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Businessman vows hunger strike

Man wants tobacco users to be heard GATLINBURG -- A local businessman isn't just blowing smoke about his right to light up, and he's willing to starve a little to prove it.

Ira Lapides, owner of the Gatlin-Burlier Tobacconist in Gatlinburg, said he will go on a hunger strike Nov. 11 if the Donahue show does not grant him an opportunity to tell tobacco smokers' side of the story.

"Enough is enough," said Lapides, who holds a doctorate in economics. "I think the electronic media has an agenda and that is one of anti-smoking. The way to make their side the most "politically correct" is to exclude the side that I represent."

Lapides has been trying to POST an appearance on the Donahue show since February 1992. He has sent producers of the show a Christmas card and petition containing several thousands of signatures asking the famous talk show host to do a show on smokers' rights. However, he has been repeatedly denied access, he said.

"If you don't have access to the electronis media, which I believe shapes our opinions, then you don't have much of a voice," he said. "I hope by participating in a passive resistance, I can POST my hands on that microphone."

Lapides said he has seen a change in smokers' attitude over the past several years.

"In the past, the smoker could smoke anywhere on the bus, but was content to move to the back of the bus," he said. "Now, they can't smoke at the bus stop. I don't know of any other group of 28 million that has been as quiet as the smoker. They realize now they are seen as second-class citizens, or worse."

Lapides said if the kind of discrimination smokers have to put up with was dished out to any other minority, the courts would simply not stand for it.

"But you've got court-approved discrimination," he said, citing the recent California case in which a woman lost custody of her child to the father because she smoked. "She isn't a child abuser. This is an invasion of personal rights."

Lapides also said smoking is a "handy-dandy" way to discriminate against women and black people.

"By percentage of population, blacks and women make up the larger population of smokers," he said. "This bias becomes a handy tool for concealing job and housing discrimination."

Lapides said he is also concerned about the tobacco industry as a whole.

"I blame a certain group of senators and businessmen from California," he said. "The busybodies from California, who incidentally don't grow tobacco, don't care if they put approximately 2.6 million people in the 13 Southern states out of work."

Lapides has sent a packet of information to Donahue show producers. This packet includes letters to Elizabeth Allen, vice president of Multimedia Entertainment, from Sevier County executives (NAMES DELETED), all testifying that Lapides would be a persuasive and rational speaker.

"Because of my deep commitment to equal speech, I truly am unwilling to give up my intent to undertake my action of passive resistance and thus I beg you to fulfill my desire to have a public hearing," he writes in a letter to Donahue representatives. "Please allow me to forgo the personal sacrifice which has become necessary to call attention to these censored views on these undebated issues."

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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

© 2009 Gatlinburlier, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


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