The question arises:
As Butch said to Sundance, with the posse hot on their heels:
WHO ARE THESE GUYS?
At least to begin with, a surprisingly small group. Perhaps a dozen
or so guys. But stellar, and most instrumental among them, were some names
you've probably heard: James REPACE (a
physicist), John BANZHAF (a lawyer) and Stanton GLANTZ (a
They started out as guys who just... hated smoking. Just personally
hated it. Wanted it off the earth. And -- give them credit
-- they were able by dint of sheer single-mindedness, a Barnum-like knowledge
of show biz, and -- in Repace's case-- a job at the EPA, to race their
hobby horse to a Win.
Mr. Banzhaf has now carted his legal circus to virgin fields. A power
behind the first fine lawsuits against Tobacco, his
latest target is Big Food (you know -- McDonald's, Wendy's et al) and
Mr. Banzhaf (who's aptly named) is a big proponent of bans. Recently
he noted the obese were "a visual blight" and very soon may be suggesting
that we ban them from public parks.
On the local (NY) level, our Carrie Nation is JOE CHERNER. And
since Cherner appears to collaborate and collude with Stanton Glantz, we'll
limit our discussion herein to these two.
This is not irrelevant.
How they play politics in New York City -- how they treat the City Council
(how, in fact, they treat The Truth) becomes a matter, we'd say, of interest.
(Though we note the same strategies are at play throughout the land.)
He's founder and president of "SmokeFree Educational Services, Inc.,"
a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization whose major activity, nonetheless,
appears to be lobbying.
He's also the Policy Chair of "The Coalition for a Smoke-Free City,"
a coalition of some 250 groups including, most notably, the local chapters
of the major health charities.
Most of the member groups get funded from both general tax-payers' money
(through state and federal grants) and additionally from the Master Settlement
Agreement (money which, by law, actually comes from smokers.) Recently,
in an ad in the New York Daily News, Mr. Cherner's coalition made
a pitch for its own cut of the proposed new tax on cigarettes in the city.
It's impressive, then, that Cherner holds the post of impresario
at such a heavyweight organization, which directs its disbursement of taxpayers'
money to things like, well...ads in the New York Daily News asking for
And like expensive (full-page) ads in the New York Times lobbying the
city council for additional bans on smoking. (For more, see "Quick
Thomas Jefferson, of course, might be squirming around in his grave.
Funneling taxpayers' money to activists on one side of a political debate
is--in his words-- "sinful and tyrannical" since it forces other
citizens "to contribute to a cause with which they disagree."
POLITICAL DEBUT: BRIBING TWO MAYORS, SMEARING ONE
Mr. Cherner, who claims to "identify with Spider-Man," got into the spin
business in the early 1990's when he started a self-described "crusade"
to remove tobacco billboards from Shea Stadium. Having made enough
money to retire at 31 (bond-trading made him very rich, very fast)
he apparently decided to devote the rest of his life, and great gobs of
his own money, to realizing his dream of a smoker-free city. He seeded
SES with $250,000 of his own bread. And threw more of it around.
After repeated (denied) requests to meet with then-Mayor Dinkins on
the subject of those billboards, according to The New York Times,
"...Mr. Cherner [offered]
last year to donate $25,000 to the charity of Mr. Dinkins's choice in exchange
for an interview. His offer was rejected......By contrast, Mayor Edward
I. Koch met with him after Mr. Cherner offered to donate $100,000 to charities
in exchange for a meeting."
Scorned by Mr. Dinkins, Cherner went to work grinding out press releases
and bombarding local reporters. Savvy about manipulating the media
(they "like it when people fight") he launched a $50,000 radio campaign
which accused the Mayor of being beholden to (what else) "tobacco interests."
Round One to Cherner.
Of course the truth (and Cherner knew it) was that the city had signed
a long-term contract for the billboards, and both the Parks Commissioner
and the city's Corporation Council had warned that it couldn't be broken
at the peril of being sued. Never mind. Smearing Dinkins
was good copy and the tactic --accusing every opponent of venal motive--
scored another proof that it worked.
