An opposing viewpoint on smoking ban

By Tom Helcl Guest Columnist Is second hand smoke annoying and smelly? Yes. Is it a dangerous killer? No. The American cancer society and the American Heart Association has done numerous studies over the years on what harm smoking and second hand...

By Tom Helcl

Guest Columnist

Is second hand smoke annoying and smelly? Yes.

Is it a dangerous killer? No.

The American cancer society and the American Heart Association has done numerous studies over the years on what harm smoking and second hand smoke can do to the human body. For every study on second hand smoke that they produce and show to the public how traumatic it can be, there are another 1-2 studies they dont show you. These studies say second hand smoke has no significant effect on humans. In fact, most if not all of these unpublicized studies were long term and uncontrolled. The studies the AHA publicizes are small groups in a very controlled situation.


Basically they take their desired outcome first and then put together a study that will prove it.

But the most interesting are the studies they dont show you. A 38-year study started by the American Cancer Society at the University of California was abandoned by the society when it began to show that second hand smoke wasnt the evil toxin they had hoped it would be. However, the study continued on its own. the results showed NO significant increase in health problems from a non-smoker living with a smoker. 38 years!!!

Another seven year study conducted in Europe by the World Health Organization showed children living in a home with two smokers had a 22 percent LESS chance of contracting lung cancer as those children in a home with non-smokers.

In the 1990s the cancer and heart societies approached the EPA about having them rule that 2nd hand smoke was a serious danger based upon all of the chemicals found in it. The EPA didnt have the money or time to do real studies so they decided to sort thru the studies given them by the cancer and heart groups. The EPA then decided to label 2nd hand smoke as a Class A Carcigen. However, in 1998 a judge overruled the EPAs findings based upon the fact that they had cherrypicked the worst case scenarios. In some instances studies were either downright fabrications or had unsubstantiated data.

Ok, so if 2nd hand smoke is supposedly so dangerous, then why do these groups lie about their data?

These groups would like to wipe out all smoking by 2010--a noble cause--and with their education about the dangers of smoking it was working. In the last 20 years, smoking rates among adults and children were dropping fast. But not fast enough for them.

Sadly, they are using all of their resources on creating smoking bans and their education programs have slipped enough that smoking among children has now began to rise slightly.

The really sad part is 2nd hand smoke may truly be harmful to us, but because serious non-partisan studies are not happening, we may never find out.


The smoking ban proponents have a strategy, they want to scare you about the dangers of 2nd hand smoke. They will line up doctors left and right to tell you how dangerous it is.

Just because the cancer and heart societies say 2nd hand smoke is dangerous doesnt mean it is. (see president bush and weapons of mass destruction)

The charcoal smoke from your BBQ grill has over 100 times more potency in chemicals than 2nd hand smoke. If you are exposed to a smoky atmosphere monitors show that it is like smoking only 6 cigarettes a year.

Smoking ban proponents say 38,000 people a year die from 2nd hand smoke exposure. Where do they get is number from? From the EPA report--the same one that was deemed not valid by a judge. Most of us can say we have known someone or perhaps several people that have died from direct effects of their smoking. Name anyone you know that has died from 2nd hand smoke. You cant. Because there has never been one documented case of this. Try to find a coroners report that says that someone died of an illness from the direct cause of 2nd hand smoke. Sure, you have people that have never smoked that have contracted cancer. That doesnt mean, nor has it ever been proven it was from 2nd hand smoke. What about radon gas, smog, air pollution, asbestos, cleaning agents etc.--they all have been known to cause cancer, so why blame it all on 2nd hand smoke?

Lets go back to that 38,000 people dying per year from 2nd hand smoke and lets pretend that these numbers are true. More people than that will die from milk related allergies. Does that mean we should ban milk too?

Otter Tail countys public health departments smoking ban campaign is based upon false and misleading numbers--and is a terrible misuse of public time and funds.

They should be concentrating on real issues like the growing, out-of-control meth problem. They want to scare the public into giving up yet another freedom of choice based upon that departments personal issue with smoking.

Bar and Restaurant owners are a pretty smart bunch. if it was such a good idea to go smoke-free then they would have done it already. One did try it, they didnt last long. Many family friendly places have gone smoke-free not because of bans, but because that is what their customers wanted. Most bar business is over 70 percent smokers and with Becker and Wadena counties so close what happens to Perham and New York Mills area bar business if a ban is passed?


Sure, studies have been done showing that bans dont effect business, but that once again is misleading. They are taking places like McDonalds, burger king etc. that are already smoke free, they are also using other hospitality venues like hotels and motels.

They dont bother to think if a bar spends 40 cents on the dollar for promotions, events and advertising before the ban and now spend 90 cents per dollar after that to keep business up--what just happened to the profit. Bar owners could make 10 million dollars a year, but if it costs you 11 million dollars where is the upside?

They say they are doing it to protect the employees. At T-Bonz all the employees smoke and with a potential 70 percent loss of business and layoffs, who is getting protected? At T-Bonz we have a completely smoke free dining room separate from our smoking-allowed bar. We did this to accommodate all guests, there are people that cannot take 2nd hand smoke and have allergic reactions.

I myself am a non-smoker and I dont care for eating in a smoky area. But as a consumer I have a choice, a freedom to go somewhere else if I dont like it.

The day will come when most places go smoke-free, but now is not that time. I as a private business owner should be able to have the choice to choose based upon my customers needs when and if to go smoke free. My property is not public property.

There are other groups starting on the heels of the smoking bans. They want foods that are high in sugar and fat contents banned. Once we start opening up the flood gates for banning things that may or may not be healthy for us, when and at what point does it all stop.

Unlike most letters to the editor, I will back up my data with sources. There are numerous on the internet. I took mine from

Make sure you call your county commissioner and tell them, we have had enough of government regulation, we are adult taxpayers that are not stupid and we are smart enough to make this decision on our own.


Editors note: Tom Helcl, is owner of Wild Walleye Resort - Ottertail and T-Bonz Saloon and Steakhouse - Perham.

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