Kim Mosley vs Secondhand Smoke at Flo Valley Community College in 1988

Kim Mosley was a Professor of Art who eventually became Dean of the Liberal Arts Division at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley. He was employed there from 1975 through 2007, when he left and moved to Austin, TX.

In the early years smoking was allowed in all campus buildings, as was the norm in workplaces back then. But by 1988 Kim Mosley had had enough and decided to take action against secondhand smoke pollution at work. With perseverance and some unusual methods (inspired by Thoreau’s Civil Disobedience), he succeeded in obtaining a healthier school environment, as he describes in the following account.

Kim Mosley – adapted from a talk given at St. Lukes Hospital on November 16th, 1988 during a “Get the Smoke Out” seminar.

One day I said ‘No’

Kim Mosley, ca. 1991

Men and women have a long history of altering their environment. From the paleolithic times when they would start a fire to drive animals into a certain area to hunt them, they have altered the food chain and depleted the soil. Consciousness of the environment started early as well, with laws being enacted in the Middle East that potters and metalsmiths take their workshops out of the cities because of the dirty smoke that they produced. Yesterday I questioned the cigar smoking man who refills the Pepsi machine, “Did you know that your cigar stinks up whatever building you go into?” “No,” he answered.
A friend* was going to accompany me to a meeting for non-smokers where I was giving this talk. He wanted to share his concern about smoke pollution, but his wife called to tell me that he wouldn’t be able to come. She explained that his sister in England had just died of lung cancer. He had called his wife from England to give me a message to convey to the group – we are all working towards the same goal – the elimination of senseless premature deaths.
Monday I ate lunch with a number of colleagues, one of whom lit up a cigarette. Did she know, I wondered, about the effect this cigarette was having on our bodies and our environment? If not, should she be teaching in a college? If she did know, and still had no regard for our health, should she be teaching in a college?
My work environment was smoke-filled. Frequently, I had a sore throat, a cough, and a running nose, in spite of many years of allergy shots. Finally I decided that I would no longer work in this abusive environment. This was an absolute in my mind. It was only a matter of how.
With the support and advice of Martin Pion of Missouri GASP, I sent around a survey to the faculty and students of the Humanities Building at St. Louis Community College at Florissant Valley. All but one of the faculty and many of our students signed it.
We submitted it to the acting President, who denied our request on the basis that his tenure would soon be over, and he didn’t want to make a decision that soon could be reversed.
We decided to wait until he left, and until our new President had not quite come aboard. Then I proceeded, upon the urging of my immediate boss, to remove the ashtrays in the building, and to plaster the walls with No Smoking signs.
This sent the maintenance people, and a certain smoking administrator, into a tizzy. The maintenance people claimed that there was no way we could hold classes without ashtrays. The administrator claimed that we were abusing students by not letting them smoke.
A meeting was arranged between my immediate boss, the Associate Dean, the administrator in question, and the new President. Luckily the President had the sense to realize that this was a majority decision of the users of our building and agreed to uphold our “mutiny.” Within a few months we got a few of our ashtrays installed on the outside of our building, and the smoking students set up shop outside to shorten their lives.
The President did comment in passing that, had we not gone ahead and done this on our own, he would not have let us do it. This was obviously a risky means, one that I would not have done without the urging of my immediate superior. The point is that I had decided that I was no longer going to tolerate abusive behavior, and I would take every opportunity to stop it.
For instance, I pointed out to the President that the bookstore sold cigarettes, and asked if he was aware of that. He wasn’t, and soon the cigarettes were taken off the shelves and out of the vending machines.
Also upon my urging through the Environmental Health and Safety Committee, of which I am a member, he has now asked all campus committees to address the smoking issue at the first meeting of the new year. Now we are asking him to do the same for all groups meeting on campus.
The battle is not over. I teach one class in another building which allows smoking. After speaking with some of the faculty in that building, the Associate Dean in charge has requested to the President that his building be also deemed “smokefree.” So far, the request has sat on the President’s desk without any action. In the meantime, since I am in charge of scheduling classes, I can and will choose to teach in “smokefree” buildings until things change.
I’ve put notices in the faculty Newsnotes that I have No Smoking signs available. The requests have been overwhelming from all over campus. People are speaking out for cleaning the air in their immediate areas. They are starting to realize that they can say “No.” Even my office mate put a sign on the front door of his house to greet his wife, a smoking nurse, when she came home.
There are certainly more battles left in the war against smoking. My kids bring the smoke of the tennis club to the car after their “good healthy exercise.” People still smoke in the grocery store, even with the Thank You for Not Smoking sign on the door.
On Monday, I had talked to my mom on the phone. The day before she had told a good friend that she would no longer go to her house because she couldn’t take the smoke. My mom also mentioned that the woman’s husband, an asthmatic, couldn’t take the smoke either. The woman replied that she wanted to quit smoking anyway and now she really had a reason.
Was my mom being mean, cruel, and thoughtless? I don’t think so. But how about the husband, passively enduring the gradual destruction of both his wife and himself? Was he a gentleman, or a coward, or worse yet, a co-conspirator in polite genocide?
The message which I hope to convey to our students and to you is that we don’t have to put up with situations that seem wrong. The first step is to say “No.” The second is to sit down and work out a strategy. The third, sometimes trying a succession of strategies, is to pursue relentlessly.
You’ll become a broken record – repeating yourself over and over and over again. You’ll make some enemies (and some friends). You’ll find that often even your allies will not stand up and speak out in your defense. You’ll wonder at times, is it really worth it? But when you start winning the little battles, your rewards will be both that sensuous deep whiff of clean air and the fact that you made a difference.
________________________________________________________________