-Anti-Smoker Presses Shea Billboard Battle, NY
WEBS FOR SPIDER-MAN
Cherner also presides over two websites, "SmokeFreeAir.org" and "Smokescreen.org."
both of which are actively engaged in specifically lobbying the New York
City council. Through centralized e-mills, Mr. Cherner solicits "mail"
(from his national membership) to members of the council. He also
offers to double the punch of those e-mails by faxing them too.
Also on his sites are Members Only chat rooms, where a lot of revealing
chat gets openly chatted. As you will see.
GUNNING FOR CHRISTINE QUINN
More recently, Mr. Cherner has worked actively behind the scenes to defeat
the nomination of Christine Quinn to the chairmanship of the Health Committee.
The following messages appeared on his site. The first is simply an
APB to get the national (please note: national) forces to flood the Council
with protests. Thus:
"The NYC Council will
choose a health chair shortly. One of the candidates being considered is
Chris Quinn. She is not in favor of smoke-free air and, in fact, she smokes
! ...What kind of message would the council be sending if it appoints Quinn
as health chair?"
He goes on to list alternatives more to his liking, and to solicit irate
He also posts a copy of his letter to the Executive Director of the
American Cancer Society, in his further efforts to sabotage Quinn:
Don Distasio (Ddistasi@cancer.org)
There are 18 members
of the City Council who have come out in support of a safe, healthy, smokefree
work environment for ALL New York City workers. Councilwoman Chris Quinn
is NOT one of them.....Why does ACS want to endorse Chris Quinn for Health
Chair when there are so many supportive Councilmembers...? [S]he would
be terrible for tobacco control. Who is determining this ACS position?"
-Jan.15, 2002 www.smokescreen.org
Obviously, Mr. Cherner has been hyperactive in lobbying for ever-wider
smoking bans in New York. Much of this lobbying has been done
in collusion with Stanton Glantz who-- aside from "advising" him-- provides
warm bodies and helps him to stack the Council hearings with outsiders.
So briefly, we'll digress:
A self-described "lunatic" anti-smoker, his fingerprints can be found
on almost every gun in the war against smokers.
Though his degree is in mechanical engineering (PhD) he's billed himself
as an "expert" on every conceivable smoking-related topic, including,
but not limited to, health, entertainment (the censorship thereof), economics,
and social policy. That's just for openers.
A professor at the University of California (UCSF) Glantz has been able
to parlay his hobby into a multi-million dollar goldmine, to insinuate
himself into government agencies (e.g. the EPA-- where his "science" was
unsurprisingly less- than-objective) and into lucrative gigs as a government-paid
witness (e.g. for OSHA) as well as into the orbit of media darlingness.
Truly an avatar of the American Dream.
AMERICANS FOR NON-SMOKERS RIGHT$
His activism began in the late 1970s when he founded the Berkeley-based
"Americans for Non-Smokers Rights."
(ANR) It's avowed purpose was to propagate his vision of smokers
as "social outcasts" and to lobby for legislation that would make it legally
so. In the 1980s, he lobbied strenuously for a tax hike on California
smokers (Prop 99) with the stipulation that a portion of the revenue
be earmarked for further political activism by... groups like his.
His initial "take" from Prop 99 was close to $500,000, enough to put
him on the map. Once there, he got another $4 million from the state.
(Source: "Policing P.C." National Review, Aug. 28,1995)
Still, he kept his day jobs.
CONFLICTS OF INTEREST
Hired, along with other well-known crusaders, by James Repace (himself
an established crusader and then-head of the EPAs Indoor Air Division)
Glantz was contracted to contribute to the Division's "Technical compendium"
on secondhand smoke. Since little was known, and virtually nothing had
been established on exposures to such smoke, the resulting compendium was
( in the conclusion of the House Sub-committee that eventually looked into
it) nothing much more than "an advocacy document" made to appear as though
it were science. (1)
Before the draft of this report (later questioned, then publicly disavowed
by the EPA) had been subjected to internal or peer review, Glantz--in
violation of EPA policy-- leaked it to the press. Thus gaining his
goals: Screaming scare headlines, and personal celebrity.
