Dr. Hal Cole, suffering a viral infection and two numb pinkie fingers, huddled under an umbrella and placard clutching a stack of sodden fliers.
"I'm here to celebrate the Bill of Rights with Philip Morris," he said. Cole, president of the Utah Medical Association, carried a sign outside the Salt Palace Exhibit Hall Friday morning.Philip Morris Co., a conglomerate that manufactures cigarettes as well as other products, sponsored the 15,000-square-foot display of Virginia's handwritten copy of the original Bill of Rights. The document is in Salt Lake City through May 6, part of a nationwide tour.
And just outside, Cole carried a sign in the rain: "Philip Morris' main concern: the right to profit from addiction." His protest was also focused around a document, this one a seven-item list of non-smokers' rights, but somehow it didn't carry quite the same prestige of that handwritten older document inside.
Cole said he hoped that protests, mounted in each stop along the nationwide tour, sent a message to the major tobacco company that it shouldn't try to link rights with smoking. More than 1,000 people die every day from smoking-related illnesses. "That is the equivalent to (the passengers of) three jumbo jets dying a day," the physician said.
Cole said it was quite a country that would allow him to carry a picket and carry on an interview with a man who was smoking.
When pregnant mothers smoke, they increase the chances of delivering premature or retarded children. And longtime exposure to secondhand smoke also can cause serious illness, according to recent medical studies.
Cole said he didn't want schoolchildren visiting the historic exhibit to get the message that smoking is OK.
But it was the Bill of Rights itself, a list on old parchment paper written with faded brown ink, that captured most of the attention Friday. Most thought the exhibit, which attracted lines of both schoolchildren and adults, was worth the wait to view history, for a few seconds anyway. In fact, Jared Warburton, of Orem, wrote in an exhibit register that he found the experience "radical."
Derek O'Driscoll, 10, of Orem's Westmore Elementary School, liked seeing the actual Bill of Rights. The document, he said, means "we're free to do things, we can't boss people around." He also appreciated the right that allows people to worship the way they want to. Shawn Monteer, 9, liked the documentary film that played on the way to the exhibit, while classmate Claudia Mendza, 10, thought the paper itself looked old.
Chris Salcido, 10, appreciated the fact that "you have a right not to talk when you get arrested." He knew that because he saw it in a movie, and he admitted, because his dad is a policeman.
But Tyson Brinkerhoff, 10, seemed more enamored with logistical details than his actual glimpse of history. "I liked how that car brought the Bill of Rights."