Marti Pion & Lilian Williams, nee Pion, London, March 1988, three months before her lung cancer diagnosis

*I believe that Kim is referring to me in his presentation above when he refers to “A friend.” I was not able to attend with Kim because I had gone to England to be with my sister and only sibling, Lilian, who was dying of lung cancer. I’ve written about it elsewhere on this blog. Today, November 11th, 2017, happens to be the anniversary of the day in 1988 on which she died, which I attribute to her secondhand smoke exposure. (Please see the following blog for a short memorium: Remembering my late sister, Lilian, which also links to a longer blog if of interest.)

2017-02-12 OpEd Joplin Globe: “Republicans need to ban all smoking in state capitol”

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I submitted two somewhat different versions of an OpEd last week to the Joplin Globe. They published one in the Jefferson City News Tribune with my original title: “The Missouri State Capitol’s come a long way, baby – But it’s not smoke-free yet.”
The second OpEd version, reproduced below, was published in the Joplin Globe with a different title. I’ve added graphics to this version plus live links for anyone wanting more background information.

Republicans need to ban all smoking in state capitol.
Martin Pion:
February 12, 2017
Joplin Globe

At this time of year state government employees in Jefferson City can be seen huddled outside their office buildings smoking while shivering in the cold. It’s a testament to the addictive power of legally available nicotine in cigarettes, despite being the leading cause of avoidable premature death.

Before 1992, those with private offices were smoking inside, but that year the Missouri Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA ) was passed. The late John Britton, the formidable lobbyist for the Tobacco Institute and dubbed the Mayor of Jefferson City, had inserted a requirement in the bill that all state institutions and state colleges must have smoking areas. Governor John Ashcroft was a staunch opponent of Big Tobacco at the time, and his legislative assistant, Mr. Phil Irons, cannily added language that such smoking areas must have adequate ventilation at minimum cost, a standard not attainable in practice.

Interestingly enough, lawmakers exempted one state building: the State Capitol housing their offices, and that’s the focus of this story.

I first began lobbying for a MCIAA in 1984 as a member of what was then called the Missouri Coalition on Smoking and Health. At the time the only “NO SMOKING” signs in the State Capitol were in the Visitor’s Gallery overlooking the House chamber.

No Smoking Pleas AP JC 870506 photo.jpg

I I was sitting there during a critical House vote on a proposed MCIAA on May 6th, 1987, when legislators opposed to smoke-free air deliberately lit up cigarettes and cigars. For protection, I donned a professional grade safety respirator, caught on camera by Associated Press photographer Dan Howell, who titled his photo “No Smoking Pleas.”

Vivian_Dietemann_Ch5NewsCoverStory_1998a

Ms. Vivian Dietemann

The smoking situation only changed significantly after St. Louis City resident, Ms. Vivian Dietemann, filed a formal complaint in January 1994, alleging that smoking prevented her from accessing the State Capitol due to her severe asthma, in violation of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

david-lieb-sm-lit

David Lieb, AP

After extended delays, the House, Senate, and Office of Administration, which jointly control the building, adopted a sweeping smoking policy in December 1994. Mr. David A. Lieb featured it in a January 9th, 1995, AP story titled: ”Ash Canned: Lawmakers Set No-Smoking Policy.”

