2016-01-15 P-D: “City smoking ban remains in force, St. Louis judge rules”


For Better or For Worse, by Lynn Johnston, St. Louis Post-Dispatch 01.19.2016

Ellen Patterson’s brother, Phil, above, relapsed back to his nicotine addiction after encountering some personal pressure.

But Trophy Room owner Herbert Krischke couldn’t face going smoke-free at all, despite the St. Louis City bar exemption expiring on Jan. 1st, 2016, following a 5-year delay.  Instead, as it was about to go into effect,  Mr. Krischke sought an injunction to prevent it from happening. The aim was to permanently postpone the day of reckoning, as reported by Christine Byers in the Post-Dispatch story on Wednesday, December 30th, headlined St. Louis bar wins delay in fight against city smoking ban.

Part of the argument his attorney used is that it targets St. Louis bars while giving St. Louis casinos, such as Lumière Place, an exemption, and forced it to “unfairly compete with other smoking bars in nearby St. Louis County, where exemptions remain in place.”

However, when the judge took up the case he ruled against the Trophy Room for reasons given in the story reproduced below.

I have some sympathy for those who argue against fundamentally unfair exemptions for some and not others. Of course, that’s a problem that’s been dogging how the issue of smoke-free air was legislated from the beginning, because smoking for literally decades was treated almost as a civil right that can’t be restricted. And when smoke-free air ordinances at last became more commonplace, exemptions were sought for restaurants or other venues, usually on specious grounds like being “private businesses,” which somehow meant that on this one issue they were untouchable.

Turning to St. Louis County, it should take the next step and remove exemptions for small bars and taverns. County Executive Steve Stenger, who originally insisted on these exemptions in exchange for his support when he was still a county councilman, should take the lead now. Ideally, he and Mayor Slay should work together on really leveling the playing field, for the benefit of patrons and employees, by making all local casinos smoke-free. It’s the right thing to do and won’t lead to a loss of revenue, as opponents claim.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch story is reproduced below, generating 38 comments:

City smoking ban remains in force, St. Louis judge rules

January 15, 2016 5:00 pm  • 

ST. LOUIS  •  A circuit judge denied a St. Louis bar’s request to temporarily block the city from enforcing its smoking ban.
St. Louis Circuit Judge David L. Dowd ordered on Friday that the Trophy Room bar did not show sufficient evidence of immediate irreparable harm.
“The balance between the harm to petitioners and injury to others does not weigh in favor of granting a preliminary injunction,” Dowd wrote. “Finally, the public interest would not be furthered by granting a preliminary injunction in this matter.”
The Trophy Room had won a ten day reprieve in order to argue its case. Now, the bar was go non-smoking.
The bar, at 5099 Arsenal, argued the city’s 2011 “Smoke Free Air Act” was unconstitutional, granted unfair exemptions, was vague, and forced the bar to unfairly compete with other smoking bars in nearby St. Louis County, where exemptions remain in place.
The law, which granted 100 bars five-year smoking exemptions in 2011, went into full force on Jan. 2.  Exemptions for casino gaming areas and tobacco stores, like Lumiere Place Casino or Stanley’s Cigar Bar in downtown, remain in place.
The Trophy Room’s suit argues that the law “grants a special or exclusive right, privilege or immunity” to casinos such as Lumière, which would keep its exemption. Bar owners say that sets a double standard.
The Trophy Room argued that it operates Missouri Lottery’s Keno game, which makes it a gaming area.
“The court does not find it is probable that petitioners’ retail license to sell Missouri Lottery products renders the subject property a ‘casino gaming area,'” Dowd wrote.
It remains unclear how vigorously the city will enforce the ordinance. Bars can be fined $500 a day for violating it, but so far no citations have been written.

2015-11-30 Dr Roach’s P-D column: “Doctors should practice what they preach”

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Kenneth Roach, MD

Kenneth Roach, MD

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch publishes a medical advice column every weekday in the  comics section. Originally written by Dr. Donahue, it’s been taken over by Dr. Kenneth Roach of the Weill Cornell  Medical College. Today he responded to a letter reproduced below concerning hospital smoking.

