New Plan of Action for Illinois - 2006

Illinois Smokers Rights

A grassroots organization devoted to
the promotion of limited government,
protection of personal property rights and
preservation of personal life style choices



Ms. Garnet Dawn
Midwest Regional Director
The Smokers Club, Inc.
Lake Bluff, IL 60044
garnetdawn@comcast.net




Executive Summary

Illinois Smokers Rights is a new organization being formed in Illinois to provide communication methods and public representation for defenders of tobacco usage by developing strategies to inform and help individuals oppose increased economic and social persecution. We concentrate upon defense of personal life style choices and private property rights as presented in our United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Illinois Smokers Rights is currently an independent website domain functioning as a chapter within The Smoker's Club, Inc., a national smokers rights organization based in New Hampshire.

Our goals for 2006 are to fight for fair and undiscriminatory taxing policies for the use of a legal product, promote reasonable consideration for smokers and non-smokers alike through proper ventilation of enclosed areas, and provide increased visibility for legitimate health studies based on sound science.

We plan to create new alliances within Illinois communities, colleges, newspapers, and private businesses to build a network of informed citizens on personal freedom issues. To date, we have employed the internet and e-mail contacts for visibility in addition to making occasional mailings of educational materials to politicians involved in the decision-making process concerning smoking bans and tobacco tax increases.

Planned activities include create a core of committed activists willing to study the issues and recruit others to join the cause, a newsletter, emailed calls to action, public speaking, media interviews, attendance at events, writing letters to editors and elected officials, hosting events, and meeting with elected officials. Illinois Smokers Rights expects to identify and help prepare additional spokespersons to communicate at an ever-growing number of venues.

Garnet Dawn Scheuer, the author of this proposal, has been active in smokers rights for the past two years, created the Illinois Smokers Group, a public Yahoo forum, the "Land of Lincoln Smokers Diary" blog, and the Illinois Smokers Rights website. She became Midwest Regional Director for The Smoker's Club, Inc. in 2005.


Mission Statement

Illinois Smokers Rights is a new organization being formed in Illinois to provide communication methods and public representation for defenders of tobacco usage by developing strategies to inform and help individuals oppose increased economic and social persecution. We concentrate upon defense of personal life style choices and private property rights as presented in our United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Smokers in Illinois, as in other states, are under attack by policymakers, advocates, and special interest groups cloaking their true objectives in the language of public health. As a result, taxes on tobacco products have reached levels far beyond what is either fair or necessary to pay for whatever costs smokers impose on society. Restrictions on when and where smoking is allowed go far beyond health requirements and have become punitive.

The private property rights of restaurant and tavern owners are clearly threatened by smoking bans, pursued in the name of a mythical "right" to eat or drink in a smokefree environment in every privately owned establishment in the state, regardless of the preferences of the owners of those establishments or their customers.

In principle, we do not recognize that the state has the right to legislate the behavior of citizens when it comes to personal choice and lifestyle, regardless of the reason used to justify such interference. We stand tall for the rights of smokers and aim to represent them wherever matters of smoking policy are considered.


Organization

Illinois Smokers Rights is an independent website domain, functioning as a chapter within The Smoker's Club, Inc., a smokers rights organization based in New Hampshire.

The Smokers Club, Inc. is a resource for state and local groups, a media clearinghouse for "the other side of the story," and an online community of smokers rights defenders.

Founded in 1994 in Massachusetts, its United Pro Choice Smokers Rights Newsletter is the only smokers' rights newsletter dealing with various freedom topics. With over 350 weekly issues, the newsletter is the leading source of news and resources for smokers rights advocates in the U.S., attracting some 150 million yearly hits to the Club's Web site. While there are no formal chapters or membership lists yet, the organization's reach firmly stretches across the U.S. and beyond its borders. The Action Committee functions as the core staff for the Club, while the USA Regional Directors respond to interview requests based on geographic location. Regional Directors are listed on the Club website, including a listing of individual states within each region and e-mail contact addresses for each director. The United States territories are divided into New England (Darlene Brennan), Mid-Atlantic (Michael J. McFadden), Southeast (Bob Pritchard), Midwest (Garnet Dawn), Assistant Midwest (David W. Kuneman), Southwest (Jack G. Ritchie Jr.) and Western (Sandy Sanden). An organizational chart appears at the end of this proposal.