The House Smoking Policy, for example, made all public areas smoke-free, but exemptions included all legislators’ private offices.

mo-capitol-ada-complaint-970908r

Standing: Vivian Dietemann and Don Young. His stoma is covered by a neck scarf. Seated: Sr. Luella Dames with an inhaler on her lap,
and Ted Wedel

In January 1995, Missouri GASP filed a formal ADA complaint seeking an entirely smoke-free State Capitol, and requesting a legally-required Self-Evaluation. As part of a lengthy process, surveys were completed in September 1997 by those named in the complaint, Dietemann, Sr. Luella Dames, and Mr. Don Young, overseen by Mr. Ted Wedel, General Counsel, House Research. (Young, a former smoker now needing an electrolarynx to speak, runs Young Choices Inc., discouraging youth smoking.)

Mrs. Helen Jaegers, working for a state Representative, was added to the complaint in January 1998. In April 1996 she had typed a letter to the Chief Clerk describing how State Capitol smoking exacerbated her severe asthma, resulting in frequent hospital trips. Before submitting the letter, an emergency room visit prompted her to hand write a postscript, concluding:

I am so ready to wake up from this nightmare.

This four year effort resulted in a February 5, 1999, Memorandum of Agreement between the State Capitol and Missouri GASP which still exempted legislators’ private offices from any smoking restrictions.

Billy Williams FAMRI May 2004 head

Billy Williams

Since 1999, the only additional progress made was in January 2011 following an ADA complaint by Mr. Billy Williams of GASP of Texas on behalf of Ms. Rossie Judd, an asthmatic from Fenton, MO. Following the defeat of a Rules change proposal by then Rep. Jeanette Mott-Oxford to make the entire House smoke-free, the House Rules Committee made the Members’ Lounge adjoining the House chamber smoke-free. Legislators’ offices were again exempted.

rep-mike-cierpiot-r-majority-floor-leader

Rep. Mike Cierpiot

Two January 2017 efforts to end this exemption on health and safety grounds failed on party-line votes. In opposing, Republican Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Mike Cierpiot, stated during House debate:

I believe the spirit of the Amendment is reasonable and is something we might decide to do. But the proper way to do it, in my opinion, is caucus position.

The Republican caucus should do the right thing, as Majority Floor Leader Cierpiot has suggested, by voting to make the Smoke-Me House the Smoke-Free House.

pion-head-grey-sharp

Martin Pion

Martin Pion is the president of Missouri GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution) Inc.
He can be reached at mpion@swbell.net.

2017-02-12 Joplin Globe: “Double standard”

The Joplin Globe, a major local newspaper in southwestern Missouri, just published an edited version of a much longer OpEd I submitted recently. Joplin is the largest city in Jasper County with a 2010 census city population of 50,150. The reported circulation of The Joplin Globe is 20,414 [ref: Cision.com dated January 16, 2013]. Below is the published version for those interested.

Your view: Double standard

  • By Martin Pion
    Special to The Globe – Sunday, Jan 12, 2017

A fresh batch of Missouri legislators has just convened for the start of the new legislative session. One of their surprises may be the fact that, despite all other state buildings being smoke-free, legislators have exempted themselves from that requirement in the state Capitol.

Some years ago, Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution assisted Ms. Vivian Dietemann, a smoke-sensitive asthmatic from St. Louis, in filing an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint with the Missouri attorney general’s office regarding smoking in the Capitol. At the time, smoking was allowed throughout the building, the only exception being the visitors’ gallery overlooking the House chamber. Ms. Dietemann’s efforts in late 1993 and early 1994 led to a substantial reduction in where smoking was allowed.

But today, senators and some House members are still permitted to smoke in their offices, as well as a members lounge behind the House chamber, and there is a smoking area in the underground garage.*

Sweeping smoke-free air ordinances became effective in St. Louis city and county on Jan. 2, joining many other Missouri communities. A smoke-free air initiative petition was recently approved by Jefferson City voters, so now you can’t smoke in a local bar but you can still smoke in the state Capitol.

What kind of example is the Missouri Capitol setting for young children who visit the building when they smell secondhand smoke coming from legislators’ offices? What does this say about legislators themselves who allow this to continue?

It really is time for the “Smoke-Me” Capitol to go smoke-free.

Martin Pion
President, Missouri GASP
St. Louis
____________________________________

*The following was evidently added by the editor:

“as well as a members lounge behind the House chamber, and there is a smoking area in the underground garage.”

