Guest Column: Smoking article was misleading

After reading Bill Kershner’s misleading, biased and name-calling article [re: Letter to Editor, Dec. 6-12, 2006], I felt compelled to write in an attempt to expose some truths and possibly educate the public. Since, as Bill points out in his letter, it was a “public input meeting,” anyone regardless of their profession or business had the right to be heard, just as Bill did, even though he doesn’t live and pay taxes in Machesney Park. Tavern owners from outside Machesney were there to show support for those doing business there because they understand the domino effect—one falls, we all fall.

As for false and misleading statements, it is actually the anti-smoking lobby that is skewing facts and figures to strengthen their position. Voter mandates and referendums are misleading because they don’t actually represent the population as a whole, only a segment. How many eligible voters got to the ballot box and knew there was a referendum to be voted on? How many of these voters actually voted one way or the other, or left it blank? How many voters were smokers vs. nonsmokers? And since when, in this country, does the will of the “many” trample on the rights of the “few”?

Those who own and operate liquor-serving establishments get a very different picture from those states that have passed smoking bans through shared information between state beverage associations. Locally, Madison is thinking of repealing their ban because they have lost so much business that has gone to the establishments outside Madison. On a state level, New York members reported last year fewer liquor licenses, shorter business hours, laying off employees, smaller tips and overall lower revenue from cigarette and liquor taxes, and lottery sales (sound familiar, Illinois?). Figures that report higher revenue after a smoking ban has passed are inaccurate because they include all businesses, such as McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, Beef-A-Roo and so on. Any increase in revenue is reported as a fact that the ban has had no effect, and sales increased despite the law. Bar owners know this to be a lie, as the numbers should reflect the businesses the ban is meant to target.

Lastly, bar owners are not pro-smoking; bar owners are pro-business. They resent the attempt by any level of government to step in and tell them how they should operate their business. Non-smokers make up a percentage of a bar or restaurant’s business, yet they would dictate policy for all the bars that any business is open, whether they frequent those establishments or not. That, folks, is called fascism. Hello, Big Brother, goodbye democracy, and the rights of freedom, and that, Bill, is what is truly indecent and immoral.

Steve Lyons is the owner of Figli’s, 200 E. Riverside, Loves Park.

From the Dec. 13-19, 2006, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!