It’s amazing that this is still a problem, but I also recall how surprisingly difficult it has been to get hospitals to address this seriously until the relatively recent past. As I’ve noted before, instead of being in the vanguard of the smoke-free air movement, they were really slow to respond.

I recall a visit to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in downtown St. Louis to ask them about permitted smoking in the entrance foyer and in the wards. I also queried how they could square offering tobacco products in their shop with their medical mission. The reply to this was that their volunteers raised significant amounts from tobacco sales, and they also didn’t want to force their patients to have to leave the hospital for their smoking needs.

Back in those days smoking was permitted on the oncology floor with cancer patients, with visitors being allowed to smoke too. I was told of instances when nurses would respond aggressively when a by nonsmoking patient would complain. What hell that must have been.


Vivian Dietemann (Photo captured from TV)

Asthmatic Vivian Dietemann, whose son Christopher also had asthma needing many medical visits for treatment, had serious difficulty with the smoking she encountered when visiting doctor’s offices and clinics. She ended up filing multiple complaints under the Americans with Disabilities Act to try to bring about institutional change, which prompted MoGASP to follow suit over Lambert Airport’s smoking, embarking on our longest-running campaign. Starting in 1993, it didn’t end until the successful approval of Proposition-N: “Indoor Clean Air Code,” on the November 3, 2009 St. Louis County ballot. Lambert Airport finally took out it’s smoking rooms before the smokefree air ordinance went into effect on Jan. 2, 2011. 

Health professionals: Practice what you preach

Dear Dr. Roach • I retired from a large hospital after smoking was prohibited in the building. At that time, doctors still smoked in their lounge, and other employees — nurses, technicians, etc. — smoked on the adjacent strip-mall property or in their personal vehicles. I imagine that the doctors no longer smoke in their lounge and are not seen in public view, but employees still smoke in public view. It’s obvious because most of the medical staff wear scrubs. — L.

Answer • Health care professionals can make bad decisions about their health, but I agree with your implication that they have an obligation not to do so while in the role of someone concerned for health.

I certainly have seen physicians in white coats smoking outside my own (previous) hospital, and routinely see other health professionals do so. It’s hypocrisy for us to then tell others not to smoke. So, to my colleagues in medicine: Please don’t smoke when you are recognizable as a health professional. It makes it harder to get people to quit.

“Merchants of Doubt” Part 2

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[I started writing this “Merchants of Doubt” Part 2, but while doing so a flood of memories came back to me. If time permits, I’ll add some in a later blog.]

Merchants of Doubt_5031Weaving a gifted performer of card tricks into this movie was a stroke of genius.
Jay Ian Swiss earns money legitimately by demonstrating to his audience something they know is fake but cannot fathom out how.

Contrast that to the successful tobacco industry, who knew their product was both highly addictive and killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, yet denying it strenuously and successfully for decades in order to continue profiting from it.

Subsequently other industries causing harm and facing critics recognized that they could learn from Big Tobacco, employing deniers to bamboozle the public.

Below are screen shots with audio transcript captured from the opening part of the movie, starting with an animated nicotine-addicted King of Diamonds in the movie’s credits:

King of diamonds sm_5029 King of diamonds smoking_5030
First he’s smoke-free …….

Then he’s not!

(Click any image to enlarge; back arrow top left to return to this page)

Jamy Ian Swiss_5046Jay Ian Swiss, Magician:

     My expertise is in deception. The thing that sets magicians apart from con men and other kinds of thieves and liars is that we’re honest liars. It’s the moral contract.

Swiss is introduced to an intimate audience and while he’s shown performing he continues:

“I’m saying, I’m gonna fool you but it’s OK, right, that’s my job. But I’m gonna bring you back whence you began in a not severely altered condition.”

After being shown performing some amazing sleight-of-hand card tricks Swiss concludes:

“I make an honest living, right?
Therefore, it offends me when someone takes the skills of my honest living, if you will, and uses it to twist and distort and manipulate people and their sense of reality in how the world works.
I know how to fool people, and I know how to recognize when people are being fooled.”

