2011/1/6 P-D Dueling Letters: Pro: “Capitol should be smoke-free, too” Con: “Fuming red-staters”

The above great editorial cartoon by R J Matson appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch two days ago to coincide with the new sweeping smoke-free air laws in St. Louis City and County.

The caption sums it up better than I could have done!

Below are two Letters to the Editor appearing in today’s Post-Dispatch with very different views on the subject of secondhand tobacco smoke. And Bill Hannegan and Co. are the first to post comments on-line, which are also reproduced below for their absence of logic.

Capitol should be smoke-free, too

A fresh batch of Missouri legislators convened this week for the start of the new legislative session. It may surprise them 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 Inc. assisted 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 except in the visitor’s 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.
         Today, senators and some House members are permitted to smoke in their offices, in a members lounge behind the House chamber and in a smoking area in the underground garage.
         St. Louis and St. Louis County, thanks to sweeping smoke-free air ordinances that became effective on Jan. 2, joined many other Missouri communities with clean-indoor-air ordinances. A smoke-free initiative petition was approved by Jefferson City voters, so now you can’t smoke in a Jefferson City bar, but you can smoke in the Capitol.
         What kind of example is the Missouri Capitol setting to young children when they smell smoke coming from legislators’ offices? What does this say about the legislators who allow this to continue?
         It really is time for the Capitol to go smoke-free.

Martin Pion • St. Louis County Missouri GASP [Group Against Smoking Pollution] Inc.

Fuming red-staters

In “Smoking ban puts the heat on bars” (Dec. 31), St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson, who introduced the city’s smoking-ban bill, said “… I look forward to the day when Missouri joins the rest of the world. The newsworthy thing is that we’re just getting there.” Ms. Krewson doesn’t approve of smoking and simply presumes that her personal dislikes represent the views of the enlightened world.
         It might come as a shock to her, and to Mayor Francis Slay, who decided to close the smoking lounges at Lambert Airport because, as he admitted to the Post-Dispatch in “Smoking on way out at Lambert” (Dec. 6), it irritated him to see people smoking at the facility, but they do not represent the opinion of the world. They actually represent a segment of liberal busybodies determined to impose their views on others.
         There are few restrictions on smoking in China, the most populous nation in the world. There are few restrictions in Africa, some Arab states, Russia, South Korea and Japan.
         Also, for our friends like Ms. Krewson, who insist that stamping out smoking is a public health issue, they might be surprised to find out that the Japanese have the world’s longest life expectancy.
         St. Louis may be joining the likes of California, Massachusetts and New York with the smoking ban, but we have become less like the 29 states that do not restrict public smoking.
         It is no wonder that many red-state Missourians now are fuming.

Brian Birdnow • Bellefontaine Neighbors

From Comments posted on-line:

Bill Hannegan said on: January 6, 2011, 3:18 am
What kind of man would try to pass laws stopping another man from smoking a cigar in his corner bar?

lugar said on: January 6, 2011, 5:55 am
Answer to Bill Hannegan: A Post dispatch commy editorial writer

3 responses to “2011/1/6 P-D Dueling Letters: Pro: “Capitol should be smoke-free, too” Con: “Fuming red-staters”

  1. Nicotine addiction harms not only the smoker but also those of us who are forced to inhale the toxic fumes from cigarettes, cigars and pipes. I have to live in a building with no restrictions on smoking (because I cannot afford my own home) so I’m constantly subjected to involuntary breathing of poisoned air produced by my neighbors. Of course everyone is free to do whatever they wish, but do they have a right to cause harm to others in the process ? It’s not like I can get up in the middle of the night when my bedroom gets filled with smoke and go sleep somewhere else. Smoking bans therefore are about protecting others from the harm caused by smokers and should be expaned till we can all be free to breathe clean air.

    • Horacio, Would you believe, this problem used to exist on the oncology floor in local hospitals! Thankfully, that’s not the case now but it was up to about 10-15 years ago. I received calls from people complaining about the smoking and asking for help.
      It’s going to be awhile before we tackle your thorny issue because it relates to private property in a way different from a private business. But it’s an issue already the subject of intense concern in more progressive parts of the country. Eventually it will be tackled and resolved here. BTW, a similar problem can arise in nursing homes.

  2. Mogasp points out that “a similar problem can arise in nursing homes.”

    Quite true. I had an email from a nursing home resident in Illinois a few years ago and passed it on to a colleague there. Note teh pictures included at the bottom:


    – MJM

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