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Kansas Bar Owner Fights for Property Rights Across the U.S.

By   /   June 16, 2011  /   11 Comments

The 2011 Kansas Legislature made no changes to the statewide smoking ban enacted in the 2010 session, but other states and communities around the U.S.  are beginning to recognize that smoking bans hurt businesses and reduce tax revenues. Some communities are rolling back or rejecting smoking bans and a Kansas bar owner is helping make it happen.

The American Beverage Licensees association recognized Sheila Martin, owner of the Top Hat private club in Hutchinson, as the Kansas Retailer of the Year at their annual convention in Milwaukee Tuesday.

The award is given annually to recognize and honor dedicated members of ABL’s affiliates. Phil Bradley, CEO of the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association (KLBA), an ABL affiliate, said he nominated Martin because she is an extraordinary example of people sacrificing their own resources to help defend the rights of others.

Sheila told a rally in Topeka in April that the battle isn’t about smoking. “The fight is going on. It’s physical. It’s in the trenches for property rights. This is not about smoking; it’s about your property rights. We do not want to be New York. We do not want the mayor telling you, you can’t have sugar.“

“We’re going to protect property rights because that’s what this country was built on,” Martin said.

“She’s working not just for people all over the state but now for people all over the nation,” Bradley said. “She’s being called on more and more by people who are referring her by word of mouth. People call and say, ‘Sheila, I don’t know you but such and such told me about you, I need your help.”

“My ‘boots on the ground’ campaign is getting the locals connected and getting them up to speed on tactics. Then I get the info out to the nationwide fighters,” Martin said in a recent email to KansasWatchdog.

Bradley said Martin and others give him hope for better protection of property rights. “Elected officials are listening to them and deciding that there are economic consequences of the bans and there are businesses where you can allow your patrons to do the kinds of legal things they want to do — and it’s OK for the community. Most importantly for the first time ever we have people who are overturning or modifying existing bans. It’s a long road ahead but I’m very please with what’s happening.”

Martin’s efforts have no direct benefit on her business because her bar is already exempt from the statewide smoking ban. Top Hat is a private club established before the cutoff date specified in the statewide ban legislation.

Smoking bans are an affront to personal liberties and just don’t make sense according to Martin. “Smokers do not ‘get used to not smoking in a bar,’ they simply buy beer at the liquor store and go home or to a friend’s home.”

“Liquor stores are doing great, but they don’t collect the extra 10% liquor excise tax that the bars do,” Martin said. “Even with recent huge increases in liquor prices and the resulting price hike at point of sale, Kansas is down on revenue (from liquor sales in bars).”

Smoking ban proponents claimed that bans would not hurt business in Kansas but business closures and tax revenue data paints a different picture.

Illinois and Michigan both reported dramatic declines in gaming revenue after implementing statewide smoking bans. Since 2008, when the smoking ban was put in place there Illinois has seen a 32 percent decline in gaming revenue that has cost the state about $800 million in tax revenue.

Michigan is also experiencing a reduction in state revenue from gaming in bars and other private businesses, down about $80 million dollars since their smoking ban went into effect.

Kansas exempted its casinos from the smoking ban to prevent state gaming losses. A bill presented this year would have removed the casino exemption but failed to make it out of the Legislature.

Bradley said he’s optimistic. “At some point all these businesses are going to understand that whether it’s smoking or hours of operation or parking or patios, these property rights issues are things that they all need to be concerned about. If you help with what’s bothering your neighbor, they’re going to help you with yours.”


“It does not take a majority to prevail … but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men.”

— Samuel Adams



Clearing the Air on Smoking Ban Revenue Claims

Pitcher Beer Pricing Policy May Fall Flat

Michigan Bar Owners Boycott Lottery in Smoking Ban Protest

Smoking Ban Protesters Gathering for Ceremonial Signing in Salina

Governor Candidates Against Statewide Smoking Ban, Casino Hypocrisy

Three Years After Smoking Ban, Ohioans Favor Exempting Bars

St. Louis Fed: No Ifs, Ands or Butts, Smoking Ban Hurt Revenues

Smoking Ban Passes House, Governor Says He’ll Sign

Senate, in Push for Smoking Ban Exempting Casinos, Cancels House Meeting

Smoking Ban Advocate Says Some Claims Just Smoke


Paul formerly served as staff reporter for Watchdog.org.