Steve Milloy JunkScience.com_5052Short clip of Steve Milloy, who maintains a website JunkScience.com which evidently focuses on attacking and seeking to undermine good science, being interviewed and stating:

“Dioxin, pesticides, chemicals in general: there’s no evidence that these are harming us.”

Below is a clip from the movie, kindly provided by Melissa Robledo, Robert Kenner Films, after a request to Dr. Stan Glantz, and from which the still images in the previous blog were captured.

And below, in response to a TV host’s claim that his smoking harms no one at work, I’ve pasted Stan Glantz’s most memorable scientific rejoinder during the entire clip:

Glantz_No, that’s bullsh-t_5087

No, that’s bullsh-t!

2014 movie “Merchants of Doubt” & how tobacco deniers led the pack

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I recently viewed this 2014 movie, rented from Netflix, called “Merchants of Doubt,” after it received highly rated reviews. It deserves those plaudits. In both an informative and entertaining way, it presents the facts about the deception practiced by polluting industries, leading with the tobacco industry which laid the groundwork for methods used by others, including more recently climate change deniers. It compares it with the deception practiced by a card trick performer.

A two minute trailer is on-line at ‘Merchants of Doubt’ Trailer (2015)2:01’Merchants of Doubt’ Trailer (2015), but neither that nor this blog which follows really does justice to this movie.

After an introduction by an expert demonstrating a card trick, the movie begins by describing the tobacco industry’s deliberate tactic of creating doubt about the dangers of secondhand smoke (SHS), and how that was finally countered by science, helped by highly secret and damaging industry documents leaked anonymously to Dr. Stan Glantz at the University of California, Berkeley.

Glantz describes how he’s initially treated as a virtual pariah, with clips from one TV show in which he participates and is confronted both by a belligerent smoking host, and an apologist denying the dangers of secondhand smoke, whom he confronts head-on with study after study.

Here are screen shots from this segment of the movie together with a transcript. The host starts off by saying:
“What in the world is so wrong about smoking in the workplace. I mean, I smoke in my job every night and I’m not hurting anyone.”

Stan Glantz (SG) replies, while getting bleeped for using the following expletive:
“That’s bullshit!” A comment which gets a strong audience reactions.

Glantz present_5018
Cut to SG being interviewed for the documentary:
“One thing you’ve got to be willing to do when you’re doing science that is not in the interests of these giant corporations: when people come after you for baloney reasons you’ve got to be willing to stand up to them.”

Secondhand smoke hazard denier (Denier):
Glantz opponent_5001
“I don’t know of any evidence, any CONCLUSIVE evidence …”

Glantz opponent raising hand_5019
Stan Glantz (SG), offering him the first EPA report on SHS:
Denier: “That, that …”
SG: “You can read this.”

Glantz dumps more reports on his lap and Denier reacts angrily, raising his voice:
Glantz opponent_5002

As Glantz plonks another study on his lap, the opponent holds up his hand:

Glantz opponent objecting 4th study_5020

Glantz opponent flinging studies_5005
Denier, exasperated, flings studies over his shoulder, to roars from the audience.

Back to Glantz, again being interviewed for the documentary:
“We spent a long time banging our heads up against the wall because these guys are rich, they’re politically powerful, and they’re mean.”

Host confronts a seated Glantz, adopting an aggressive manner:
Host interrogating Glantz_5009
“How old are you?”
“I’m 42.”

Host 4 packs a day_5017
Host, emphasizing by holding up four fingers:

Host pointing finger_5013
“I am FIFTY FIVE.”(Audience erupts).
“Wait a second, wait a second.”

Host pointing at Glantz_5014

(View of Glantz with tousled hair leaning back in his chair.)

Glantz commentary: “But when you went to policy makers or media to talk about how dishonest and manipulative they were, people would kind of think you were a little paranoid delusional.”

2015-10-15 P-D: “Dear Abby” gets it wrong! … Or does she?

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In today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch Everyday section (page EV3), “Dear Abby,” aka Abigail Van Buren, addresses a letter from a concerned smoke-sensitive non-smoker. My initial reaction was that Abby’s advice was lacking sensitivity for the non-smoker and plain wrong. But then I had second thoughts.

