Saturday, June 9, 2007

A Letter I sent to IL House Reps (very long)

Here's the initial email I sent off to IL House Reps back in April:


I'm Jay. I'm an Illinois resident, and I'm from Chicago. I'm also not in favor of having a statewide smoking ban. A statewide smoking ban will not level the playing field, as some ban supporters claim. Sure, all of the Illinois comunities would be under a ban, meaning there would be no competition among businesses of cities that currently have smoking bans and the nearby cities without the bans.

But what about competition between hospitality businesses, in particular, in neighboring STATES? A statewide smoking ban in Illinois means lots of Illinois smokers will drive out of state just to find a bar or restaurant that permits smoking.

No smoking customers for the businesses in Illinois means no money for those owners. And in some cases, the owners might be forced to lay off workers due to a lack of customers/actual work at the businesses who actually depend on smoking customers. Ban supporters claim smoking bans don't hurt businesses. But this wasn't the case when I recall hearing about a Tinley Park tavern owner having a serious drop in revenues at the start of 2007, when Tinley Park's smoking ban went into effect. This owner eventually got her wish of a postponement on the smoking ban during January. I think the fact the Bears were in the playoffs and how lots of smokers enjoy going to taverns to enjoy their drinks and smokes while watching the games played a role in that decision to postpone the ban.

Smokers in Illinois might move out of state altogether with a smoking ban. If they can't smoke anywhere within the public, not even at adults-only places, what's the point of them living in Illinois? They're better off living in a state where they would feel welcome as American citizens. Since these Illinois smokers also pay taxes, that means less money for the state, if Illinois loses smokers as actual residents. And I do mean smokers pay taxes in general. Tobacco is only part of the long list of taxes ALL smokers pay.

Thanks for reading. Smoking bans have nothing to do with health reasons. Otherwise, Illinois would ban tobacco sales statewide too. And not just ban smoking in places.


Here's one reply I received from one of those Reps.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: John DAmico
To: Jay
Sent: Friday, April 20, 2007 1:21:22 PM
Subject: Re: Please consider these cons of having a smoke-free Illinois

Dear Jay,

Thank you for taking the time to contact my office about second hand smoke, and smoking bans. I really appreciate constituents such as yourself who take the time to educate me about issues and your positions. I will take your words into careful consideration when I vote.

This is a complex issue. I do believe in individual rights and responsibilities. Smoking is an adult choice that should not be dictated by the State. At the same time, the State does have a responsibility to protect non-smokers who do not wish to be exposed to second-hand smoke.

Please understand, regardless of what action the State takes on this issue, it will have very limited impact on our lives, because communities in our area have already passed local ordinances. For example, the City of Chicago passed an ordinance which already bans smoking in most public areas, and will ban smoking in bars and restaurant bars on July 1, 2008. The Village of Morton Grove passed an ordinance which will ban smoking in most public places, including restaurants, effective July 31, 2007. The Village of Niles recently passed an ordinance restricting smoking in public areas.

Please call on me if I can ever be of service.

John C. D¢Amico
15th District


And finally, my rebuttal to John's reply.

Dear John,

Thank you for your reply, and I will keep your offer in mind to call you in the future if I want to share my opinions on future issues.

I just simply want to comment on two things you brought up in your reply.

1. You say Illinois has a right to protect nonsmokers from secondhand smoke. Illinois can do this by encouraging all public places to use adequate ventilation indoors. Even enclosed rooms with adequate ventilation could work for smokers. Or maybe Illinois can ban tobacco sales. The state can protect nonsmokers by not allowing tobacco sales at all. But since the state depends on smokers to give the state money for tobacco taxes, the latter idea will never happen.

Nonsmokers can protect themselves by not approaching areas with several smokers gathered around a building outside. Illinois would've banned smoking decades ago if they really wanted to protect workers from secondhand smoke. And even at that, I have yet to hear of a noonsmoker who died from inhaling secondhand smoke. I've heard of some who have suffered from inhaling the smoke. But I haven't seen a death certificate that specifically mentions "Inhaled secondhand smoke" as the direct cause for a nonsmoker's death.

2. You referred to a few communities with smoking bans already, Chicago included. Well, I heard about 34 percent of the Illinois communities have smoking bans already. That means the majority of communities in this state don't want to violate smokers' freedom to use a legal product, and business owners' freedom to make a living. Glenview is one Illinois community which considered a smoking ban, but they decided to say "NO to a smoking ban" in the end. This decision came in March 2007.

Thanks again for your reply to my initial e-mail.

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