Aug 16, 2010
American Legion Post breaks the law they vowed to uphold
In my 20 year Navy career, I never once thought that service made me above the law or that I didn’t have to follow the laws of the state or nation; someone should tell that to the members of American Legion Post 444 in Baraga at the base of the Keweenaw Bay in the Upper Peninsula.
They are breaking the state’s workplace smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants that went into effect on May 1, making the ridiculous claim that deadly secondhand is “what freedom looks like,” according to auxiliary post member Anita Shepard. No, it’s what flouting and disregarding the law looks like.
Post spokesman Joseph O'Leary claims its “not about the smoking, It's about the right to choose to allow the use of a legal substance on our property.“ No, the workplace smoking ban is a public health issue, and it’s about protecting the 80 percent of the population who choose not to endanger their health.
This is not the first time military veterans have made the claim that their service has earned them the right to ignore the law. Even before the law went into effect, American Legion posts and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts launched a petition drive with the claim that the law didn’t apply to them.
Even military leaders have long recognized the harmful effects of smoking, both first and secondhand smoke, and they banned it on ships some 20 years ago. Just last spring the U.S. Navy banned smoking on submarines, despite having the most advanced atmosphere purification technology in the world.
But the post in Baraga has gone farther than anyone in breaking the law, and Post Commander Rick Geroux issued a notice to members and employees that he thinks his post is above the law and would not follow it.
According to reporter Dawson Bell, “several citizen complaints were filed about the post's noncompliance, and local health officials sent notices of violation. Geroux responded with a news release July 16 that described the new law as unconstitutional and un-American.”
That is just per BS. I challenge Mr. Geroux to show me where in the Constitution it says you have a right to smoke. The fact is the government has an obligation to protect the public from poison like secondhand smoke and other deadly substances, and if anything it’s un-American not to protect the public from deadly substances.
The article said “several of the elder statesmen point out the government provided the smokes and hooked them on the habit when they were in the service.” That is simply not true. No doubt the military practically encouraged serviceberry to smoke, but over the last couple of decades it has tried to correct that mistake.
Tobacco companies did provide free cigarettes during World War II, but that was as big a PR move as big tobacco spending billions of dollars to convince people they have some kind of constitutional right to smoke. But it was more than PR; it was an investment by hooking millions of young men that earned them billons of dollars over the years, despite the clear scientific proof of the harmful health effects of smoking.