In response to the EPA director's public disavowal of the Repace compendium,
and his statement that some of its science may be, in fact " a figment
of Stan Glantz's imagination," Glantz merely admitted that his leak had
been a "mistake."
(1) All Material On Repace, Glantz And
The EPA Is From The Transcript Of The Referenced Congressional Hearings
a/k/a The Bliley Report
MORE GLANTZ RESEARCH
In 1994, though still a mechanical engineer, he co-authored a study purportedly
proving that restaurants don't lose money from smoking bans, a study widely
cited, right to this day, by advocates of bans in cities around the country.
When it was challenged as fraudulent or, at best, rife with error (towns
without bans apparently counted as having bans; losses accidentally reported
as being gains) he refused, upon challenge, to release his
If Glantz's research is sometimes questioned, if not indeed questionable,
he has only himself to blame. Here's his policy statement on how he
"...that's the question
that I have applied to my research relating to tobacco: If this comes out
the way I think, will it make a difference [toward achieving the goal].
And if the answer is yes, then we do it, and if the answer is I don't know,
then we don't bother. Okay? And that's the criteria."
- Written Transcript Of 3-Day Conference Called
"Revolt Against Tobacco," L.A., 1992
It's the criteria for advocacy, all right. Just not for objective science.
GETTING POLITICAL: SMEARING POLITICIANS
In 1989, with Prop 99 money, Mr. Glantz set out to investigate...
California legislators! A purely political investigation. When
the grant ran out, he applied for-- and got-- a $600,000 grant from the
National Cancer Institute (the federal government) to continue the investigation.
His subsequent report, "Undermining Popular Government," (May, 1995)
spent much of its time (and your money) grousing about the diversion of
Prop 99 money from "tobacco control education" (ie., him) to such
frivolities as health care for indigent children, and attempting to make
the case that this diversion was because of tobacco industry influence--
not only on legislators, but on the California Medical Assn itself, whom
he elsewhere defined as "sleazeballs." (1)
The rest of his efforts (and your money) consisted of listing every
industry contribution made to every politician over the course of
20 years and insisting that "incorrect" voters had been bought.
This could get to be pretty silly. First of all, according to
Glantz, virtually every legislator had at some point since 1976 taken such
money. But by Glantz's logic, Senator A had been corrupted by $1400,
whereas the virtuous Senator B was unshaken by 30,000.
L.A City Council members were implied to have been bought for 500 bucks.
-Report Funded By NCI Grant # CA-61021
(1) S.F.Examiner, Sunday Mag. 6/2/96
Calling For Blood
In Mr. Glantz's vocabulary, opposition to smoking bans, no matter what
the reason = "pushing the tobacco industry's agenda." Here's how
he suggests that his troops deal with any such heretical legislators:
"In each state one or
two politicians seem to be taking the lead in pushing the industry's position
(at least publicly). As soon as these politicians start floating trial
balloons, they should be attacked publicly. If they can be bloodied, it
could well scare the others off. Fear is a great motivator for politicians."
GLANTZ IN NEW YORK: COLD CALCULATION AND WARM
As far back as 1986, there are records of Glantz's advising New York activists
(including some pretty powerful ones) on how to lobby the City Council.
Usually by methods of subtle blackmail and threatened attack.
Glantz, however, got directly into the act by testifying, and importing
others to testify, at the hearings that led to the first serious bans on
smokers here in 1995. Apparently, with a foreknowledge of both the
proposals and the proceedings (information not available to local citizens)
he and his allies were pretty much able to orchestrate the proceedings.
Or so went the reports.
In any case, it's clear that Mr. Glantz sees New York as a watershed
in his war. And what he wants from it is complete and unconditional
surrender. A "victory" in New York (a city widely known for its tolerance
and diversity) holds tremendous importance. If he can "take" New
York, really "take" it 100%. then tomorrow the world.
