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KSDK-TV News Channel 5 focused on the attorney’s comments to the media during the announcement of the lawsuit against Clayton near Shaw Park. That provides a good explanation of the various theories being pursued as the basis for repeal of the ordinance making the city’s public parks etc. smoke-free. MoGASP finds the attorney’s arguments are either flawed or a bit far-fetched and plans to respond to them in detail later.
Immediately below is the text accompanying the TV report on the Channel 5 website, followed by a full transcript of the attorney’s remarks to the media.
Arthur Gallagher said the ban on outdoor smoking in city parks is unconstitutional. His attorneys filed a lawsuit on his behalf. They believe smoking is an inherant right, and when done outside, poses no risk to others.
“There’s no rational basis for any kind of health risk from outdoor smoking,” said Bevis Schock, attorney. “It’s basically ridiculous. The doses, the poisons, nobody can get enough smoke to get hurt from an outdoor cigarette”
The City’s attorney Kevin M. O’Keefe issued a response:
“I hope Mr. Schock enjoys the publicity he so avidly seeks. The fact that Mr. Schock paid to advertise for a volunteer plaintiff for a suit he had written in advance and, in writing, said he would “be paid by The City of Clayton” is a sad and embarrassing commentary on the state of the legal profession.
“I also believe the fact that his pleading is prefaced by the musical musings of Groucho Marx in a make-believe place is telling evidence of the merits of the case.
“Clayton’s ordinance addresses litter and unhealthy conduct on property owned by the City. The legal basis for the ordinance is strong and straightforward and is not in any way beyond the City’s ability to protect its citizens and property.”
Transcript by MoGASP (1:39 min.):
We have a coupla theories.
One is that there’s no rational basis for any kinda health risk from outdoor smoking. It’s basically ridiculous. First of all, the dose is the poison: nobody can get enough smoke to get hurt from an outdoor cigarette.
Second of all, of course, we have barbecue pits, the baseball fields over in Shaw Park here are right next to an intersection of Forest Park Expressway and I-70 (sic) with all kinds of smog. To ban smoking is an improper infringement on liberty.
Also, under the law, certain things are so important in American culture and history that they become a fundamental right, and we think smoking is in that class, along with the rights of privacy and travel: things like that. So the government has to be very careful when it stops it.
What I think is interesting in this case is that the majority of people favor a smoking ban. That’s true. The voters were in favor of it. So we ask, how far can the government go to stop the minority from engaging in the pleasures of liberty; to enjoy a nice cigarette? How far can the majority control the minority?
That’s a very important question as to how we conduct ourselves as a nation.”
W. Bevis Schock, Attorney at Law
7777 Bonhomme Avenue, Suite 1300
St. Louis, Missouri 63105