  • Banatu

    Awesome! I am so sick of this nanny-state business and all the whiney busy-bodies trying to tell everyone else how to live. I really miss the days when the worst you had to put up with was those religious fanatics always knocking on the door.

    If you think there’s such a demand for non-smoking establishments, then take advantage of a great business opportunity and open one! Leave the rest of us alone!!

    Keep up the good fight, Sheila!

  • harleyrider

    Don’t fret over list of cancer ‘risks’


    [[“We are being bombarded” with messages about the dangers posed by common things in our lives, yet most exposures “are not at a level that are going to cause cancer,” said Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, the American Cancer Society’s deputy chief medical officer.

    Linda Birnbaum agrees. She is a toxicologist who heads the government agency that just declared styrene, an ingredient in fiberglass boats and Styrofoam, a likely cancer risk.

    “Let me put your mind at ease right away about Styrofoam,” she said. Levels of styrene that leach from food containers “are hundreds if not thousands of times lower than have occurred in the occupational setting,” where the chemical in vapor form poses a possible risk to workers.

    Carcinogens are things that can cause cancer, but that label doesn’t mean that they will or that they pose a risk to anyone exposed to them in any amount at any time.]]

    The ACS just shot their own second hand smoke junk science right in the foot……….lmao!

    [[are hundreds if not thousands of times lower than have occurred in the occupational setting,” where the chemical in vapor form poses a possible risk to workers.]]

    Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, Vol. 14, No. 1. (August 1991), pp. 88-105.

    [[ETS between 10,000- and 100,000-fold less than estimated average MSS-RSP doses for active smokers]]


    [[OSHA the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded]]



  • The Baker

    Thank you Sheila for reminding everyone that this isn’t so much about smoking as much as it is property rights. Whether a person loves smoking or doesn’t isn’t the point…it’s PROPERTY RIGHTS. Adults are capable of determining where they want to spend their money at.

  • Sheila

    Colorado lowering tax on casinos due to smoking ban business losses.

    Illinois down $800,000,000 in casino tax revenue, in three years, due to smoking ban.

    Michigan down $80,000,000 in one year, in bar gaming tax revenue, due to smoking ban.

    Ohio, over 400 small businesses have closed, due to smoking ban.

    Bars closing across America. Small, family owned places.

    Illegal lobbying going on by non profit “charities”.

    Johnson and Johnson funding this, and making a fortune from their Nicotine replacement products.

    Pharma and insurance companies writing Heathcare Bills to increase their own bottom lines.

    Our Senators refuse to investigate complaints about these activities. The IRS will not look at complaints re this illegal lobbying activity.

    Follow the money, kids. This is as ugly as it gets. Both parties and the Justice Department, the FDA, the EPA, the American Cancer Society, our own KU. FOLLOW THE MONEY! Let’s get this stopped!

    Call your paper, radio, your local Representatives. Let them know that this is going to be exposed, and those who collaborated in the taking of property rights based on NOTHING but greed will be stopped!

    If you don’t think that one little voice can make a difference, you are wrong!

    And, for God’s sake, call Brownback and his new Office of the Repealer. If this bunk isn’t going to be repealed, then the Office of the Repealer is a JOKE!

  • Scott

    Just asking ?

    is is possible the revenue reductions could also be tied to the economy ?

    It seems that this was about the time that money got scarce for a lot of people.

    Otherwise, as much as I hate smoking, I would like to see the bans repealed. I am against the government getting involved like this.

  • Sheila

    Scott. Consider your statement. Revenue reductions were caused by smoking bans, not the other way around. Kansas is not only losing liquor enforcement tax revenue, but many people are NOT buying ANY Kansas tax stamped tobacco products in protest of the taking of property rights.

    Brownback said that the bans should have been left under local control. (That was before the election.) He can repeal the smoking ban in adult’s only businesses. WHEN WILL HE?

