Editor, Daily Press:

This is an open letter to the Tahlequah City Council members.

At your upcoming council meeting, you will be considering an ordinance to restrict tobacco use in the city of Tahlequah. Prior to that, you will, in opening ceremonies, pledge allegiance to the American flag.

Part of that pledge is a guiding principal of our American heritage: “ ... liberty and justice for all.” Adjacent to the American flag in city council chambers is the Oklahoma flag, which displays a symbol of Cherokee heritage: a tobacco pipe.

To pass this ordinance restricting the liberty of businesses in our city, and citizens in our community, dishonors both our American heritage of liberty and the Cherokee heritage of tobacco. The Cherokee people have a long tradition of seeking to protect their tobacco from regulation by the government (see “The Cherokee Tobacco,” 78 U.S. 616 [1870].)

The proposed ordinance instead follows another heritage, that of Adolph Hitler. His national socialism sought to control business through regulation and instituted laws restricting tobacco use. In Hitler’s Nazi Germany, smoking was banned in many workplaces, government offices, hospitals and rest homes. The National Socialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei announced a ban on smoking in its offices in 1939. Hitler is reported to have called tobacco “the wrath of Red Man against the white man for having been given hard liquor.”

In contrast to this, a defender of individual liberty, Ayn Rand, in her 1957 novel, “Atlas Shrugged,” promotes the appropriate use of tobacco, having a character say: “I like cigarettes. I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.”

When you decide how to vote on Ordinance 1122-2007, I encourage you to consider whether you wish Tahlequah to be the “land of the free,” or the “land of the smoke-free.”

John Yeutter


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