The advertising flyer arrived in my mailbox last week. I knew right away that it was very important from the headline on the document.
"Secondhand smoke is dangerous for everyone, period." is what the headline said.
You ALWAYS know a sentence is especially important when it has both a period AND spells out "period." Considering that the headline was alerting me to an apparently life-or-death situation I think "Secondhand smoke is dangerous for everyone, exclamation point!" would have been more appropriate.
A period just isn't suitable when danger is involved. For instance, no one knew danger better than Lassie. But when danger was afoot on the long-running TV series, Lassie's master Jeff never said, "Lassie, go get help." in a monotone voice like Ben Stein taking attendance in Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Heck no! Jeff would yell, "Lassie, go get HELP, EXCLAMATION POINT!"
But perhaps the Citizens for a Smoke-Free Cape -- that's the group trying to ban smoking in all indoor public places within the city of Cape Girardeau and who reputedly paid for this flyer -- didn't want to be too pushy in their quest to clear the public air space in town. Frankly, an exclamation point can be construed by a lot of people as pushy punctuation.
The flyer I was mailed is a slick piece of work. I'm sure that the Campaign Workshop, a Washington DC-based PR firm who was reportedly paid $69,600 for their services to help get this local initiative passed is entirely responsible for the work.
I guess there aren't any area ad agencies -- or even in the Midwest -- that can handle this kind of campaign. It's just not their forte. When you're trying to sway the rubes, it's always best to go with professional manipulators you find ensconced in Washington, DC.
Those DC people might be schemers, well versed in creating political campaigns designed to woo the masses, but they aren't stupid. They probably know our market better than we know ourselves. That's why the photo on the flyer features what is presumably a mother and her two young sons with a subhead which says, "It's about our kids." The "it" in the sentence refers to the Cape Girardeau Smoke-Free Air Act.
A lot of Cape Girardeau citizens are suckers for their kids, any kids. If something is promoted locally for benefiting "the children" then they say, "By golly it must be OK." They don't necessarily evaluate the information they are being given. They just slap on those rose-colored glasses, re-adjust their blinders and happily believe whatever they've been told since after all it is for The Children and you must be a pariah if you disagree.
That's why I expect this ordinance to pass because the health of The Children is at risk. Or so we are being led to believe.
I don't disagree with the health risks of second hand smoke. Smoke of any kind is bad for you. Personally, I'd like to see leaf burning banned in the city and I wasn't too happy when a neighbor chose to dispose of a pile of old pressure treated fencing with a bonfire.
However, I do disagree with the attempt to make this legal habit appear to be a locally wide spread health epidemic. One who doesn't live here might assume that parents are puffing away while their kids play nearby in the McDonald's ball pit.
But that's not the case. Most local businesses already either restrict smoking on their premises or prohibit it all together. The exceptions are the bars downtown and most of the restaurants that also serve alcohol.
And it is adults, not children that those businesses primarily cater to. The adults who frequent these establishments are free to make their own decisions such as smoking a legal substance or choosing to work in a place where partaking in tobacco is not frowned upon. The managers of those businesses have also made a choice to permit smoking on their premises. And conversely some people choose not to frequent those businesses because they permit smoking.
I feel this whole issue boils down to the choices adults make and children have little to do with it no matter what the DC spin doctors try to make us think, period.