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Register on MySmokers Rights.com and you'll have access to your own personalized page, with contact information for your state and federal representatives. And RJR will keep you informed of issues affecting smokers in your area by way of e-mail.

Letters

January 22, 2004
Dear Mr. Smith,

I am responding to your January 20 email regarding the smoking ban.

I am quite aware that Florida took away freedom of choice of its citizens along with 4 other states, not “many” as you say. I do believe you’ll find that the expense of enforcing this ban and the questionable legalities of accepting and using tobacco money by the State of Florida will be a key issue in the coming months. Many states are now considering withholding tobacco settlement money from communities that ban smoking. The next level will be federal and will involve withholding tobacco settlement money from states that ban tobacco.

We have received numerous emails from tourists that are just now finding out about the Florida smoking ban. Their typical question is where can we go to relax, have a drink, have a meal and smoke in Florida. We are directing them elsewhere – out of state. We have also received numerous emails from employees pointing out the unfairness in removing their rights in the name of their safety. Many of these employees are now directing smokers to smoking areas while encouraging them to write and call their representatives in government. This front may sound quiet to those in Tallahassee but it is beginning to boil with taxpayers.

New York City raised its business taxes to offset the losses associated with smoking bans. They also do not separate tax receipts for the purposes of reporting negative income. Whether one buys liquor in a liquor store or in a bar makes no difference to the revenue reports. Many people are buying liquor at a store and going home instead of going out. The rise in revenue can also be associated with normal growth. My response here also covers your statement that sales tax data from 81 localities in six states had no effect on revenues.

Your statistic on California is open-ended. You state that California’s cancer case rate in 1999 was more than 10% lower than in the rest of the United States. I can take the statement to mean that California’s cancer case rate in 1999 was 10% lower than all the states combined in the United States. You also state that between 1998 and 1999, tobacco-caused cancers fell 12% for men and 8% for women. How did the California Department of Health determine that the cancers were tobacco-caused? How did the CDH separate environmental tobacco smoke causes from other causes? We are talking about ETS when it comes to Florida’s ban aren’t we? Did the CDH validly determine which cancers were caused by ETS? If they did manage to draw a distinction, they have accomplished something that has never been done. What happened to the cancer rates after 1999? That was 4-5 years ago.

Florida isn’t one of the 81 localities from one of the 6 states. Florida is known for its tourist trade and I believe you will find that revenues are dwindling and will continue to do so.

My organization will continue to work against the Florida smoking ban by placing ads in northern cities notifying potential tourists of the ban and continuing our push for legislation against the restriction of our freedom of choice. Be advised that the Florida lottery is being considered as an instrument of boycott by the thousands of smokers and friends of smokers in Florida. If we can’t bring attention to this theft of our freedom of choice through our current course of actions, we are prepared to activate on other fronts.

Sincerely,
Cheryl Butler

-----Original Message-----
From: DHAT_TobaccoControlProgram@doh.state.fl.us [mailto:DHAT_TobaccoControlProgram@doh.state.fl.us]
Sent: Tuesday, January 20, 2004 9:09 AM
Subject: Amendment 6 Follow Up

Dear Ms. Butler:
I’m responding on behalf of the Governor to your January 7 e-mail regarding the smoking ban. Florida joined many other states on July 1, 2003, by prohibiting smoking in an enclosed indoor workplace as a result of a constitutional amendment approved by 71% of Florida voters in 2002. The Department of Health has been given enforcement responsibilities of this amendment as part of the Clean Indoor Air Act as mandated by the Legislature. Donna Arnold, Program Specialist with the Clean Air Program, works with businesses to ensure compliance and provide information as needed.

The intent of the amendment was not to decrease the revenue of businesses, but to provide a healthy environment for citizens who patronize the state’s restaurants. Whit it is too early for data on the economic and health impact of the revisions to the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act, there is data from other locations where similar provisions have been adopted. For example, New York City’s smoke-free workplace law took effect in March 2003. According to the Commissioner of Finance, New York’s bars and restaurants paid the city 12% more in business taxes in the months since the law began than they did in the corresponding period in 2002. A report by the California Department of Health Services found that between 1998 and 1999, tobacco-caused cancers fell 12% among men and 8% among women. California is seeing the health benefits from smoke free workplace laws. California’s cancer case rate in 1999 was more than 10% lower than in the rest of the United States. Studies of sales tax data from 81 localities in six states consistently demonstrated that ordinances restricting smoking in restaurants had no effect on revenues.

Ms. Butler, these statistics are far less important than the number of lives that will be saved by providing smoke free environments. We are very optimistic that Florida in 2004 will also show positive economic benefits from the state’s revised Clean Indoor Air Act.

Thanks for your concerns regarding this issue. If I may further assist you, please let me know.