(My wife commented that Carolyn Hax, who writes a similar column, would give a more nuanced response with several options and the consequence of each.)

What do you think?

Actually, it reminds me of my situation and my wife’s French family, many of whom were smokers, including an older sister who was also a medical doctor!

Back then, of course, “doctors” were recommending cigarette brands, such as Camel, as in this ad on the Stanford School of Medicine website at http://tinyurl.com/c878lbo:

R. J. Reynolds campaign which ran from 1940 to 1949 and claimed that

R. J. Reynolds campaign which ran from 1940 to 1949 and claimed that “More Doctors smoke Camels.”

Here’s the letter and response:

Dear Abby: My husband and I have been married 10 years. Half of his family are smokers. Every year, there has been a family gathering at his dad’s house. Since the birth of my first child, smoking has become forbidden in that home.

This year, however, the party will be held at the home of another where smoking will be permitted. I can’t handle smoke. It gives me a sore throat and I cough for a week after exposure. Because of my reaction and for the health of my children, I don’t want to attend. (When we get home we have to immediately shower and launder our clothing to get rid of the smell.)

My husband is adamant that we SHOULD attend and bring the kids. He was raised around smoking and doesn’t see what the “big deal” is. What can I say or do to convince him not to force me and our children to be exposed to the health hazards of secondhand smoke? Am I being unreasonable because it’s only one night a year?

— Hater of smoking in West Virginia

Dear Hater Of Smoking: I think so. Much as you might like, you can’t raise your children in a bubble. I would hate to see you isolate your children from their aunts, uncles, cousins and any grandparents who are still alive during their once-a-year holiday celebration. If you would prefer not to attend because you can’t stand the smell of the smoke, stay home. But do not prevent your children from knowing the family. Assuming they don’t have health issues, one evening of exposure to cigarette smoke shouldn’t be harmful.

Write Dear Abby at http://www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

2015-08-18 P-D: “Higher Tobacco Taxes?”

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Higher Tobacco Taxes? was the lead story on the front page of today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, describing two proposals to raise the cigarette tax from 17 cents a pack to 40 cents. What is most intriguing is that both are spearheaded by the self-same group, the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, led by Executive Director Ron Leone, that has successfully opposed previous efforts to raise Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax.

[For a previous blog featuring Ron Leone please click here: 2012-11-07 P-D: “Missouri keeps tobacco tax as the lowest in the nation”]

It transpires that this is being pursued not for altruistic reasons but to head off a potentially larger tax increase if a competing initiative to raise the tax by 50 cents to 67 cents a pack is successful.  How marvelously devious.

New campaign to raise Missouri’s tobacco tax could fund transportation projects 

21 hours ago  •  By Leah Thorsen

69 on-line comments to date


Missouri’s 17-cent per pack tax on cigarettes is the lowest in the nation. Here’s a look at what Missouri’s neighboring states impose:

Illinois: $1.98
Iowa: $1.36
Kansas: $1.29
Arkansas: $1.15
Oklahoma: $1.03
Nebraska: 64 cents
Tennessee: 62 cents
Kentucky: 60 cents

Source: Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

The latest appeal for an increase in Missouri’s tobacco tax came Monday from an organization that has successfully fought to keep the state’s tax the lowest in the nation.
          The Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association filed two nearly identical versions of an initiative petition seeking a statewide vote to raise the tax on cigarettes to 40 cents a pack.
          That’s a 135 percent increase, but it’s less than two other proposals being floated and more likely to win voter approval, the trade group says.
          One of the group’s proposals could mean $800 million over a decade to be used for transportation funding, it says. Any measure would require a signature-gathering campaign before going before voters.
          Missouri’s current state cigarette tax is 17 cents a pack, the lowest of any state in the nation.
          The proposed increase would be phased in, with an additional 13-cent tax per pack going into effect on Jan. 1, 2017; an additional 5 cents on Jan. 1, 2019; and the remaining 5 cents on Jan. 1, 2021.
          The group — which fought all three tobacco-tax increases ultimately rejected by voters since 2002 — also is proposing a 50 percent tax increase on other tobacco products.
          Under one version, the proceeds would fund transportation. Under the other, the money would go to the state’s general revenue fund.

