Dueling letters in Webster-Kirkwood Times

IMPORTANT NOTICE to those wishing to comment on this blog: You MUST provide your real identity. Anonymous submissions will be rejected. I’m tired of commenters hiding behind pseudonyms. In future, I’ll be more inclined to allow comments from those honest enough to provide their identities, whether pro or con, although I still reserve the right to edit or reject submissions. Plus, no epithets!

I was recently made aware of the following two dueling letters which appeared in recent consecutive editions of the weekly Webster-Kirkwood Times.

The first is from Jean Loemker, a Kirkwood resident who was very active in promoting the successful smoke-free air petition initiative, overwhelmingly approved at the polls last November.

The second is a rebuttal from David Kuneman of Rock Hill in St. Louis County, a retired pharmaceutical chemist who, before Bill Hannegan appeared on the scene, was the most vocal opponent of local smoke-free air efforts. He has posted extensively on The Smokers’ Club at http://kuneman.smokersclub.com/. According to his disclosure on that site:

“Dave Kuneman, who smokes, worked for 6 years in the 1980s as a research chemist for Seven-Up and still draws a small pension from that work. At the time of his employment Seven-Up was owned by Philip Morris.” He is described as a “noncompensated director of research of the Smokers’ Club Inc.”

Following these two letters is a response I submitted in support of smoke-free air efforts which as of today had not been accepted for publication.

Just some background on Jean Loemker. She is a health professional who was active in both efforts by Kirkwood residents to enact a comprehensive smoke-free air ordinance by ballot initiative. The first was in 2006 when a grass-roots group of local residents formed Citizens for a Smoke Free Kirkwood. After the city council, led by the late mayor, refused to adopt the proposed ordinance language, it went on the November 2006 ballot. It was defeated following a disinformation campaign by the city council which claimed the definition of smoking in the proposed ordinance was so broad it would even prohibit outdoor barbecues on the Fourth of July!

The second petition initiative in 2009, promoted by a new grass-roots group called HEALTHY AIR FOR KIRKWOOD, adopted a simpler definition for smoking and learned from the mistakes of the earlier effort. Again the city council refused to enact it by ordinance so it went to a vote of the people. But this time the result was far different, with it being approved by a whopping 2:1 majority at the polls last November. The ordinance went into effect on January 2, 2010, and garnered publicity from the local news media. [Please see earlier blogs, such as KTVI Fox2 News 1/2/2010: “Kirkwood Smoking Ban Takes Effect Saturday”]

Lawmakers Take Up State Ban

Missouri lawmakers will have a rare opportunity this session to save lives and improve the health of their constituents. They can do this by supporting the proposed changes to the “Clean Indoor Air Act,” otherwise known as HB 1766.

Representatives Walt Bivens (R) and Jill Schupp (D) introduced House Bill 1766 for the first reading in the Missouri Senate on Friday, Jan. 22. HB 1766 has strong bipartisan support with 20 sponsors from rural counties, as well as the Kansas City and the St. Louis metropolitan areas. HB 1766, if adopted by the Missouri legislature, would make Missouri the 42nd state in the nation to adopt a comprehensive smoke-free law, joining 71 percent of the U.S. population that has already adopted smoke-free workplace laws.

The CDC estimates that over 10,600 Missourians die each year from tobacco use and the harmful effects of second-hand smoke. The annual health care cost due to tobacco use in Missouri is a staggering $2,130,000,000. The proposed changes will be effective in protecting all workers and patrons from the health hazards of second-hand smoke.

Please extend a special thanks to our area representatives Jeanne Kirkton (D-Webster Groves) and Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) for taking a leadership role in protecting the health and lives of all Missourians.

To read HB 1766 go to: http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking/bills101/biltxt/intro/HB1766I.htm.

