The hearing was held Monday, 2 August 1999, starting at 10:30 am, in the City Council Committee Room, 13th floor, City County Building, Detroit.

          Many came, supported the proposal. No lobbyists appeared against it. My testimony helped refute tobacco lobby disinformation that could have used to challenge the proposal.

          Below is a copy of my statement as filed, in the record.


Cigarettes Are Illegal

          Cigarette hazards were known a century ago, Austin v State of Tennessee, 179 US 343 (1900), upholding its 1897 cigarette ban. Cigarettes are illegal pursuant to MCL § 750.27, MSA § 28.216 (1909), and laws of the type that gave rise to case law including People v Carmichael, 5 Mich 10; 71 Am Dec 769 (1858); The Nurnberg Trial, 6 FRD 69 (1946); People v Kevorkian, 447 Mich 436, 494-6; 527 NW2d 714, 739-9 (1994). My contact with Governor John Engler resulted in two verifications of the law from James K. Haveman, Jr., Director of Department of Community Health.

Cigarette Advertising Aids and Abets Illegal Cigarette Sales
          Courts uphold cigarette advertising bans, e.g., Packer Corp v State of Utah, 285 US 105; 52 S Ct 273; 76 L Ed 2d 643 (1932), especially when ads aid and abet law violations, as here. Anheuser-Busch v Mayor and City Council, 855 F Supp 811 (D Md, 1994), aff'd 63 F3d 1305, remanded, 517 US 1206 aff'd 101 F3d 325 (CA 4, 1996); Penn Advertising v Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 862 F Supp 1401 (D Md, 1994), aff'd 63 F3d 1318 (CA 4, 1995), remanded 518 US 1030, aff'd 101 F3d 332 (1996). Nothing in freedom of the press allows aiding and abetting violation of laws (e.g., a stick-up note at a bank!). Indeed the writing itself—the very words—IS the crime!!

          When words lead to death, civil liability results, Paladin Enterprises, Inc v Rice, 128 F3d 233 (CA 4, 1997), and criminal liability, The Nurnberg Trial, 6 FRD 69, 161-163 (1946) (writer-publisher Julius Streicher was convicted and hanged for his pro-death media words). MCL § 750.38, MSA § 28.227 (1885) already bans cigarette ads. The ordinance is an effort to force compliance with already extant state and international law.

Cigarettes and Racism

          Cigarette ads target minorities. Tobacco is typically the gateway (starter) drug, age 11-12, so 90% of criminals are smokers. Racists deem it a "white" drug; arresting its pushers a burden on the judicial system; subsequent drugs in the drug sequence (cocaine, etc.), "black" drugs; disproportionately arresting blacks, NOT a burden on the judicial system. This type racism is the real truth behind the notorious Budzyn-Nevers situation.

          Your council president, Gilbert Hill, can verify, the Department NEVER enforces the cigarette ban, MCL § 750.27, only laws against post-gateway drugs—a policy of premeditated racism that not even the Coleman Young era eradicated. Due to this intentional, pervasive, systemic racism, the ordinance is needed as a duplicative effort to try to halt it. Attend Partnership meetings; talk privately to officers; you will verify the non-enforcement policy, including officer fear of being labeled a "whistleblower" if they enforce the law against the "white" drug cigarettes. The racists don't want to enforce the law; and the honest ones fear to.

          Ask yourselves, would you support arrests for illegal cigarette sales? If so, have you made that fact known? Have you ever spoken against the gateway drug? If not, why would the honest ones think you'd support them? Your silence tells the racist ones they can continue their racist policy of arresting blacks for post-gateway drugs, but never do a thing to arrest pushers of the gateway drug, the "white" drug. Worst case, do you use the gateway drug? If so, you are setting a bad example, encouraging crime and racism.

Cigarettes Are A Vestige of the Slavery Era

          Slavery involved raising tobacco (until cotton came along) and raping women. Our abolitionist ancestors knew that. Michigan was an abolitionist state, our cigarette ban can be seen as a boycott of a slave product, much like our modern era boycott of apartheid products. The proposed billboard ban ordinance, though duplicative, follows in that excellent pattern.

Related Aspects

Prior Detailed Testimony On The Same Subject


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Copyright © 1999 Leroy J. Pletten