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Published: Thursday, 1/29/2004

'Taverns for Tots' clubs are a sham

The Taverns for Tots movement threatens Toledo in more subtle ways than adding smoke-filled rooms.

I lived in Oklahoma under laws that banned liquor sales in restaurants, but allowed them in private clubs. Restaurants regularly sold liquor under the guise of also running a private club on the premises. To be a member of the "club" all you had to do was come to the restaurant. They sometimes even gave you a membership card when you placed your order.

Everyone understood the whole scheme was a fraud. Liquor control officers would occasionally raid a restaurant, be "surprised" to find liquor sales, and close the place down for a week or two. Then the process would start over.

The potential for graft was enormous, as was the cost to public perceptions about living under the law. We should not let that happen here.

Roger W. Andersen

Talmadge Road

Can Stu Kerr be any more pompous? How dare he suggest that we would open our businesses to Cub Scouts or Campfire Girls? How dare he suggest that we are not upstanding businesses? The customers in my business are lawyers, doctors, policemen, garbage men, factory workers, etc. My customers work hard for their paychecks and if they want to have a cigarette with their drink they should be allowed to do so.

We are legitimate businesses. We care about the community. Every time the Children's Miracle Network and Muscular Dystrophy Association needs money, it comes to the taverns for help.

The difference between Mr. Kerr and God is that God does not think he is a coordinator for Tobacco-Free Ohio

DEB WEXLER

W. Benalex Drive

I wonder if Taverns for Tots is going to help pay the bills for all the kids who have cystic fibrosis, emphysema, and asthma as a result of their wonderful loving parents constantly smoking around them in the house and the car and the establishments where smoking is allowed.

CHRISTOPHER TRUSDLE

Springfield Township

A Jan. 21 editorial made two statements that need addressing.

First: "Instead of accepting the inevitable and simply going smoke-free, [Bill] Delaney, Arnie Elzey, and other bar owners continue to play a fool's game of delay. Why should nonsmokers have to imperil their health to patronize these places?"

Well the simple answer is nonsmokers do not have to "imperil their health" to patronize these places. Nobody is forcing anybody to patronize these places. If you don't like these establishments, then just don't go in them. I'm sure Mr. Delaney's and Mr. Elzey's business will not be hurt by these "nonsmokers" not patronizing them.

Second: "Even if Taverns for Tots moves to establish bylaws, elect officers, and otherwise comply with the requirements for obtaining exemptions as private clubs, the City should recognize the group for what it is - a transparent, hypocritical attempt to ignore public sentiment, and the law - and find a way to end this charade."

Ignore public sentiment? How do we know we are ignoring the public sentiment? I believe this is The Blade's sentiment and Mayor Jack Ford's sentiment. After all, we do not know if this is the public's sentiment because the public did not have a chance to vote on this issue. It was simply forced upon us by our mayor and special interest groups.

As a nonsmoker, I will continue to fight for the bar owners in this case. Toledo does not need its major newspaper and city government forcing a ridiculous law upon us that will clearly put people out of business and leave workers without jobs.

TOM KENNY

Broadway

I am not entirely clear on the philanthropic intentions of Taverns for Tots, but I sure hope they will consider a trust fund for the children of their patrons who die prematurely of smoking-related illness.

ANN CIPRIANI

Coldstream Road

I haven't heard much about Toledo's inability to innovate lately. I think I know why: You can't make this stuff up.

1. Instead of catering to both nonsmokers and smokers, some Toledo bar owners and patrons would rather alienate a large group of potential customers and exercise their rights to free absurdity.

By creating Taverns for Tots, the club members inadvertently remind us of those who will suffer the greatest loss from their tobacco use: their own grandkids. By their 60s and 70s these smokers could well have already passed on. After putting so much energy into defending their right to premature departure, the least they can do is buy some toys for the little ones before they go.

2. Until this month, I had forgotten that Ray Kest still manages the taxpayers' money. It was strange to write another check to Ray. Maybe we should be writing them to the Lucas County Treasury to avoid confusion.

NATHAN LIGHT

Parkside Boulevard

Taverns for Tots bar owners don't need to be embarrassed for trying to save their businesses, but The Blade should be embarrassed. You say that "nonsmokers have to imperil their health to patronize these places."

Excuse me? Are you serious? Since when does anyone have to patronize a bar? Nonsmokers can and should stay out of smoking bars so as not to imperil their health. They should go to restaurants and bars that don't allow smoking and people who want to smoke should go to bars that allow it.

This should be a matter of free choice for all adults. No one is forced to patronize or work in a place that permits smoking. Why can't you allow for a system that provides a choice of smoking and nonsmoking environments?

If The Blade sees smoking as "an overriding issue of public health," then there is another place to focus on. In Toledo there are many places where people are forced to endure secondhand smoke. These are places where they have no choice, where they can't get away from it, and where they have no legal recourse.

I'm talking about children who live in homes with parents who smoke. This is where you should direct your attention if you want to have the greatest impact on public safety and health.

Robert A. Kelso

Sylvania

Smoking ban! About rights! You bet! The nonsmoker screams it's about my rights. The smoker screams it's about my rights. The employee screams it's about my rights. And the business owner screams it's about his or her rights. Guess what?

All four groups are correct.

The right that gets lost in this squabble is the right to choose.

The nonsmoker has the right to choose where he or she wants to have dinner or have a cocktail without being subjected to secondhand smoke. Make that choice. Stand behind that choice. Don't whine if you chose to enter a smoking establishment. No one forced you to enter.

The smoker has the right to have a smoke with his or her cocktail or after dinner. Make that choice. Stand behind that choice. Don't whine if you chose to enter an establishment that doesn't allow smoking. No one forced you to enter.

The employee wants to work in a nonsmoking environment. Make that choice. Stand behind that choice. Don't whine if you chose to work for a business that allows smoking. No one forced you to take the job.

The business owner has the right to cater to the clientele that best supports his or her establishment without interference from anyone. If you don't have the intestinal fortitude to make a choice for yourself, it is not the fault of the business. It's yours.

The Blade, Mayor Jack Ford, and Toledo City Council have informed the above groups that they are unable to make a choice on their own. Smoking ban! About rights! You bet!

KEN ARMER

Naomi Drive

"Taverns for Tots" sounds like the name of a place to take the little tykes for lessons on how to down a shot followed by a smooth chaser of B.S!

Joanne Horen

Densmore Drive



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