Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Theodore King: OKC Snuffing Out Reason

By Theodore King. Reprinted with permission
911: Nine one one, what’s your emergency?
OKC resident: There’s someone smoking a cigarette in Bluff Creek Park!
: We’ll get a squad car out there right away.

  This may sound silly, but if Oklahoma CIty Ward 4 Councilman Pete White has his way, this could happen - calling the cops to stop a smoker in a public park! On December 8, Councilman White will propose an new ordinance for Oklahoma City making it illegal to smoke tobacco on all city property, including parks! Councilman White makes an exception for city golf courses and sidewalks. The reason for the exemption on golf courses is golfers tend to be affluent and prefer cigars. And sidewalks will be exempt as it’s difficult to enforce for sidewalks.
Councilman Pete White
Councilman Ed Shadid
  This is what America has come to - banning smoking outdoors as well as indoors? Can Councilman White explain to me or anyone the dangers of secondhand smoke in the open air? Of course he cannot because he has no evidence. Councilman White just doesn’t like smoking and he’s using his petty post to promote his agenda. Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid doesn’t think White’s proposal goes far enough, he wants it extended to golf courses but White believes these regulations must be made, “a step at a time.” Source The Oklahoman, November 24, 2015
  A mere 20 years ago any public official proposing a ban on tobacco use outdoors would be laughed at and not by Big Tobacco; they’d be laughed at by any sane citizen. But America has lost her way and her mind in so many different ways.

  What has been missing from the news coverage of this proposal is the possible financial incentive provided by the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) a state agency that bribes cities to ban tobacco use and even the vaping of electronic cigarettes on government properties. TSET granted $100,000 to the city of Ada in 2013 to ban tobacco and e-cigarette products on city property. TSET was created as a result of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement between 46 states including Oklahoma and the large tobacco companies, a.k.a. Big Tobacco, to reimburse the states for their expenses in treating tobacco related illnesses. As a result of that settlement Oklahoma voters in 2000 approved the creation of TSET.
  Today, TSET has a billion dollars in its endowment and none of it goes towards treating the state’s tobacco related medicaid costs. Instead TSET uses that money to promote billboards encouraging people to eat peas, quit smoking and exercise; operate a tobacco quit line (which is actually legitimate) fund cancer research (also legitimate) and make grants to everyone from public television’s Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), to municipalities as a bribe to ban smoking on city properties.
  TSET also uses that money on slick television and print ads warning of the evils of tobacco and secondhand smoke. These ads are especially prevalent during the early months of the year when the legislature is ready to reconvene and possibly take up more tobacco control legislation.
  Two years ago the Tulsa suburb of Bixby looked at an ordinance similar to OKC’s. I spoke with the Bixby city attorney about the proposed ordinance. He informed me Bixby would be able to get a grant from TSET if they were to approve a tobacco ban on city property but if they did not approve the ban no TSET money would be made available. Let me put this bluntly, it was a bribe from TSET to the municipality to ban smoking. While Councilmen White and Shadid are no doubt little control freaks it’s just possible they are eyeing a big pay day from TSET like the ones other Oklahoma municipalities have received.
  If you live in Oklahoma City and you think this proposal is absurd, I encourage you to make your voice heard prior to Tuesday, December 8. I have provided a link to all council members including Mayor Mick Cornett.
  Four years ago this outdoor ban insanity started in New York City by control freak, extraordinaire Michael Bloomberg. Comedy Central’s Daily Show had this take on it.

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