Jean Loemker
Kirkwood
January 28, 2010

David Kuneman, testifying in Aug. 2009

Smoking Bans Hurts Area Bars, Restaurants

Jean Loemker, in her Jan. 29 letter seems under the impression that 41 states already have comprehensive smoke free laws. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, most recent state smoking bans have exemptions. For example, Pennsylvania and Florida exempt free-standing bars. New Jersey and Pennsylvania exempt some casino space, Oklahoma exempts walled off and separately ventilated restaurant space, many states exempt airport smoking lounges and the list goes on and on.

This is because it’s getting increasingly obvious that smoking bans do harm business, and the more the hospitality venue is associated with customer lingering, the worse the harm. The National Restaurant association found bans hurt table service restaurants, where customers linger for two or three hours, about 20 percent.

Kirkwood’s ban is comprehensive to the Nth degree. Customers are migrating to surrounding jurisdictions, and those jurisdictions will still be able to allow smoking in those establishments where bans hurt business most – even after the county ban kicks in next year.

Ban proponents promise no economic harm, then when a situation like Kirkwood’s develops, they claim surrounding areas must also have bans to “level the playing field.” If bans did not harm business, there would be no need to “level the playing field.” With such light turnout, voters who approved these bans may not be representative of those who spend the most money in the establishments which are most likely to suffer.

Even when a ban is statewide, U.S. Department of Commerce data show that the fraction of total retail sales that are bar and restaurant sales, is 8 percent lower in states with bans. Most restaurants operate on a 5 percent profit margin.

About 20 percent of our voters turned out when the bans were placed on the ballot and about 40 percent of those opposed the bans. This means about 8 percent of our total electorate oppose bans. That matches closely with the 8 percent lower bar and restaurant sales in states with bans.

Our country’s economic success over the last 200 years has been due to our ability to freely operate enterprises to maximize profit. Neither Kirkwood voters nor the state legislature should meddle with that.

David W. Kuneman
Rock Hill
February 04, 2010

My response, submitted to the Webster-Kirkwood Times on-line, has not been published at this point but is pasted below:

Missouri House Bill 1766, sponsored by Rep. Walt Bivens (R), is a strong smoke-free air bill with few exemptions, as noted by Jean Loemker, Kirkwood, in her Jan. 28 letter “Lawmakers Take Up State Ban.” If approved, it will replace the 1992 Missouri Clean Indoor Air Act, which has weak provisions [see on-line http://tinyurl.com/ybevhkj%5D but importantly, thanks in part to opposition from Missouri GASP, doesn’t contain a preemption clause sought by the tobacco lobby, thereby permitting stronger local ordinances. 

Mr. Kuneman, in his Feb. 4 letter “Smoking Bans Hurts Area Bars, Restaurants,” is wrong in stating that progress on implementing comprehensive smoke-free air protection is stalling because they harm business.

Both more states and more municipalities are adopting such comprehensive laws. Americans for Nonsmokers Rights (ANR) lists 18 such states (plus Puerto Rico), with Wisconsin and Michigan joining them later this year [on-line at http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/WRBLawsMap.pdf].

ANR also lists 375 municipalities with comprehensive smoke-free air ordinances in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. This includes Ballwin, Independence, Kansas City, Kirkwood, Lee’s Summit, Liberty, and North Kansas City.

Kirkwood’s ordinance went into effect Jan. 2, 2010, thanks to the efforts of Ms. Loemker and others in the grass-roots group, HEALTHY AIR FOR KIRKWOOD. In July, Clayton will follow.

The tobacco lobby initially opposed smoke-free air laws by arguing that secondhand smoke wasn’t harmful. When that was soundly debunked by successive U.S. Surgeon General’s Reports, starting in 1986, industry surrogates like Mr. Kuneman started arguing that it was bad for business, especially restaurants and bars.

Mr. Kuneman concludes his letter: “Our country’s economic success over the last 200 years has been due to our ability to freely operate enterprises to maximize profit.”

That ignores the enormous progress that has been made in protecting the health and safety of those working for private employers, thanks to countless health, sanitation, and building regulations, while private business has continued to thrive.

