it illegal for organizations to profit from any legitimate business operations at their unwitting expense.

Right now in Ark City, there is already no smoking in any public building, public school, private school, Church, or healthcare facility. Although there may be one office or other workplace here or there that allows smoking, there are still plenty of other retail stores, grocery stores, convenience stores, car dealerships, and radio stations. You see, this law would affect those places of business too and not just restaurants and bars. If an owner of a business chooses to run their business a certain way, isn't that their prerogative? Well, at least it should be. Many of these businesses and other facilities already choose to disallow smoking and not because of some government mandate. It is their choice. Only about four restaurants out of over 20 allow smoking. The only other establishments that permit smoking are the bars and taverns and I don't recommend taking your babies there.

Alas, sometimes things aren't what they seem. I would like to know why the president of CACCC is all of a sudden on the anti-smoking bandwagon because of his asthma. Shouldn't he just quit going to the smoldering halls of nightclubs and casinos if it bothers him? You see, this whole smoking debate is about freedom and choice. Why should the CACCC pres. be able to curtail the freedom of business owners so that he can go where he wants and not be concerned about how that will affect his medical condition.

Wouldn't it have made more sense if he had exercised his own freedom of choice to avoid smoky establishments which exacerbated his lung disease in the first place? I say don't make business owners pay for your mistakes. Don't let the CACCC make these kinds of decisons for you and force eveyone else to change. If smoking were not LEGAL it would be a different issue entirely. When you surrender you rights; they're not coming back.

Oh, by the way. Wood smoke is 12 times more harmful to you than cigarette smoke, according to the EPA.


Mell H. Kuhn

Arkansas City


Sent to the Traveler editor on June 19, 2009

Mell Kuhn's piece in Thursday's Traveler inspired me to action. I am writing this while awake, so I'm being deliberate. I suppose that by expressing a point of view I'm attempting to "shape perceptions and manipulate cognitions", and thus spreading "propaganda". But I am certainly not trying to advance some nefarious hidden agenda. Let me be very open about my selfish motivation: I do not wish to be assaulted with poison gas in public places.
The main thing Mell's letter demonstrated is the truth of the saying that "denial ain't just a river in Africa." Does anybody truly believe that tobacco smoke is harmless? What utter twaddle. Well-written twaddle, perhaps, but twaddle nonetheless. If anybody truly believes such an absurd proposition (dare I say propaganda?), I'll be happy to sell him a bridge in New York at a very good price.
Let's look at a few of the usual arguments advanced in defense of the status quo. "If an owner of a business chooses to run their (sic) business a certain way, isn't that their prerogative?" Well, no. I can't hire a twelve-year-old to run dangerous machinery; I can't sell sausage that's half sawdust; I can't serve my restaurant customers rotten food that's spiced with maggots and rat droppings; and I shouldn't be allowed to subject my wait staff to toxic fume attack as a condition of employment. (I'm being hypothetical here; I don't really own a restaurant.)
"If smoking were not LEGAL it would be a different issue entirely." I won't go into graphic detail here, but there are plenty of things that are legal which you can't do in public without getting into trouble. Assaulting innocent bystanders with toxic gas ought to be one of them.
"...wood smoke is 12 times more harmful to you than second-hand cigarette smoke..." This red herring contains two old favorites of the denial crowd: 1. It's less harmful than something else and therefore OK; 2. Let's equate apples and oranges.
1. I suppose that because chopping off your finger is less harmful than chopping off your head, you should chop off your finger. Harmful is harmful, and you shouldn't do it to someone. 2. I'm unaware of any restaurant or other public facility that is filled with wood smoke. On the other hand, there are several businesses that inflict toxic tobacco fumes on their customers and their workers. In the unlikely event that a business does start heating with an unvented wood fire, perhaps we should deal with that too. Until that comes to pass, it's irrelevant to this discussion.
One final personal note to the proprietor of the highly advertised place that has an ashtray on every table, and the owner of the restaurant with a so-called no smoking area within a few feet of the reeking fumaroles: I have no interest in a dining experience that is both unhealthful and unpleasant. Ordinance or no ordinance, as long as you persist I will continue to avoid your stinking establishments and spend my money elsewhere. I am not alone in that.