The following Letter to the Editor, published in the Jefferson City News Tribune, was from Janet Wilson, M.Ed., MPA, formerly Chief, Health Promotion Unit, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.
It was accompanied the same day by a Jefferson City News Tribune editorial also in favor of a smoke-free State Capitol, reinforcing the support for this measure.
Legislators opposed to making the State Capitol smoke-free may think the matter is behind them now but that may well prove to be wishful thinking. The secondhand smoke isn’t going away and objections to it won’t either.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch weekly cartoon caption competition took as its subject State Capitol smoking (see below). It attracted 361 submissions from readers, making it hard for the editors to pick a winner, who ended up (appropriately, perhaps) being Craig Kolb of Jefferson City (aka “Snowman,” who posted plenty of others). Some of the better ones I submitted on behalf of MoGASP are pasted below, following the cartoon.
That’s the only place tobacco lobbyist John Britton can smoke, with Jefferson City going smoke-free.
I think we’ve found Jefferson City’s “Smoking Section.”
I thought this was the People’s House. Turns out, it’s the Smoke House!
Looks like the tobacco lobbyists got here ahead of us!
I’ll join you in a moment. I just have to get my respirator.
I thought “smoke-filled rooms” were a thing of the past.
Hmm. Looks like they just make laws for the rest of us, just not for themselves.
Oops! I forgot to bring my gas mask!
I think they put the sign up just for us!
Secondhand smoke pollution? Looks like we won’t see much leadership on THAT issue!
I think the message is: “If you’re smoke-sensitive don’t bother coming in.”
Nobody ever said Missouri was a leader on smoke-free air.
I believe this is where Big Tobacco hangs out
Thank goodness the state motto, “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law,” doesn’t apply to us.
I guess this is why it’s called the “Smoke Me” state.
Lawmakers set poor example by failing to make Capitol entirely smoke-free
Jefferson City News Tribune
January 19, 2011
I was troubled that the Missouri House of Representatives defeated a resolution to make the state Capitol entirely smoke-free, including House members’ offices. It was troubling to hear one House member ask when attacks on personal liberties were going to stop.
The state Capitol and the offices therein are the property of the state of Missouri, not owned by individual members of the House. All other state office buildings have been smoke-free for many years where state employees are not allowed to smoke in their offices, or for that matter, in a designated smoking area.
Why should members of the House of Representative, also employees of the state, be allowed to smoke in their offices and expose their staff, colleagues, and importantly constituents to their tobacco smoke?
What kind of role modeling is this for the thousands of school children that visit the state Capitol every year?
Jefferson City News Tribune
January 19, 2011
Lawmakers burn public with exemption
Smoking remains on the list of rules that apply to almost everyone except elected lawmakers.
Most private and public employees — including state workers — must walk outdoors during breaks to smoke. The smoke break may be accompanied by rain, sleet, snow, rain or whatever inclement element may be in play that day.
Employees in the Capitol may take advantage of an indoor, designated smoking area in the northeast portion of the basement garage.
Senators and representatives, however, need not leave the cozy confines of their offices, where they determine the smoking policy.
We find this arrangement inequitable.
Both the Senate and House, to their credit, prohibit smoking in their respective chambers and galleries.
House members recently voted to continue the exemption for their offices, a policy also shared by senators.
We encourage reconsideration of this policy.
The public justifiably is resentful when lawmakers — whether local, state or federal — enact or exempt themselves from policies that apply to the general public.
Adding fuel to the rancor caused by this elitist attitude is that smoking has become a matter of public policy.
To advance public health, governments have adopted smoking regulations and prohibitions.
In the interest of equity, lawmakers deserve to follow the same rules they promulgate.
We urge legislators to set an example. Eliminate smoking in the Capitol.