2011/1/11 P-D: “Move to bar smoking in legislators’ offices falters”

The headline for the story by Post-Dispatch Jefferson City Bureau Chief, Virginia Young, was given a negative spin by whomever wrote it.

If could just as easily have been given a positive spin:

House legislators’ private lounge could finally go smoke-free

That is an important and symbolic gain, but still not the same as making the entire House side of the State Capitol smoke-free, which is the goal.

We’re talking about one of the last bastions of smoking, the place where deals are made in the proverbial “smoke-filled room.” Where John Britton, dean of the tobacco lobbyists, was declared a “smoking permitted” area by Senate resolution some years ago!

Senators regard their opulent private offices as their personal property, which they can stink up without anyone else telling them they can’t. House members aren’t quite so free: would-be smokers have to snag a smoking-permitted office.

In both cases it means non-smoking staff have to endure secondhand smoke as part of the job description. Children visiting the State Capitol have to put up with it too. And both employees and children reportedly get sick from it.

When the People’s House in Jefferson City finally goes smoke-free we’ll know something really significant has happened in the “Smoke-Me State.” Until then, wear a gas mask!

Martin Pion in the “No Smoking” Visitor’s Gallery overlooking the House chamber during debate of a statewide Clean Indoor Air Law on May 6, 1987. Pion donned the respirator when secondhand smoke began rising from the House chamber below.

Below is the story posted by reporter Virginia Young and following it the first few on-line Comments from readers, including one from Martin Pion, MoGASP President.

Move to bar smoking in legislators’ offices falters

By Virginia Young > 573-635-6178 > vyoung@post-dispatch.com | (10) Comments | Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 4:56 pm

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri House Rules Committee turned down a request today to prohibit smoking in lawmakers’ Capitol offices.
The request came from several legislators, including freshman Rep. Rory Ellinger, D-University City.
“We know that secondhand smoke kills,” said Ellinger, a former board member of the Missouri Foundation for Health.
Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, D-St. Louis, noted that many offices are shared by a dozen or more lawmakers and their staffs.
“Someone can confine their smoking to their cubicle but the smoke goes everywhere,” she said.
Their idea got no traction in the Rules Committee, which recommended other procedural changes for the session.
“I don’t think there was a consensus to do that, to take away peoples’ individual prerogative to do something in the privacy of their offices,” committee Chairman John Diehl, R-Town and Country, said after the meeting.
The committee did agree to bar smoking in the members-only gallery behind the House chamber.
Oxford said she’ll renew her request for smoke-free offices when the rules are put to a vote of the full House.


sockt61 said on: January 11, 2011, 7:07 pm
These are the same people who pass laws concerning many things that they then violate themselves.They don’t live by the same law they set.

Martin Pion said on: January 11, 2011, 7:07 pm
This is the People’s House, and not our elected representatives, and no one should have to endure or be sickened by secondhand smoke when they enter it. House members and Senators can either go outside to smoke or use a nicotine substitute for their addiction, e.g. nicotine gum, a patch, or snus, which pose no risk to anyone but the user.
There’s absolutely no justification for allowing anyone in the State Capitol to pollute the air others must breathe in that building.

ExtraExtra said on: January 11, 2011, 6:37 pm
I guess if there is a place I wouldn’t protest smoking it is where politicians work.

oncocyte said on: January 11, 2011, 6:20 pm
Calm down, everybody. If there is a lawsuit for cancer due to the legislator’s smoke, they will not have to pay anything personally. It will come out of our taxes, not their incomes. Feel better now?

dawger said on: January 11, 2011, 6:14 pm
I had just made a comment about Mo lawmakers appearing to break their own law by not giving 25% of the settlement money from tobacco companies to Life Science and Research fund. They have helped in passing bills to eliminate smoking in various establishments around Mo. Government offices should have been the 1st non-smoking areas! What an example these guys are. What is wrong with these pictures. Reminds me of “I do what I want, NOT what I’m told!” What’s up with that my Mo friends?

ClockN said on: January 11, 2011, 5:50 pm
Strange, are these not the same people who wrote the law banning smoking in other places around the state? What’s good for the goose should be good enough for the gander.

Bill Hannegan said on: January 11, 2011, 5:49 pm
Secondhand smoke may be a valid health concern, but the death tolls are just a matter of statistics. We don’t really know if anyone has actually died from secondhand smoke exposure.

wishlist09 said on: January 11, 2011, 5:47 pm
Well now, I guess it is do as we say, not as we do then? Thanks hypocrites!

2 responses to “2011/1/11 P-D: “Move to bar smoking in legislators’ offices falters”

  1. WOW Martin, why on earth do you leave your home! The gas mask is about as foolish as can be!

  2. Smoking has been known to make marginally rational people go bonkers over the sight of a smoker. The pleasure a smoker undertakes gets at the very craw of these marginally sane people in a way that defies explanation. The anti-smoker’ s brain crawls with unexplainable firing of synapses in the regions of logical thought. The anti-smoker begins to sweat uncontrollably, eyeballs begin spinning, and their heart rates spin out of control. There is no treatment or cure, other than a padded room for a spell.

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