Here we go again

Posted: Tuesday, September 04, 2001

The Alaska Tobacco Control Alliance and the Juneau Tobacco Prevention Network are about to steamroll legislation into place in Juneau, like they did in Anchorage. (The Assembly conveniently aborted discussion on it because of a lack of quorum). So on the 10th, the anti-smoking group will show up, wearing their green ribbons and a few may even be dragging their oxygen cylinders into chambers to enhance theatrics.

One needs to realize that the "bottom line" of these organizations is the total elimination of all tobacco use.

They have conducted a well-orchestrated, year-long campaign of hatred, discrimination and false-misleading advertising. They would have you believe that we are in a second-hand smoke situation of some 30 years ago. They are telling Juneau that we have a serious second-hand smoke situation, when in reality, Juneau has been doing a pretty good job on the issue.

I have not been in an office that allows smoking in Juneau in a long, long time. Virtually all public places (save for a few restaurants who have designated smoking areas as per current statute) are now non-smoking. The number of smokers in Juneau is estimated to be around 12 percent and going down all the time.

The Assembly will be asked to vote largely on the basis of the McDowell group survey - a survey bought and paid for by the anti-tobacco activists (probably with funds provided by smokers via tobacco taxes or settlement monies). Survey questions were of the nature to elicit favorable answers from the 88 percent non-smokers. Sort of like going into an ice cream parlor and asking everyone, "Who here doesn't like ice cream?" The question, "Do you think Juneau is doing a satisfactory job in second-hand smoke control?" was never asked. And incidentally, the McDowell Group should apologize to senior citizens for their obviously opinionated last sentence in their commentary. It was totally uncalled-for.

There are no smokers on the Assembly, mayor inclusive. So their vote will no doubt be like asking Col. Sander to baby sit your chickens.

In conclusion, no ordinance should be enacted without a survey wherein smokers and non-smokers have some input as to the questions generated by CBJ. And most certainly no action should be taken on the ordinance until ambient air sampling is conducted to ascertain just how much of a hazard exists. Something other than the turned-up nose metering of anti-smoking radicals. Air sampling should be witnessed by non-smokers and smokers alike. Finally, Juneau smokers have no escape like the Anchorage folk who can hop up to Wasilla and Palmer and have a cup of coffee and a cigarette in the morning, or after dinner. The Prevention Network says, "Take it outside." And now they want to tell smokers where to take it outside. Ridiculous, utterly ridiculous! The current smoking statues are working and acceptable by most.

Bob Casey


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