Why should secondhand smoke, a major air pollutant, which requires only “No Smoking” signage and ashtray removal to remedy, be off-limits to regulation?

16 responses to “Dueling letters in Webster-Kirkwood Times

  1. Why should secondhand smoke, a major air pollutant, which requires only “No Smoking” signage and ashtray removal to remedy, be off-limits to regulation?

    Why should everybody have to put up with the non-smoking whiney cry babies when all they have to do is read a sign that says smoking is permitted and go elsewhere…..no law required and everybodys needs are met!

    Now if you wanna debate your other claim about major air pollution……lets do her if you will even put it up on the comments here as you have been so selective when I provided other detailed information in the past!

    • Stop making ad hominem attacks on those with whom you disagree. Would you like to be called a “whiney cry baby” because you can’t smoke indoors anymore anytime a nicotine urge occurs? You also need to work on keeping your comments brief and to the point.
      And finally and most importantly, this new rule applies: identify yourself and don’t hide behind a pseudonym if you want your submissions to be considered in the future.

  2. Why? Because it DOES hurt privately owned, FAMILY OWNED businesses. In Ohio, 313 drinking places (as coded by Dept. of Taxation) closed their doors. According to this news article, more Ohioans are “drinking more booze than ever before”..AT HOME AND AT PARTIES while wholesale sales took a steep decline. http://www.daytondailynews.com/o/content/shared-gen/blogs/dayton/taste/entries/2009/01/15/ohioans_drinking_more_liquor_a.html
    When MOGASP starts posting how “hospitality” industry employment is not hurt, look beyond the catch-all phrase “hospitality”. Restaurants depend on getting customers in and out to refill their seats to make money. The bar industry depends on regulars to stay for 2 or 3 brews. Typically, restaurants outnumber bars 5:1 while restaurant employees outnumber bar employees 10:1. Statistically, 1 little laid off bar employee gets lost compared to 50 restaurant employees. It’s a trick of tobacco control.

    If you don’t care that MANY Missouri bar owners will close their doors, then think how much enforcing the ban is going to cost taxpayers. Ohio’s been has been enforced since May, 2007. There have been, through 2009, 47,190 complaints filed and they continue to be filed. According to the Dept. of Health, the State of Ohio has spent $3,190,000 to enforce the ban. To date, they’ve issued $1,137,45 in fines. That leaves taxpayers with a $2,052,550 bill for enforcing. Does Missouri have that much money to throw away?

    Bar owners have 2 choices only. They can either obey a law, lose vast amounts of money and close their doors, OR they can disobey the law, make money while they can and have the state close them down. That is NO CHOICE for an entire employment segment.

    Leave the decision to the people who have their LIFE SAVINGS invested in THEIR businesses. Patrons can “vote” with their feet. If most feet want no smoking, free market will drive that decision.

    By the way, it’s not about protecting employees either. In Ohio, only 1 claim has ever been filed by an employee for workers comp. It was DENIED because they couldn’t prove harm from SHS. But, we HAVE had employees robbed at gunpoint because they were forced outside to smoke. Now, do you really care about the employees?

    • Pam, I’ll allow this comment but in future you need to identify yourself and not hide behind just a first name or pseudonym.
      As for your arguments, I’m not aware that the cost of enforcing speed limits has ever been suggested as a reason for abolishing them. Why should you offer the same argument, even if your cost facts are correct, regarding enforcing secondhand smoke laws? If public health is the issue, then that’s what comes first, before any of the extraneous smoke-screens like this one that opponents throw up.

  3. Pam (Pam Parker)

    That’s 313 closed businesses THE FIRST YEAR.

    My documentation is a set of emails from Jodi Miller of the Ohio Department of Taxation. (see below).