Ron Leone

Ron Leone

          Ron Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said his group will see which is more popular with voters, but he expects Missouri voters to support the version allocating the extra money to fund transportation projects. He also said it would allow Missouri stores to keep their tax advantage over border states.
          A 40-cent tax on cigarettes would keep Missouri’s tobacco tax among the lowest nationwide, topping only Georgia and Virginia, which impose tobacco taxes of 37 cents and 30 cents respectively, according to the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.
          He said the hike would be equivalent to a 3-cent hike in the gasoline tax. A measure to increase the state’s fuel tax by 2 cents died this year in the Legislature, and that has caused the state to dial back on transportation spending.
          No Missouri Department of Transportation expansion projects, such as new lanes, interchanges or bridges, are planned over the next five years. That represents a first in the department’s history, the result of a bleak funding outlook.
          The belt-tightening comes as MoDOT braces for lean years after the death of the fuel tax hike and rejection by voters of a sales tax increase that would have provided about $5.4 billion over 10 years for roads and bridges as well as ports, railways and public transit.
         “Would it solve our transportation problems? No,” Leone said of his group’s proposal. “Would it help our problems? Absolutely.”
          If successful in collecting enough signatures — a minimum of 157,788 from six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts — a measure would be up for a vote in the November 2016 election. The two initiatives submitted Monday to the secretary of state’s office brings the total to 80.
          And Leone’s group isn’t the only one with an idea for where money from a tax-hike on tobacco could go.
          Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster, a front-runner for the 2016 Democratic gubernatorial nomination, in Marchcalled for the state to pass a cigarette tax hike to around 90 cents a pack with the money earmarked to fund college scholarships for state students. No such petition has been filed to get that measure on the ballot.
          The group Raise Your Hand for Kids has filed its petition and is also pursuing a November 2016 ballot initiative to increase Missouri’s tobacco tax and use the money for early childhood education and health screenings for children ages birth to 5.
          The group wants to increase the tax by 50 cents — to 67 cents a pack — to bring in an additional $250 million a year for screening programs, home visits and child care from birth through age 5.
Under the plan, St. Louis County, with the highest population of young children in the state, would gain about $37.5 million in funding. St. Louis would gain nearly $14 million. St. Charles and Jefferson counties would gain $15.7 million and $9.5 million respectively.
          But voters have turned down other tax hikes, most recently in 2012 when they were asked to raise tobacco taxes by 73 cents a pack. Nearly 51 percent of voters rejected the plan to raise $283 million for smoking cessation programs, K-12 education and higher education.

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2015-04-23 P-D Comics: Dilbert’s attitude to smoking

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In today’s comics section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Dilbert had something to say about smoking during a technical interview:

Dilbert dt150423

Well, I didn’t know about this 2010 Israeli study either and I found it surprising. In part, that was because my former next door neighbor in Harlow, England, who had a Ph.D. in Chemistry, was a bright guy working for 3M and also an addicted smoker. (He finally quit, thanks to pressure from family members, including his asthmatic son.)

Dr. Evarts Graham, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, was a long-time cigarette smoker who, together with Ernst Wynder, was the first to report a definitive link between smoking and lung cancer. Dr. Graham later died of lung cancer in 1957 at age 73.

So, back to Dilbert’s reference to a 2010 Israeli study that smokers have a lower IQ than nonsmokers. It turns out that there IS such a study, and you can find it reported here:

Smoking linked to lower IQ’s


But it’s not that smoking LOWERS your IQ. It’s that those with LOWER IQ’s are more likely to smoke. As reported in the article, Dr. Mark Weiser from the Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer Hospital in Israel said:

“It’s very clear that people with low IQs are the ones who choose to smoke. It’s not just a matter of socioeconomic status – if they are poor or have less education – and because of that do less well on IQ tests. And that’s really the story,” he says.