The Club has organized and hosted annual smokers' rights conferences for several years, with the most recent event held in Las Vegas, Nevada at Caesar's Palace for three days in June of 2005. Plans are underway for the 2006 conference.

The Smoker's Club, Inc. has developed as a grassroots and voluntary organization. With the continued development of server capabilities, various new domains are already receiving Club support for their Web sites. In addition, training and assistance are available to cover all aspects of activism, computer use and Web page creation.


Goals

Our goals include:


We plan to create new alliances within Illinois communities, colleges, newspapers, and private businesses to build a network of informed citizens on personal freedom issues. To date, we have employed the internet and e-mail contacts for visibility in addition to making occasional mailings of educational materials to politicians involved in the decision-making process concerning smoking bans and tobacco tax increases.

In 2006 and beyond we will fight for fair and undiscriminatory taxing policies for the use of a legal product, promote reasonable consideration for smokers and non-smokers alike through proper ventilation of enclosed areas, and provide increased visibility for legitimate health studies based on sound science.


About Garnet Dawn

Ms. Garnet Dawn became involved with smokers rights two years ago. She created the Illinois Smokers Group, a public Yahoo forum for smokers feeling isolated by growing social stigma while facing increased tax discrimination with nowhere to communicate or exchange their ideas, objections, questions and information.

Garnet also created the "Land of Lincoln Smokers Diary, a blog, and the Illinois Smokers Rights website in 2005 and became Midwest Regional Director for The Smoker's Club, Inc. In her Midwest Regional Director capacity, Garnet responds to media interview requests from newspapers, radio and television to present smoking advocate and personal property rights viewpoints, representing Illinois Smokers Rights and The Smoker's Club, Inc.

In 2005, Scheuer has been quoted by Milwaukee M Magazine, newspapers in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Wyoming and New Jersey; been a guest on Las Vegas and Wisconsin public radio programs; interviewed on radio news in Arizona and Ohio, taped by university students and appeared in a debate on Channel 26, "North Halsted," on Chicago public television. She also attended the "2005 National Conference on Tobacco or Health" in Chicago in May 2005 and the International Smokers Rights Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada in June.

Garnet is a native of Illinois. She was born in Chicago and raised in suburban, Northbrook, Illinois. After graduation from Glenbrook North high school, she relocated to southern California and then Phoenix, Arizona for several years before returning to Illinois. She was employed by Advance Transformer Co., Chicago; Soiltest, Inc., Lake Bluff; and Liquid Controls Corporation, Lake Bluff in purchasing capacities from 1985 to 1995.

During 1995 she became involved in the Fort Sheridan Joint Planning Committee. Upon the dissolution of the FSJPC, she entered employment with Lake Forest branch of A.G. Edwards and Sons, Inc., from 1996 into 2000. Over the past five years, Garnet has been devoting time to family, family real estate, traveling and become active in smokers rights.


Programs

Anticipated programs of Illinois Smokers Rights in 2006 include the following:

1. Build a bigger list of members and allies beginning with e-mail addresses and contact information currently developed by Illinois Smokers Rights, The Heartland Institute, and other sympathetic organizations. Currently this list contains more than 200 names. We will add new allies from college libertarian groups, letter writers to newspapers, chambers of commerce, and restaurant, bar, bowling alley and private club owners and managers.

2. Host regular meetings for smokers and interested parties to discuss public relevant smoking issues. Each month, members and allies will be invited to come together to share ideas, plot strategy, and perhaps to hear speakers. These will initially be located in Chicago and its North Shore suburbs, areas under heavy threat from smoking bans in 2006 and is also the home location of Illinois Smokers Rights.

3. Launch a bi-weekly e-newsletter containing selected Illinois and national news topics for interested readers. The newsletter will alert members to pending legislation and new research and commentary on issues important to smokers.

