William Meyers is obviously passionate about politics and willing to spend lots of time volunteering for political causes, which is commendable.
But I am hard-pressed to think of any activist who has applied himself in a more self-defeating and counter-productive way than Meyers. First he declared himself an independent candidate for Congress after losing the fourth district primary–a move I still think he will regret someday.
Now I learn from Iowa Independent that Meyers has launched a new website against Iowa’s smoking ban. I spent a little time on repealthesmokingban.org. The “leaders” page lists Meyers as the founder and online coordinator of Repealthesmokingban.org and former Republican State Senator George Eichhorn as the attorney representing bar and restaurant owners who are fighting the ban. (I don’t give that lawsuit much chance of succeeding.)
Not surprisingly, Meyers’ website disputes evidence of the harm caused by secondhand smoke. It also contains a page listing bars and restaurants all over the country that have closed, allegedly because of local smoking bans.
Guess what? Lots of restaurants and bars go out of business, whether or not they permit smoking. If I’m not mistaken, 50 percent of restaurants fail during their first year of operation. Competition is fierce, and food and transportation costs are rising while the public’s disposable income is dropping.
But there is simply no credible evidence that smoking bans are bad for business. On the contrary, research supports the opposite conclusion.
Meyers’ new website has a page seeking to recruit volunteers in every Iowa county. Repealthesmokingban.org has also grouped counties into 11 clusters and is seeking a district coordinator in each.
If people want to lobby legislators to repeal the smoking ban, it’s a free country. I don’t object to people organizing toward that end, even if I think Meyers is wrong on this issue.
What really bothers me about the website is the page listing the “nannies” (Chet Culver and all the legislators who supported the smoking ban):
CONTACT THEM AND DEMAND REPEAL! – REMEMBER THEM ON VOTING DAY!
The Nannies….anyone who thinks they should be able to tell other adults how to live. The militantly anti-anything-else-they-see-someone-else-enjoying.
Never mind the nonsensical spin about people being “militantly anti-anything-else-they-see-someone-else-enjoying.” No one is trying to deprive Meyers or anyone else the pleasure of smoking in the privacy of his own home. But your right to enjoy a cigarette doesn’t give you the right to jeopardize someone else’e health.
This website goes way beyond lobbying legislators to repeal the smoking ban. By asking voters to “remember” the “nannies” on election day, Meyers is in effect urging Iowans to vote Democrats out of their legislative majority.
Here’s a link to the roll call votes in the Iowa House and Senate on the final version of the smoking ban bill.
In the House, 45 Democrats and nine Republicans voted yes.
In the Senate, 25 Democrats and one Republican voted yes.
As if Meyers hasn’t done enough damage to his political future by refusing to accept the outcome of the fourth district primary, he is now mobilizing angry smokers to cast their votes based on that one issue.
I find it interesting that Meyers supported Barack Obama’s campaign in Iowa. I wonder if he heard what Obama said at a presidential debate last September when asked whether he would support a national law to ban smoking in public places:
I think that local communities are making enormous strides, and I think they’re doing the right thing on this. If it turns out that we’re not seeing enough progress at the local level, then I would favor a national law. I don’t think we’ve seen the local laws play themselves out entirely, because I think you’re seeing an enormous amount of progress in Chicago, in New York, in other major cities around the country. And because I think we have been treating this as a public health problem and educating the public on the dangers of secondhand smoke, that that pressure will continue. As I said, if we can’t provide these kinds of protections at the local level, which would be my preference, I would be supportive of a national law.
Oh, no! Obama thinks that communities are “doing the right thing” to ban smoking in public, but he would support a federal law on the issue if the local ordinances are not adequately protecting Americans against secondhand smoke.
Attention, field organizers for Obama: don’t give William Meyers any numbers to call or doors to knock this fall. For all we know, he’ll go around telling people not to vote for the “nanny.”