2011/03/11 Mo Lawyers: “MoGASP speaks out against smoking lawsuit”

MoGASP speaks out against smoking lawsuit
By Anna Vitale
Mar 11, 2011 11:54 am
Lawsuit, U.S. District Court in St. Louis

A state anti-smoking organization has spoken out against a federal lawsuit filed March 3 over Clayton’s outdoor smoking ban.

“We’re trying to suggest that this is a frivolous lawsuit,” said Martin Pion, president of Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution, or MoGASP.

Arthur Gallagher, represented by St. Louis attorney Bevis Schock, is the named plaintiff in the potential class action. Gallagher is a smoker who also likes to visit parks. The city of Clayton penalizes outdoor smoking in its parks with penalties of up to $1,000 and 90 days in jail. Gallagher asserts that violates the due process and equal protection clauses under the 14th Amendment, among other allegations.

Pion, who is not a lawyer, said MoGASP was not planning to try and intervene in the case. He said his group doesn’t have the means to do so.

Gallagher argues there is no health risk from outdoor smoking, but Pion said that’s not true for everyone.

“If you are very smoke-sensitive, I’ve been told it doesn’t take much to bring about an asthma attack, and an asthma attack can be fatal,” Pion said. “Even a single exposure can be fatal.”

One response to “2011/03/11 Mo Lawyers: “MoGASP speaks out against smoking lawsuit”

  1. Doesn’t what Dr. Michael Siegel has written about the NYC Central Park smoking ban also apply to the Clayton park smoking ban?:

    “In a place like Central Park, it is not difficult for nonsmokers to avoid smokers because it is so big. The duration of any unavoidable exposure is so small that it is not an issue of public health, but simply of comfort. And for that, I don’t see government intrusion as being necessary.

    The problem with these broad outdoor smoking bans is that they go beyond the issue of health protection. They go beyond the need to protect nonsmokers from significant exposure to secondhand smoke and instead, what they are protecting the public against is having to see smokers.

    This demonstrates, once again, how the public health practice of tobacco control has shifted from a battle against cigarette smoke to a battle against cigarette smokers.”


    mogasp response: I understand Dr. Siegel’s point – that it’s unlikely that a small dose is going to cause an attack in the case of an asthmatic, or significantly affect the health of a healthy nonsmoker. However, where there is evidently disagreement is when Dr. Siegel suggests it doesn’t even rise to the level of a public nuisance: it certainly does for me and I’m sure the same is true for those who are even more smoke-sensitive.
    If cities can prohibit public littering on the grounds that it’s a public nuisance then they can certainly prohibit public smoking on the same grounds, and they should.

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