STATEMENT BY SMOKERS' RIGHTS GROUP ON SODA BAN HEARING HELD TODAY BY NYC DEPT. OF HEALTH

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First they came for the smokers...

July 24, 2012 (MMD Newswire) -- Though we are a smokers' rights group based in NYC we have always argued that our position is less about smoking and more about the slippery slope loss of civil liberties, the encroachment of the nanny state, infringement on private property rights and industry, and all things of that nature including, now, this proposal to ban sales of soda over a certain size.

Over the course of 11 years, since the unfortunate election of a man named Michael Bloomberg as Dear Leader of this city, we have learned through personal participation in the process that any hearing held on matters of alleged "public health" that seek to infringe upon the free choice of individuals to enjoy otherwise legal products by eliminating choice through force of law are nothing more than theatrical productions. The matter was decided the minute the idea entered Bloomberg's and his health police's (aka Health Commissioner Thomas Farley, aka hearing board members) heads.

The invitation to testify is motivated not by sought after genuine fairness but to create a perception of such. Where it's long held that government answers to the people a hearing should be "this is our idea, tell us what you think," instead of "this is what we're going to do, now convince us (ha ha) otherwise if you can."

We will no longer be a party to the charade for use as a show piece and refuse to attend this July 24th "hearing" in person. Written comment in opposition has been submitted only for the sake of the record alone.

The last hearing that C.L.A.S.H. founder, Audrey Silk, testified before was the one held by two city council committees on the proposal to ban smoking in parks, pedestrian plazas, and on beaches, Silk ended her testimony by saying: "Approve this and soon I'll be here again testifying against your plan to ban smoking in homes. Well I don't think so. This is where we draw the line. It's time to flip the script."

Approve it they did.

And what happened next? Bloomberg has proposed a multi-unit dwelling smoking policy bill where building owners will be forced to inform tenants about their building's smoking policy, that no doubt is the first step toward a fully legislated smoking ban.

Testify? I don't think so. It's time to ignore these imposters of representatives of a democracy and mock their cartoonish characters and circus antics instead. If we keep letting them believe that their field and their rules are the only ones to play on and by, by dancing at the end of their strings, these proposals will never end.

Less than a week ago we implored members of the beverage industry and all others groups and individuals that oppose this ban to stop practicing the definition of insanity by employing the traditional methods of protest -- in particular participating in today's hearing -- and expecting different results. We strongly advised them to likewise put their foot down and declare, "I will not attend." Leave the hearing board members sitting there alone with their orchestrated line-up of supporters. This is the flipped script that Silk spoke of.

There is no convincing men on a mission, like Commissioner Farley, of anything else when he ludicrously says, in order to support his position that this is any of goverment's business, that, "If a virus were killing 5,800 people this year, people would be clamoring for government action to stop it," as if an uninvited contagious disease ("virus") is comparable to a beverage choice by personal invitation.

Dropping off written comments strictly for the record and then snubbing this sham of a "hearing" would have a greater impact than attending in some tremendously blind misguided belief that anything said there will make one bit of difference. Especially now, in light of the fact that yesterday Bloomberg vindicated C.L.A.S.H.'s position by snorting, when asked what he thinks of the protests, "Nobody's going to stop this."

Finally, C.L.A.S.H. has warned that infringements on otherwise legal lifestyle choice wouldn't stop at smoking. Anyone compelled to blurt out "smoking is different" is to be willfully stubborn when the head nanny himself keeps saying it's the same. Bloomberg has compared "sugary drinks" to "asbestos and cigarettes" and with his war on smoking -- describing both as "bad habits that exploit the poor and less-educated."

...then they came for everyone else.

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NYC Citizens Lobbying Against Smoker Harassment (C.L.A.S.H.) is a grassroots organization established in 2000 dedicated to advancing and protecting the interests of adults who choose to smoke cigarettes or enjoy other forms of tobacco. C.L.A.S.H. has recently been responsible for NYS Office of Parks suspending its planned smoking bans this summer and has filed a lawsuit over same.

Contact: Audrey Silk, Founder

Phone: (917) 888-9317

Email: nycclash@nycclash.com

Web: www.nycclash.com

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