Gregg Smith
Program Administrator
Tobacco Control Program



Dear Mr. and Mrs. Eten:

Thank you for your message to Governor Jeb Bush regarding the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act and the ban on indoor workplace smoking. Because this department has certain enforcement responsibility in that area, Governor Bush has asked that we respond directly to you.

While we understand your concern and frustration with this new law, please understand the smoking ban is now a provision of the Florida Constitution and Statutes. Neither Governor Bush nor this department have unilateral authority to alter provisions of either. Changes to Florida Statutes must be enacted by the Legislature, and then become subject to approval or veto by the Governor. Proposed changes to the Constitution are subject to ballot consideration by the voters of Florida, as was the case with the indoor workplace smoking ban last November.

Although feelings on both sides of this issue are very strong, please understand this department is obligated to enforce provisions of the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act as established by the Florida Legislature. If you feel strongly that legislation is warranted regarding your views, you may wish to contact the members of the Florida Senate and House of Representatives for your area. You may find this information in the government section of your telephone directory, or on the web site for your county's Supervisor of Elections.

You mentioned in your letter that you "have been written up 4 times with the representative telling us something different each time." We work very hard to deal consistently with all complaints, so I would welcome any details you could provide about the conflicting information you received.

Thank you again for your message to Governor Bush. I hope you find this useful, and please contact us again if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,
Pat Wilson Parmer
Deputy Director
Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco


January 6, 2004
Dear Ms. Butler:

Thank you for your email of December 30, 2003, to Governor Bush, regarding Florida's smoking ban. Since the Department of Health has enforcement responsibilities for Chapter 386, Florida Statutes, the Florida Clean Indoor Air Act (FCIAA), the Governor has asked me to respond on his behalf.

As you are probably aware, on November 5, 2002, Amendment 6 - the Smoke-Free for Health ballot initiative (supported by the American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Cancer Society and numerous other health organizations) passed with 71% of Florida voters voting in favor of prohibiting smoking in enclosed indoor workplaces. Amendment 6 did not give a smoking exception to civic or fraternal organizations.

During the 2003 Legislative session, the Florida Legislature defined "membership associations" as any nonprofit, charitable or veteran's organization that holds a current 501(c) exemption from the Internal Revenue Code. The term "work" does not include any facility owned or leased by and used exclusively for noncommercial activities performed by the members and guests of a "membership association". If any civic/fraternal organization employs anyone to perform "work" other than a member, then smoking is prohibited.

A civic or fraternal organization holding a beverage license from the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT) will come under their authority for smoking regulations. I am not aware at this time of any Elk lodge being fined by ABT.

Based on the experience of other states and municipalities which have enacted similar smoke-free measures, the new no smoking ban will have a positive economic benefit as people with health conditions, such as emphysema and allergies, will now be able to patronize restaurants and other workplaces without endangering their health.

Again, I thank you for sharing your comments with Governor Bush.

Sincerely,
Donna Arnold, Program Specialist
Division of Health Awareness and Tobacco
Florida Clean Indoor Air Act Program
(850) 245-4281 or (800) 337-3742 (Florida only
Fax: 850-414-7497


Dear Ms. Arnold,

Above is a copy of your response to Ms. Butler's e-mail on behalf of Governor Bush. If I may I would like to comment on it. To start with the original ballot indicated (at least the one I read at the polls) that the only people that would be affected were restaurants and not private organizations (no where was this mentioned). I have a letter that even states that fraternal organizations like the Elks, VFW, etc were exempt after the law was passed but then when it was sent to the senate for incorporation into the statues, all of a sudden WE WERE INCLUDED in the ban! Can you explain what happened here? Then the bill says "The term "work" does not include any facility owned or leased by and used exclusively for noncommercial activities performed by the members and guests of a "membership association". " I take this to mean that the facility is used for activities being performed by members of which only members and their guests can get in to start with and then of course is the Catch All phrase, "If any civic/fraternal organization employs anyone to perform "work" other than a member, then smoking is prohibited." Does it matter when that work is being performed? Before hours, after hours, restaurant closed, etc.?

Everyone I spoke with said that they too understood it to apply only to restaurants. I also have first hand knowledge that several Elks Lodges have been fined, Eustis Lodge 1578, Eustis, FL were among the first. I also understand that they had applied for a "Stand Alone" license, received it and with in hours it was revoked. Our business is down about 40% since this was enacted. I do not think that the public was properly informed as to who was really affected by this ban and this was a "backdoor" way of getting smoking stopped everywhere.

We do operate a restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights and on Sunday morning (9 hours total). We do not make a tremendous amount of money, in fact we usually run in the "RED" but on paper we make more than the 10 % limit set by the law. Since like everything else everyone wants to look at "Gross" income as to "actual" income there is no way we can get under the 10% rule and we can not afford to close since we do make some money.

