February 12, 2016

Smoker responds to ban by setting up table outside eatery

Veronica Mullin

Special to the Gardner News

Russell Scott Little doesn’t support the smoking ban, like many of his fellow smokers. But he’s taking his protest to the next level, and it’s all starting at his local Waffle House.

Richard Little, left, and a friend share coffee at the Waffle House on Thursday morning. Little set up a table outside the Waffle House so he could smoke after a statewide smoking ban went into effect on July 1. Staff photo by Corbin H. Crable

When the ban came into effect at on July 1, Little was told he couldn’t smoke inside the restaurant any longer. He took his cigarette outside, but wasn’t ready to leave. Instead, he backed his SUV into a parking space near the front of the building and brought out his own table, umbrella, and chairs. But why did he set up at Waffle House? Why not at home, or at a friend’s house?

“I’ve been a regular for nine years,” Little said. “People come here to have coffee and cigarettes, and it builds good friendships.”

If restaurant managers no longer allow him to sit outside at his table at some point, he said he’ll just find somewhere else.

“I’ll find some other property and set up a big tent,” Little exclaimed. “We’ll call it the ‘Smokers’ Tent.’”

Tents are a major part of Little’s plan. Cold weather and rain doesn’t intimidate him because in such cases, all he has to do is pitch a tent and fire up a heater.

He said he’ll fight for what he believes regardless of the circumstances.

“I served for eight years in the military, defending our country,” Little explained. “I’m not above bringing in a tent.”

Little and his dining companions believe the smoking ban is nonsense. They said they’re concerned that the government outlawed smoking in some places and not others. They also questioned whether the Kansas Legislature had the right to institute a smoking ban in the first place.

“It should be up to the business owners.” Little’s friend said. “Every day we lose more rights. I’m 57 years old, and I’ve seen way too much going on around here.”

They voiced a belief that the United States was built on a few strong industries and the tobacco industry was one of them. It’s part of their culture and lifestyle, and they won’t stand for the government to take it away, Little explained.

The tent diners said they doubt that the sell of cigarettes will ever be outlawed. However, they admitted that smoking does have health risks.

But, Little said, that’s no reason to ban it in public.

“Everything has health issues,” Little said. “But you don’t see them closing down the fast food chains, or banning the sale of alcohol. Alcohol is worse [for the body] than cigarettes.”


  1. Thanks Mr. Little for once again standing up for the freedoms you, and other veterans fought for. It’s a shame the lobbyists and politicians are taking it away.

  2. Gardner Pride says:

    I don’t believe that any of their freedoms were taken away. In fact, Mr. Little flaunted his freedoms by staging a friendly protest while continuing to enjoy his breakfast and cigarette. I would ask what freedom was taken away by the smoking ban. No one has been told they can’t smoke, no one has been told that they can’t dine out at their leisure. They just won’t be able to mix the two any longer.

  3. General Practicioner says:

    Gardner Pride,
    The “freedom” taken away is the freedom of the building’s owner to determine what lawful activities he or she will allow in the building they own.
    It’s a personal property rights thing. Tragic that you weren’t able to come up with that one.

  4. Gardner Pride,
    You must not be very old, this law is a slippery step towards eliminating the next right. This author is sick and tired of having strangers tell me where, when and how I can run my life. If strangers want to tell me what to do, they can come to my house, pay my bills, go to work for me, raise the kids etc., then, maybe then, you can tell the rest of us what is and isn’t good for us. As for the smoking issue, it goes hand in hand with people bringing their kids to a bar then complaining about the smoke in the air. Guess what…it’s a bar, your kids do not belong in a bar with the drinking of alcohol and the swearing and such that we all love to go there for, it’s meant for adults so please keep your kids away from these places, I do not like to hear a child whining about as loud as the parents and it causes me stress for which is a health issue to most people, that should be next on the list of the hypocrites that love to say to their friends that they support one thing or another, how important they look (not), more like uneducated fools.

  5. People come in here with perfume about gag me. Like they dump it on, but they act like I am bad I smoke. I pay taxes. Just like fireworks. They mayor is a busy body. Leave us alone! You are a bully!

  6. I’m not a fan of Mr. Mayor either, Sondra, but this is not his doing.

  7. Look out occupy Gardner has begun :)

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