    These links are liquor sales data. Note the link on the opponentsofohiobans website has actual liquor reports from the Ohio Department of Commerce, Division of Liquor Control. Run you own numbers if you wish.
    This is a link to the liquor sales losses: http://opponentsofohiobans.com/losses.aspx
    This is a link to the newspaper article showing more Ohioans drinking more than ever before – AT HOME (and at parties): http://www.daytondailynews.com/o/content/shared-gen/blogs/dayton/taste/entries/2009/01/15/ohioans_drinking_more_liquor_a.html
    And this is the email correspondence I had with a Ms. Miller with the Ohio Department of Taxation.
    [MoGASP: Following is excerpted from a long e-mail]

    There were 162 “drinking places” (out of 2,345) who quit paying sales taxes Jan. – June 2007
    Plus another 151 “drinking places” (out of 2,345) who quit paying sales taxes July – December, 2007
    Thus the 313 closed businesses. You don’t just “quit” paying sales taxes unless you are no longer in business.

    Highlighted in blue is the data I used to get the 313 figure.

    Beyond this, if you want me to provide proof that these closed businesses and liquor sales losses are SOLELY attributed to the smoking ban, I will if you provide me 313 individuals who died from SHS and that SHS was the SOLE contributing factor.

    Pam Parker

    From: Jodi_Miller@tax.state.oh.us
    To: Pam
    Sent: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 1:52 PM
    Subject: Re: General Information/Sales & Use (KMM1020965V78409L0KM)

    Hi, Pam,

    I was able to access the records needed and was able to get some results for you.

    162 Ohio drinking establishments remitting taxes in the last half of 2006
    151 did not remit sales taxes as drinking establishments during the first half of 2007.

    2,231 Ohio drinking establishments remitted taxes in both the last half of 2006 and the first half of 2007.
    36 Ohio drinking establishments that had not filed sales taxes as drinking establishments in the last half of 2006 began filing in the first half of 2007.

    Thank you again for your patience.

    Jodi Noel Miller
    Ohio Department of Taxation, Tax Analysis Division
    telephone: 614.466.0095
    fax: 614.752.0700
    e-mail: jodi_miller@tax.state.oh.us

  4. Reverend Joe Sinnett

    My problem with bans are those who completely ignore the difference between Public and Private. Private Businesses derive there revenues from personal efforts while Public entities are supported by Private entities. Regulatory compliance requirements are for hidden dangers. For those who delight in destroying Businesses all in the name of we know what’s best for you, although possibly unintentionally,embrace the same core ideology of the Taliban or Alqaeda. The wish to dictate to others what will be and what won’t one in the name of Alah the Other in the name of Government. In an open debate there are no substantive elements to justify the hysteria and misrepresentation of those funded by Big Pharmaceuticals to promote smoking bans.

    • I’m afraid you are not distinguishing between “private,” as in someone’s private home to which the public is NOT invited, and is not a place where commerce is conducted, and where you don’t typically employ people, and “private workplace” where all these typically apply. In the latter case the government doesn’t just have an interest in the safe operation of those places it also has a DUTY. If you look at even the most stringent smoke-free air ordinance or Americans for Nonsmokers Rights current model ordinance, which contains this exemption:
      A. Private residences, except when used as a childcare, adult day care, or health care facility, and except as provided in Section 1007:
      A. All private and semi-private rooms in nursing homes.
      B. At least 80% of hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests..

  5. You neglect to mention the grants to the Healthy Air For Kirkwood,who you call a grassroots group. The core of this group have received grants, directly and indirectly, from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. They are the “philanthropic arm” for Johnson and Johnson and Pfizer drug companies, who market Chantix, Nicoderm, Nicorette, and Nicotrol. It is illegal for these companies to directly lobby, so they have found and created these non profits to do it for them.

    I am collecting information on this group’s funding, and it’s members. I highly doubt that their means or methods are any different than a hundred other towns, which have been taken in by nicotine replacement funded propaganda. I doubt that citizens will approve when they find out who finances all this hype, and why this is going on. And it is NOT to stop the selling of tobacco!
    I went to their web site. It contained the usual canned pro ban non science.
    You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time.
    But the foolish statements, and debunked studies on that site, are comical in their absurdity!

