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Hunger striker asks for fair treatment from media

Please let me begin by stating that I am sorry for the strain that I have caused for those close to me and for those who I really had not imagined would be this concerned about me. Let me apologize for creating any rifts within the community over this issue as it is truly my intent to bring some truth and healing to a subject that has been left to fester in the infection of one sided debate.

There is a growing amount of research which shows that there may be a genetic origin to cancer. This would mean that regardless of whether one smoked or not, those with the proclivity toward the disease would probably POST it and that probability would go up if they are exposed to cacinogens such as diesel and automotive exhaust, electromagnetic fields and cigarette smoke. There is yet more research which shows that obesity, diet and fat, as well as genetics, play a role in explaining why both the French and the Japanese show lower rates of health problems among smokers with larger portions of their populations smoking than in the United States.

Though important, facts and arguments like these do not make me undertake my prolonged hunger strike. Even my disdain for the crude social treatment afforded smokers would not make me undertake this action. It is only for the right to be heard that I undertake this action as without a constant and vigilante defense of this freedom it will be lost.

Thomas Jefferson, when he spoke of the freedom of speech and the God given liberties of man, assumed automatically that freedom of speech was synonymous with the freedom to be heard. He never envisioned or assumed the existence of an electronic media nor the fact that technology would create a world where a few individuals could decide who and who shall not have the right to be heard. He never envisioned a world in which news and the American agenda was determined by the heads of a few powerful broadcasting companies or the advent of a communications industrial complex. He never envisioned that technology would allow for a few individuals to choose what is news.

My fear is more than for the way that America has chosen to handle the smoking issue, which has been to criminalize, dehumanize and villainize the smoker, but for the way in which America will then handle the upcoming wars on alcohol, guns, crime and prejudice. The public and legal policies railroaded through society by the tobaccophobic have now surpassed discrimination and prejudice and are tantamount to persecution.

It has been 15 days since I began my fast as a social protest against unfair discrimination and persecution of smokers. It has been 15 days since I began my fast as a social protest over the fact that those who have set an agenda for America can legally deny me my right to be heard. I do not condemn all media, as certainly The Mountain Press and others have recognized that what I have to say constitutes legitimate news and have not let their personal agenda interfere. Yet it is incredible to me that my geographically closest major regional newspaper, The Knoxville News Sentinel, and our only real national news service, the AP, have chosen to ignore this story for over 26 days since it was announced and for the 15 days since I began starving for my right to be heard. It is incredible to me that they have done so after repeated calls and personal visits. At this point I am either to believe that they have let their personal agenda and opinions interfere with their decisions or that they do not know what news is. Ideally, a newspaper and news service are conduits of news not its censors or arbitrators.

Were I to be defending any politically correct cause with such an action, by now I would have been equated to that young man standing in front of the Chinese government tank in defense of his freedom. But because I am standing for a politically incorrect cause, I may be the first American allowed to endure prolonged inhumane suffering simply because of what I want to say.

Truly, it is my hope that one of the talk show hosts will be humanitarian enough to allow me to speak or that Donahue will change his mind and allow me on his show. For many years TV commentators and talk shows have been able to provide only one side of the story but I believed that America deserves both sides of that story and all I ask is the chance to tell the other side.

I hope that I will not have to continue to cause undue worry or strain on those who are worrying about me and I hope that their suffering as well as mine will be ended soon. For this to happen I will need to be treated fairly by an electronic and print media that has been relieved of the legal burden of fairness by a 1969 U.S. Supereme Court decision which has created the legal blockade to my obtaining free speech. In truth it will require that those who are opposed to the views which I might express, because of their own integrity and honesty extend, me a fair and equal opportunity to be heard. This I believe is the real meaning of the words freedom and equality of speech.

Ira T. Lapides

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95% of our orders are shipped the day they are received.

Area information for Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Sevierville and the Great Smoky Mountains.   Make it a perfect day and enjoy a meal at one of our Gatlinburg restaurants.
  • You MUST be at least 18 years of age to purchase tobacco products in Tennessee!
  • We do not sell tobacco products in Maine or Arizona.
  • All Packages are shipped US Post Office unless you specify UPS.
  • All Customers will be Charged for Shipping & Return Postage on any Refused or Returned package(s).
  • International Customers: You are to check with your local customs & duty officials to see if there are additional duties or fees required, or if there are prohibitions on tobacco or amounts of tobacco which can be shipped to your country.
  • Charge card customers may order by calling
  • To check on an order call 865-436-4412, 9am-3pm Eastern Time Monday-Friday.
  • Visit our showroom on D-Level of the Mountain Mall, on the corner of Parkway and River Road in Gatlinburg!
  • We are open 7 days a week.
  • Prices subject to change without prior notice.
  • No Cash Refunds. Merchandise credit ONLY on returns.
  • We DO NOT ship cigarettes.
The Gatlin-Burlier
603 Skyline Dr.
Gatlinburg, TN 37738
24hr Fax: 1-865-430-7476

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WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.


As with any avalanche of lemons into one's life, survivors attempt to make lemonade and so it is with the Gatlinburlier Tobacconist. G&B Tobaccos new licensing and stature as a Tobacco Manufacturer now presents many opportunities for our loyal long-time customers. Not only does this new status make the Gatlinburlier the only truly legal tobacco retailer in the country, but it opens opportunities for us to expand our lines, since our access to specialty tobaccos has been vastly expanded. We plan to offer special deals on our new products as we produce new blends and attempt to improve some of our existing blends.

Tobacco being a natural product varies in characteristics year to year. It takes constant adjusting to keep blends consistent in taste, color, and burning qualities. In many cases blenders keep several years worth of tobaccos on hand so as to phase out one years product while phasing in another years crop to minimize the changes in the qualities of the blends. Over the 37 years that we have blended tobaccos some of our suppliers have left the business and other tobacco components have changed so much that we think we need to make adjustments to a few of our blends.

Gatlin-Burley our Americanized English once contained a very special Green River Valley tobacco which became unavailable. Given our new contacts within the industry we now have access to this rare tobacco, and have re blended this great blend, with just a touch of Latakia to meet its original qualities.

Gatlin-Burley was a blend created to keep the smoker's interest and encourage the maturation of the smoker's own tastes. Thirty-seven years ago it was our flag ship. It was an Americanized English that seemed to change taste as the smoker's pallet change over the course of one day and over the course of many weeks.

As a special short term offer we will send you a two ounce bag of this fabulous rebirth of greatness for only $5.95.

This extraordinary blend mixes fabulously with our Cades Cove Cavendish and our Chimney Smoke to make it even more tame for the American taste. For those looking to find a slightly more mature taste than is offered by our "natural aromatics" - Gatlin-Burley is the tobacco blend they are seeking, but "Made Even Better®".

2oz for only $5.95