The first part is incorrect, to my knowledge. In fact, the Rules were changed at the start of the 2011 session to make the private members lounge smoke-free. That was after an unsuccessful effort to make the entire building smoke-free. Here’s the relevant paragraph from the story “Smoking still allowed in Missouri’s legislative offices” by St. Louis Post-Dispatch Jefferson City reporter Virginia Young:

“Those pushing to bar smoking have wrung one concession from Republican House leaders, who agreed to ban it in the rear gallery, where legislators often grab meals between votes.”

In addition, the “smoking area in the underground garage” may also no longer exist, but that needs to be verified.

Mr. Ted Wedel, General Counsel MO House Research, conducting Survey as part of 1997 ADA Self-Evaluation

Missouri GASP filed an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) complaint in January 1995 on behalf of Vivian Dietemann and two other smoke-sensitive individuals, Sr. Luella Dames and Don Young, a laryngectomy survivor and former smoker, seeking an entirely smoke-free Missouri State Capitol. As part of its complaint it requested a Self-Evaluation, as required by the ADA.

Mr. Ted Wedel, General Counsel, House Research in the Missouri House of Representatives, was charged with overseeing the Self-Evaluation and as part of that process, Dietemann, Dames and Young each completed a survey in my home in Ferguson on September 8th, 1997, overseen by Mr. Wedel. The event was captured in the accompanying photo.

mo-capitol-ada-complaint-970908r

Standing are Vivian Dietemann and Don Young, with a neck scarf covering the stoma in his neck through which he breathes. Seated are Sr. Luella Dames, with an inhaler on her lap, and Ted Wedel, General Counsel, House Research.

Highly smoke-sensitive Helen Jaegers’ ordeal working in the Mo State Capitol in 1996

The letter pasted below, dated April 13th, 1996, provides some insight into how Mrs. Helen Jaegers suffered from secondhand smoke exposure while working for a state representative in the Missouri State Capitol. Her letter was addressed to Mr. Doug Burnett, Chief Clerk to the Missouri House of Representatives at the time.

rep-bill-boucher-1

Rep. Bill Boucher

It was faxed to MoGASP on April 23rd, 1996, by a sympathetic legislator, Rep. Bill Boucher, a Democrat representing District 48, part of the Kansas City area in Jackson County.

In her letter, Mrs. Jaegers described the steroid medications she was taking to control her asthma (from which she had suffered since age 2), and how she was sickened by workplace smoking, in some cases resulting in emergency room visits. The P.S., added by hand to her typewritten letter to Chief Clerk Burnett, underscored her plea for help:

“P.S. On Monday, 4-15-96, my husband and daughter rushed me to the EMERGENCY Room.
I was having a reaction to the medicine
I am so ready to wake up from this nightmare.”

jaegers_1
jaegers_2

Vivian Dietemann’s Jan. 1994 ADA complaint against smoky MO State Capitol

Vivian_Dietemann_Ch5NewsCoverStory_1998a

Ms. Vivian Dietemann

Ms. Vivian Dietemann, a highly smoke-sensitive asthmatic, filed a formal complaint against the Missouri State Capitol in early 1994. The four page complaint is reproduced below.
It referenced both Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Ms. Dietemann alleged that she was being denied access because of permitted smoking throughout the building, citing relevant law and court decisions. The complaint was filed initially with then-Attorney General, Jay Nixon, and subsequently redirected to the three entities responsible for different parts of the Missouri State Capitol: the House, the Senate, and the Office of Administration.

dietemann-jan-9-1994-ada-complaint_1crop
dietemann-jan-9-1994-ada-complaint_2-crop
dietemann-jan-9-1994-ada-complaint_3-crop
dietemann-jan-9-1994-ada-complaint_4-crop1

2017-01-12: House votes down smoke-free members’ offices amendment

missouricapitol-black-smoke1

Smoke-Me Missouri State Capitol

I watched the online video of the House debate on Thursday morning, January 12th, 2017, of an amendment to the Rules to make the “private” offices of House members smoke-free.  Amendment .04H was proposed by the  Minority Whip, Rep. Kip Kendrick (D). It was opposed by the Majority Floor Leader, Rep. Mike Cierpiot (R), and then defeated on a voice vote.

