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Body of letter sent to Larry King prior to commencement of 22 day hunger strike

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Dear Larry,

The pen is only mightier than the sword if what it has written has the chance to POST read. The truth shall set you free only if someone is given the right to tell it. In a society which has guaranteed rights to all groups regardless of race, color, sex, creed, religion, and even sexual preference, there still today exists a group who faces legalized discrimination. In fact, this group of over 60 million faces legalized persecution in that even in this country of free speech this group has been denied the simple right of fair and open debate by the popular press.

Since 1978, after completing my PhD in economics and entering the tobacco business, I have personally been involved with efforts to open a fair discussion on the complex controversies surrounding tobacco use. Enclosed is some information about my efforts, which have included pushing for disclosure of information about cigarette additives and attempts to legislatively confront the 1969 Banzhaf decision which limits the free flow of vital information to the American public. I also enclose excerpt from my writings on the subject which should be helpful as background information.

Currently my attempt to open this needed debate includes an attempt to POST Phil Donahue to host a debate on these controversies. I began a nationwide signature campaign aimed at urging Mr. Donahue to host a show on the controversies surrounding tobacco. I hope to have collected 100,000 signatures by Christmas and would like to present them to Phil on a show along with a hand made Christmas card. The card is a symbol of peace and represents our simple plea to have a voice that has been denied to us. Though I myself- like you- have personally given up smoking as a fair thinking American I still find the climate of outright discrimination toward smokers to be intolerable. This discrimination goes far beyond seating arrangements in restaurants or airports. This discrimination stretches to the root existence of the individual as it is currently legal to discriminate against smokers in terms of employment and housing. Certainly there is a loss to the individual who is barred from employment because of smoking preference but there is a greater loss to society as it is deprived of the services and creativity of that individual who, other than being a smoker, would be most qualified for the job from which he is being excluded. This, aside from the arguments concerning equity, is the societal argument for limiting racial or sexual discrimination and it should be the same argument for legislating against job discrimination against smokers.

My attempt to draw public attention to this issue is as serious to me because of its implications for our democracy as it is in its implication for the tobacco controversy. The purposeful policy of the press to silence any effort to raise economic or equity questions surrounding tobacco and smoking has made me question the wisdom of a First Amendment which guarantees the media machine too large a right of free speech and censorship. Though I do not smoke and have spent my professional life attempting to POST people to quit cigarettes I still feel compelled to protect the individuals right of choice and our societies right to a free and open debate. After fifteen years of attempting to open this debate I am tempted to resort to tried and tested forms of personal protest. Hunger strikes, even by convicted prisoners and self incineration by monks of South East Asia have brought forth the call for public attention to their issues. Though I really do not relish having to attempt to POST attention by using such methods as I would rather be allowed to speak because of my education and for what I know, there is some benefit of having to go to such extremes toward proving the kind of discrimination that exists even in the press in regards to smoking. Because of a life threatening illness, a hunger strike of even short duration, or withdrawal from my medication which must be taken with food, would only allow me a short time to POST the proper media attention. Given the political incorrectness of my subject and the spoken and unspoken taboo against free debate of these issues, I recognize that there is a possibility that the press would continue to ignore my demonstration and allow me to starve to death so I am forced to threaten to threaten to go on a hunger strike. I have often imagined that the traditional tag for the Donahue Show, where I to POST on it, would read "Accommodations and transportation for guests of the Donahue Show are provided by the luxurious Downtown Hilton and Big Time Limousine Service while Dr. Lapides, a representative of the tobacco industry, was given a cardboard box and a map of the New York City Subway System".

I would sincerely ask you to have me on your show and I implore you to use you good graces to POST Mr. Donahue to host a fair and honest debate on the many controversies surrounding tobacco. We turn to you to give us a chance to address our greatest grievance, the loss of our freedom of speech.


Ira T. Lapides, Ph.D.

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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