    • Where is your proof for this statement? You don’t provide a shred of evidence!
      NOTE: I’m allowing this letter from “sheila” in order to reply to it publicly but in future “sheila” you need to provide your true identity and not hide behind a pseudonym. That rule is being applied generally, although I may make exceptions, as on this occasion.

    • Thanks for providing your full name, which I’m not publishing.
      Please provide the evidence you have to support your statement that “Healthy Air For Kirkwood received grants, directly and indirectly, from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.”

  6. Hooray for Fascism

    Hooray for Fascism. Let us all jump up and down and sing in joy, like little children, but we are adults that know Fascism is evil and to make emotional decisions about our children’s future based on our government’s irrational anti-smoking agenda, is in not in their best interest.

    Capitalism can thrive without war. It is a producer of goods and services. Capitalism trades with other countries. Fascism depends on the demise of Capitalism. Fascism destroys the means of producing goods and services necessitating invasion against other countries.

    Big Government assists Fascism to exist by forcing their will upon the population with more and more sweeping legislations. Small Government relies upon the strength of the people, not their weaknesses’, to project hope into the future.

    Capitalism requires courage to move forward, Fascism cowardice. Fascism always hides, represses their rotting, self-betrayed inner state while spewing “there is no hope, the earth is dying” mentality upon the world. Anti-smoking bans are part of this process.

    The earth is not dying, but the strident forcefulness of ‘chicken littleism, politicized environmentalism, Fascism’ must be identified and eradicated.

    • Big Government = Fascism?! You throw words around with little thought. Just to put you on notice, Ken: If this is the extent of your contribution to this blog I’m afraid it may be the last allowed. And I’m not Big Government, just a scientist who’s interested in reliable information on the subject of SHS.

  7. From a non-smoker, these are the profound words of philosopher/novelist Ayn Rand, “I like to think of fire held in a man’s hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips. I often wonder about the hours when a man sits alone, watching the smoke of a cigarette, thinking. I wonder what great things have come from such hours. When a man thinks, there is a spot of fire alive in his mind–and it is proper that he should have the burning point of a cigarette as his one expression.”

    Words of this nature come from the courage of Capitalistic thinking, not the cowardice of Fascist thinking, that is enviously spreading like wildfire.

    Quote from Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged

    • Ken, I’m allowing your post, despite it basically being nothing more than a way to label those with whom you disagree with an epithet, i.e. Fascist. Once you’re addicted to nicotine then it certainly becomes a problem to sit and think without reaching for a cigarette when the brain needs another hit. But are you telling me there were no great philosophers etc. before the invention of the modern cigarette, which appeared towards the end of the 19th century? I wonder how the ancient Greeks ever managed to think of anything creative?!

  8. The thing is….. E- cigs have now been shown to not appreciably elevate a smokers serum nicotine, while patches and gum do,,,, yet patches and gum are allowed under smoke-free laws while E-cigs ( which emit nothing) are banned. E-cigs have now been shown to eliminate smokers cravings too.

    So,,,how can something which does nto give smokers nicotine satisfy the craving while patches and gum do not? Simple! if you look at the raw science, then it’s obvious smokers do not smoke to get nicotine…they smoke because they like to.

    So stop that tired out calling us addicts bull…especially since so many nonsmokers also oppose bans.

    and better studies show bans do not improve public health,

    • I’m surprised that you are denying that nicotine from cigarette smoking is highly addictive. That’s been well-established for years. Smokers would have a much easier time quitting if the nicotine was absent. Remember the famous line attributed to Mark Twain, which goes something like:
      “Quitting smoking is easy. I’ve done it a hundred times!” Click the following to get the facts: The Health Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction: A Report of the Surgeon General
      As regards E-cigarettes, they may be safer than regular cigarettes (more research is needed), although they probably need to be federally regulated, but I’m not in favor of allowing them in places which are designated as smoke-free by law because of the confusion they would cause.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s