As noted on previous occasions, it’s highly regrettable that this has moved from being a health and welfare issue, ensuring access to the State Capitol for those with breathing disabilities, to evidently becoming a partisan issue.  Of note, however, is this statement by Rep. Cierpiot during his opposing argument:

I believe the spirit of the Amendment is reasonable and is something we might decide to do. But the proper way to do it, in my opinion, is caucus position.

A live video of the proceedings is posted online at the live link below. The 4 minute debate on Rep. Kendrick’s amendment begins at t=16:33 min. into the video recording. A transcript of the debate I prepared is appended below.

http://mohouse.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=278

Transcript re. amendment .04H to HR8 determining the House Rules

Following the introduction of HR8 governing the House Rules for this session, the first speaker addressed the issue of smoking. This followed the Speaker asking “Discussion?” at t=16:30 min followed by “Gentleman from Boone … may rise.”

Rep. Kip Kendrick at t=16:33: “To offer an amendment.”

“Proceed gentleman.”

rep-kip-kendrick-d-minority-whip

Rep. Kip Kendrick (D) Minority Whip

Rep. Kendrick at t=16:40: “To offer an amendment .04H. And this amendment, what it does is add some continuity, based on the current law in the state of Missouri regarding no smoking in state government buildings. And it includes the House and members’ offices, to basically ban smoking in the building.

I’m not standing up today to throw bombs or make it a partisan issue – I don’t believe it’s a partisan issue. And I have to believe that over 90% of the people in this body believe that this is an acceptable rule change: to ban smoking in the State Capitol.

And for those of you who don’t agree I would have to assume that you would agree to repeal of a smoking ban in all state buildings because there really is no good reason why we ban smoking in every state building but then exempt ourselves, exempt the State Capitol. There’s no good reason at all. When we talk about this is the People’s House and this is the People’s Building, it is.

I occupy Room 106-B, and I occupy – I don’t own – that office at all. So for me to say that I’m exempting myself from the existing law to say that I can smoke in my office as a privilege contradicts what we’re here for, why are we here. We’re here as public servants. We’re not any better than anyone out there definitely. We’re no better than any other state employee, and again we currently ban smoking in all state government buildings with one exemption, and that’s the State Capitol, and that’s our offices.

So again I believe that most everyone in here believes this is an acceptable rule change. And with that I’ll renew my rule change and entertain any questions. And I’d like to move for the adoption of the amendment.”

At t=19:16: “The gentleman from Boone has asked for the adoption of House Amendment 1. Discussion?”

rep-mike-cierpiot-r-majority-floor-leader

Rep. Mike Cierpiot (R) Majority Floor Leader

At t=19:22: “Gentleman from Jackson.”

Rep. Mike Cierpiot at t=19:23: “Just to quickly speak on the Amendment.

First, I believe the spirit of the Amendment is reasonable and is something we might decide to do. But the proper way to do it, in my opinion, is caucus position.

The enforcement of the rules would be difficult and I think it opens issues that we haven’t really thought through. And I know the minority caucus has done it before and it’s going to consider that soon, and in my opinion that’s the way to do it.

I encourage the majority to vote against this amendment.

t=19:54:  “Discussion? Seeing none, the gentleman from Boone you’re recognized to close.”

t=19:59: “Again, Mr. Speaker, I believe that this is a simple rule change to make, one that we can all agree upon, and with that I renew my motion.”

t=20:13: “The gentleman from Boone has renewed his motion for the adoption of House Amendment 1. All those in favor signify by saying “Aye.” Opposed “No.”

The Noes clearly have it. You’ve failed to adopt House Amendment 1. t=20:26 min.

The following information on the two speakers is available from the Mo House Members directory:

rep-kip-kendrick-d-minority-whip

Rep. Kendrick

Rep. Kip Kendrick (D) District 045
http://house.mo.gov/districtmap.aspx?district=045
Minority Whip
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 106-B
Jefferson City MO 65101
Legislative Assistant: Donna Scheulen
Phone: 573-751-4189
E-Mail: Kip.Kendrick@house.mo.gov

The above district is centered on Columbia, MO.

rep-mike-cierpiot-r-majority-floor-leader

Rep. Cierpiot

Rep. Mike Cierpiot (R) District 030
http://house.mo.gov/districtmap.aspx?district=030
Majority Floor Leader
MO House of Representatives
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 302-A
Jefferson City MO 65101
Legislative Assistant: Stephanie Willis
Phone: 573-751-0907
E-Mail: <Mike.Cierpiot@house.mo.gov>

The above district is southeast of Kansas City, MO.