I think that it is high time the select few and government stopped telling everyone how to run their lives. All of our members were aware that we smoked and still chose to join when they were invited. All of our employees were aware that we smoked (of which 90% smoked anyway) and had no problem in working there because of it. What has happened now is that all of the Charities that the Elks support are suffering because the money is down and we can no longer afford to be as generous. Example, we spent over $12,000.00 to assist the needy, Salvation Army, Waterfront Mission and Sharing and Caring (food bank) last year. This year we were limited to about $6,000.00. That is a 50% decrease. Why? Less money coming in to the lounge and other functions, loss of members who will no longer patron the Lodge since they can not smoke in the Lounge and what charity money we do have we must spread it out in order to continue our work later in the year. In the 7 months since the ban we have not picked up enough non-smokers to compensate for the loss of the money spent by the smokers who no longer spend that money.

Yes, I am a smoker and what bothers me more than anything (and our members) is someone else is telling us what we can or can not do in a place we PAY MONEY to belong to. You can not walk in off the street and become a member, you must be "INVITED" to become a member. This is what has me and most of the members upset about this whole thing. Not to mention the rules on smoking "Outside". Who came up with these? The law says we can't smoke inside and it also says basically we can't smoke outside either if we want to stay warm and dry in the winter and cool in the summer. If we build a outside area for smokers, where only people who smoke go to smoke then why can't it be more than 50% covered? It is a little hard to force the over 65 crowd outside to smoke in 40 degree weather and a 10 mph north wind and keep them at the Lodge spending money. I just do not understand.

Thank you for your time and allowing me to point out our concerns and view points.

David Cagle, Exalted Ruler
Fort Walton Elks Lodge 1795
Fort Walton Beach, Florida


January 13, 2004
Dear Mr. Cagle:

As I understand it from Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT), (the agency responsible for the licensing of civic/fraternal organizations), most civic/fraternal organizations holds a 11AL beverage license, which is not eligible to be designated as a stand-alone bar. You can contact ABT at 850-487-1395 to check to see if your lodge can be designated as a stand-alone bar.

If you have further questions, please contact me.

Donna Arnold
Donna Arnold, Program Specialist
Division of Health Awareness and Tobacco
Florida Clean Indoor Air Act Program
(850) 245-4281 or (800) 337-3742 (Florida only)
Fax: 850-414-7497


Highlands Today
October 12, 2003

Hello,

Due to Amendment 6, the legislators are isolating a group of citizens that contribute $1,429,386,027 in cigarette taxes to the State’s economy.

If everyone in Florida quite smoking, where would the state get that money from?? The Anti-Smokers want everyone to quit smoking, but the question is “ Are they ready to contribute that large amount of money to the state

Economy?” I think not!!!

Restaurant/Bar owners are hurting financially because “SMOKERS ARE STAYING AWAY”. It is pretty sad when restaurant owners have to put articles in newspapers stating “Non-Smokers where are you?”

The State of Florida is already in an economic mess and Amendment 6 is making it worse. The word is out all over the country and tourists are staying away. WE as the State of Florida are the laughing stock of this country! First, the debacle of the 2000 election and now “Don’t visit Florida if you smoke!”

I find it quit ironic that Governor Bush and State Senator Burt Saunders (Naples) are considering un-amending the “Class Size Reduction Amendment” , because people didn’t understand the cost. Well I say, “If they can un-amend a law that was passed by Floridians, then they certainly can un-amend Amendment 6. People also did not understand the economic impact on the state economy with restaurants/bars shutting down every day.” The money gained by un-amending A6 would possibly give the state the money not to have to repeal the Class Size Reduction Amendment.

Why should residents and private business owners have to sign a petition asking the state to make it legal for someone to use something legal (tobacco is a legal product) on their own property?? I consider this a total violation of our civil liberties. The owner of a property has the right to accommodate whomever they wish. Not so with Amendment 6!!

I think everyone needs to sit back and think of the repercussions of how this precedent could affect your lifestyle in the future. Maybe no more liquor, golf, fishing,etc, because no matter what are vices are, someone finds fault , and there is an organization out there ready to pounce!!!

If these organizations contribute money to the politicians, they vote it in, legal or not!

The Legislators of this state need to step up to the plate and admit that Amendment 6 Is unconstitutional and does not coincide with Federal Law.

We all need to put an end to this violation of “FREEDOM OF CHOICE!”

Contact your legislators!

Sincerely,
Cheryl Butler
336 Imbros Ave. Ne
Lake Placid, Fl 33852
863-699-1596




The Crab Trap Restaurant
6229 Grand Boulevard
New Port Richey, FL 34652
727 845-5050 phone
727 817-0005 fax

Deborah A. Iannuzzi


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