VENTING ON VENTILATION: GLANTZ V. CHERNER V. THE NEW
YORK CITY COUNCIL
Thus Mr. Glantz was particularly perturbed that in 2001's proposed bill
to widen the existing smoking ban (from "only" 95%) to 100% of all city
restaurants, the wrong-headed City Council had created (Section 17-513.2)
a "Secondhand Smoke Air Quality Task Force." The purpose of this
task force was to investigate the possibility that new ventilation technologies--
not bans-- could be the answer to removing the last vestiges of smoke
from restaurant air.
(And isn't "smoke-free air" what they're supposedly after?)
In fact, Glantz (who--remember--sees everything in the world that opposes
his agenda as a vast, wrong-wing tobacco conspiracy) renamed this
prospective body "The Pro-Tobacco Industry Ventilation Task Force."
And aside from spreading the word that "many experts in ventilation
are on the industry payroll, often covertly," and that "restaurant owners,
bar owners, unions who install ventilation" (and perhaps even ventilation
itself) are actually nothing more than industry fronts, Mr. Glantz
goes so far as to question, by dark insinuation, the integrity of Peter
Vallone [then head of the city council]:
"Vallone has consistently
refused to remove the task force. In addition, Vallone's office has
refused to disclose (to Business Week) who is demanding this task force."
By implication then, Vallone -- who'd introduced the proposed
bans and played hardball to get them passed -- was also, nonetheless, an
But the "advocates" seem to think they can end-run around him
by "controlling" the task force:
"[Though] advocates have
lobbied hard behind the scenes to get rid of the task force.. Vallone,
has absolutely refused to remove it....The health groups think they will
be able to control the task force once it is established....They are fooling
themselves....If the task force stays...then it is crucial that the NY
advocates kill the bill."
"I urge the advocates
in New York to either fix the bill or kill it."
Gee, we thought legislators fixed or killed bills. Then
again, maybe not.
To us, at least, the most interesting-- perhaps operative--phrase
"BEHIND THE SCENES"
Interesting on two counts.
Interesting that the "advocates"
who advocate banning smokers (about 30% of the city's population) from
all public life have such easy and constant "behind-the-scenes" access--
such close ties to government.
Whereas smokers, as mere citizens, seem to have none. In fact,
we only learn about the "hearings" and "proposals" that will drastically
affect our lives at the very last minute, after they've been helpfully
crafted by the "advocates," or even after-the-fact. We are, as the
saying goes, out of the loop-- until, of course, the loop forms
the noose with which we're hung.
takes an interesting cast, when one compares what the advocates say "behind
the scenes" to what they say "in public."
This was especially telling in the debate on ventilation. They were
apparently careful to oppose it only "behind the scenes" since public
opposition would reveal (to the public) that their actual objective isn't
"smoke-free air," but a smoker-free world. i.e., Prohibition.
Mr. Glantz complains:
"The [NYC] advocates want
people outside NYC to do the heavy lifting while they continue to play
footsie with Vallone without raising any PUBLIC objections. Indeed, in
response to media questions, Cherner criticized (publicly) those of us
who are raising the issue. To do that publicly while privately urging us
to pressure Vallone is hypocritical."
Amen. And another day:
"Many people have expressed
concern about the horrible precedent that the NY ordinance [task force
clause] will set...The problem is that he [Joe] wants people from OUTSIDE
NY to take the heat of getting rid of it. "
To this point, Glantz notes that Cherner has continually "entreated"
him to solicit anti-ventilation testimony to the NYC Council from two of
his UCSF colleagues, Joanna Dearlove and Annemarie Charlesworth.
Both of whom testified. So did James Repace.
And though there was no advance public announcement of the hearings
(March 1, 2001)---no news items in the press, nothing posted on the Council
website, no information available through telephone inquiries-- lo, as
if by magic, the hearing room was two-thirds filled with Anti activists,
many from out of town. This leads us to several questions, applicable
to every city council everywhere:
WHOSE CITY IS IT, ANYWAY?
WHOSE COUNCIL IS IT, ANYWAY?
DO YOU REPRESENT YOUR CONSTITUENTS?
OR DO YOU ONLY REPRESENT THIS ORGANIZED
For what all the yapping on VENTILATION
was about, and for both sides of the argument, please see our earlier discussion
on the subject.