4. Launch calls for action to the growing list of allies and supporters with links to "letter-to-the editor" editors, elected officials, and regulators to respond to current pending local, state and federal legislation. (Many environmental groups currently enable their e-mail newsletter readers to petition legislators with pre-written letters about pending laws by entering only basic personal information. We expect to follow their lead.)

5. Create a Speakers Bureau of smokers rights advocates willing to appear at hearings, meetings, and conferences in Illinois. Potential speakers will need to be trained to avoid making claims that cannot be supported by sound research. Potential speakers are identified in the box on this page.

The speakers' travel expenses and honoraria would need to be determined, but costs would be reasonable. We will create a demand for our speakers through mailings and follow-up phone calls to local chambers of commerce, community clubs, and through political contacts.

6. Increase hard copy postal mailing of educational materials and pertinent information beyond currently compiled lists of city and state political officials. The Heartland Institute has offered use of its complete lists of state and local elected officials and extensive media lists. For example, a selected mailing of copies of Michael McFadden's Dissecting Antismokers' Brains and/or a customized version of his 25-page report, Why You Should Fight A Smoking Ban may generate attention among reporters and elected officials.

7. An expanded op-ed and news release program will put defenses of smokers into the hands of Chicago and other Illinois newspapers on a frequent basis. We will create a regular schedule for these submissions and post them on the Illinois Smokers Rights and The Smoker's Club, Inc. Web sites. Ms. Dawn has an extensive reference file of letters sent to editors in the past two years that can serve as a resource for this effort.

8. Produce new pro-smoker literature for distribution by mail or by hand at public events. We have produced a "Stop the Chicago Smoking Ban" two-sided flier and have linked it on Illinois Smokers Rights and The United Pro Choice Smokers Rights Newsletter for easy printing by individual smoking advocates. In addition to internet on-line availability of smoker's rights fliers, in 2006 we plan to have professionally printed quantities of these educational tools available for distribution to interested businesses, groups and residents.

9. Plan and execute meetings with local and state elected officials, beginning with Lake and Cook counties, and reaching as many municipalities in the areas as may be considering smoking bans in 2006 as the result of the passage of The Illinois Clean Air Act Amendment in 2005.

10. Contribute toward the legal defense of individuals for breaking unconstitutional smoking ban ordinances and resisting the retroactive collection of Illinois sales taxes from persons who purchased cigarettes online.

11. Place advertising in Internet news sources, radio, and alternative newspapers to promote informal member meetings and protests in Chicago and the North Shore suburbs, including pro-smoking give-away items for attendees. We have already been approached by "The Onion", but lacked the funds to take advantage of their circulation through advertising. In this vein, we would like to explore the possibility of creating public service announcement type ads and having them aired at no charge.

12. Create inexpensive free promotional items, such as pens and matchbooks featuring an Illinois Smokers Rights logo to help build a sense of membership and pride among our supporters. The Illinois Smokers Rights Web site currently has a link, under The Smokers Club, Inc., with Cafe Press for the sale of a variety of Illinois smoking logo items.


Conclusion

Smoking bans and discriminatory tobacco taxes are a growing threat to our individual liberty and private property rights. Passage in December 2005 of the Chicago smoking ban and implementation starting in January 2006 of the Illinois Indoor Air Act - Home Rule are clear evidence that the battle is going on here in Illinois.

It is imperative that more people come to understand that attacks on the legal rights of smokers are also threats to everyone's rights under the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights. Until now, smokers rights activists have lacked the organization and the resources to combat the well-funded public health advocacy groups that dominate the public debate.

We can begin to reverse the trends toward ever-more abusive government regulation of smokers lifestyles. Only through activities including research, writing, meeting with other activists, and communicating with Illinois' elected officials will we be effective.

To become part of this exciting new project, please contact:

______________________________
Garnet Dawn - The Smoker's Club, Inc. - Midwest Regional Director
The United Pro Choice Smokers Rights Newsletter - http://www.smokersclubinc.com
Illinois Smokers Rights - http://www.illinoissmokersrights.com
Illinois Smokers Forum - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/illinoissmokers/
garnetdawn@comcast.net - Respect Freedom of Choice!




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