    In the meantime we will continue to watch businesses fail and we will see more empty buildings and people, who used to be able to afford to buy cars and houses and clothing, will not be contributing, as they always, have to our communities.

  • Sheila

    Kansas lost over 130 on premise State locensed bars in the first fiscal year of the ban according to the Department of Rev License Report.

    Repealer! Repeal the ban in adult’s only PRIVATELY owned businesses!

  • Kevin

    If we were to apply the same levels of risk management analysis, to the tremendous downside, that the zealots will always deny even exists, smoking bans and cigarette taxes would be seen for what they are, as an act of abusive parents among politicians who no longer see us as intelligent and competent adults, with an ability to think and make choices on our own. Far better equipped to raise our own children than any extremist left of left government agency or lobby group ever could,

    For many years there has been a sustained observational reality that can not be denied. The very reason that smoking was encouraged in triage areas and the same primary reason it is so difficult to launch a biological attack against the industrialized world. The physical attributes of tobacco smoke, as a fine particulate, it is sticky in nature and it has the ability to attract and trap ultra fine particulate matter, such as, is produced, by diesel exhaust and the burning of coal. Beyond that, the ability to trap and mitigate much of the dangers biological agents in our airspace, if you cough in a smoke free room the germs you spread will reach everyone else in that room unimpeded. With smoke in the room, we see a mask that prevents most of those germs from reaching anyone else in the room. Consider the impact when a deadly virus is spreading among the general population and you start to appreciate why; years ago it was mandatory for children to smoke in classrooms and on the battlefield Doctors smoked and offered cigarettes to the wounded right in the operating rooms. Smoke purifies the air and in spite of the smell you are much safer in a crowded room filled with smoke, than any “smoke free environment”, with few exceptions. Hospitals as the norm, as little as two decades ago welcomed children into the world with parents and Doctors alike, smoking not 20 feet away in the waiting areas. Be careful what you wish for rings true and the evidence is seen today with many biological outbreaks happening right inside hospitals; explained, “because Doctors don’t wash their hands as often as they should”? Inhalation risks are not spread by your hands they are floating freebase in the air. How many will die by the common flue next year? The sky is the limit. Nasty pictures on cigarette packages, the incitement that “smokers are killing babies”, “smokers cost the rest of us a fortune in hospital costs”, or that “you won’t die at all if you eliminate all of your health risks”, all delivered in hopes of creating stress, among millions of smokers. Stress is the number one cause of heart attack and stroke, so what is the cost and how many will die? They knew going in that smoking is an excellent appetite suppressor with predictable results among the tens of millions targeted for extermination within a healthiness sensibility. So they started in with the anti “obesity epidemic”, once again promoting the ethics of treating real people like a detestable disease. By keeping up the pressure and the antagonism, of those it seems they would like to kill off, as a sub human species, in the name of “sustainable development”.

    The promotions of smoking bans and fat pandemics, is a bleed of scarce medical resources, which will no longer be used to battle diseases with the discovery of legitimate cures, or in the interim by the development of treatments, again how many will die as a direct consequence of Public Health campaigns as “disease preventions”. Control of diseases? through controlling the actions of others?

    We haven’t even touched the surface of the meaner and more divided communities being created by this terrorist campaign of Taliban styled governments, monitoring our every move, while operating as “our protectors”. Cost and consequences of living by the risk “management” numbers, in place of real science, will be more than we will ever be able to afford and all the while the number of smokers has not changed significantly in over a half century. Smokers as a subset of society, have always lived with the confidence; that fads will come and go and all we have to do is wait it out. Unfortunately this is no longer an issue of fanatical followings that will extinguish itself. At least not before the voice of the people rises above the paid media voices providing your evening news, to tell them we have had enough of their propaganda and government abuse.

  • Kevin

    The true statistical reality that should guide all others, is that when Governments and the media are guided only by polls and statistics, with no humanity in their nature or leadership model, no one is harmed more than the minorities. By that model of oversight and over reaching, if you eliminate all minorities you eliminate 100% of the population.

    Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

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