2011-06-26 P-D Letters: “Political reality”

The following letter I submitted appeared on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Letters to the Editor page on Sunday, June 26. It followed a brief conversation I had with St. Charles County Executive, Steve Ehlmann, after I sent him a letter recently on the subject of comprehensive smoke-free air laws in the metro area, including St. Charles. That related to his recent veto of a St. Charles smoke-free ballot initiative. While I point out the rationale behind legislation with exemptions, which I agree should not occur with a health and welfare issue, his insistence on legislation with no exemptions should motivate him to try and work with other area legislators, like St. Louis County Chairman Steve Stenger, to pass such legislation.

Political reality

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann picked two examples of exemptions for comment in his veto of a proposal to put a smoke-free air bill on the 2012 ballot. He wrote: “If the purpose of the smoking ban is to protect the health of employees, there is no rational reason to exclude casino floor workers. If tobacco smoke is harmful, there is no reason to exempt cigar bars, while regulating bars that allow cigarette smoking.”
         That sounds reasonable, except for political reality.
         For example, in 2009, former St. Louis County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser introduced a comprehensive smoking ban but couldn’t garner the necessary council support without exempting casinos and small bars. Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution and others strongly opposed the exemptions and urged County Executive Charlie Dooley to veto the measure. However, after it passed and went on the November 2009 ballot as Proposition N, we supported it after getting overwhelming positive feedback to do so from our members.
         Proposition N’s overwhelming success resulted in both St. Louis and St. Louis County going largely smoke-free on Jan. 2.
         Since then, St. Louis County Council Chairman Steve Stenger, who originally had insisted on the Harrah’s Casino and small bar exemptions, has gone on record as seeking legislation to remove the existing loopholes.
         If only private homes were exempted when not being used for child care, that would bring our metropolitan area up to the current standard for 100 percent smoke-free air laws. Paraphrasing Mr. Ehlmann, why should we do otherwise?

Martin Pion • St. Louis County
President, MoGASP

Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/mailbag/article_3c5f709a-1030-55e2-8f8b-ffdd6077fc3b.html#ixzz1QMKvMPrp

10 responses to “2011-06-26 P-D Letters: “Political reality”

  1. Horacio Prada

    It’s virtually impossible for smokers to be able to practise their habit without causing harm to others. Smoke is in fact composed of particles -micron size – that once released into the atmosphere float everwhere, stick to surfaces etc, so that anywhere your go, you run into these toxic particles left by the smokers, whether you realize it or not. They just don’t disappear. Being “reasonable” with smokers and granting them the “right to smoke” is foolishness. The best thing smokers can do is to quit and stop contributing to our planetary chemical contamination with their addiction.

    mogasp comment: One could argue that no chemical with toxic properties should be allowed, but when very heavily diluted, no toxic chemical, including secondhand smoke, can be reasonably prohibited. My disagreement with smoking defenders is where to draw the line. I find it reasonable to prohibit smoking outdoors, e.g. in or near public parks. Even outdoors, smoking rises to the level of a nuisance. Or potentially worse for smoke-sensitive asthmatics.

  2. Billl Hannegan

    Would Mr. Prada also favor banning fireplaces in private home?

    mogasp comment: I don’t know how Mr. Prada will respond but I’ll chip in with my own.
    In England in the 1950s where I was living at the time, a severe London smog due mainly to open domestic coal fires caused tens of deaths. The result was a law phasing out open coal fires in homes, to be replaced by smokeless fuel, gas or electric heating.
    I understand the same problem existed in St. Louis.
    The reality today is that most homes locally are not heated by polluting means such as coal or wood. If they were, it would have to be addressed as a health and welfare issue, just as it was back in England.

  3. Mr. Pion, you are very loosely paraphrasing County Executive Ehlmann since he has expressed reservations about smoking bans as too much government interference in private business.

    mogasp reply: I have posted Ehlmann’s three-page veto message on this blog at https://mogasp.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/ehlmanns-veto-letter-june-15-2011.pdf. It appears to be unambiguous to me. I’d like you to rovide the reference from it in context to support your statement.

  4. I run my fireplace in the winter, and i live in St. Louis…as of yet I have not been arrested. Also my carbon monoxide detector near my fireplace does not register even 1 ppm CO while my fireplace is in use, so ventilation must be working.

    mogasp comment: Yes, you’re sending the pollution you generate outdoors.

  5. Horacio Prada said “It’s virtually impossible for smokers to be able to practise their habit without causing harm to others. Smoke is in fact composed of particles -micron size – that once released into the atmosphere float everwhere,”

    While that statement makes for nice propaganda it has little basis in fact. It ignores the first rule of toxicology. “dose makes the poison”. The list of chemicals listed by activist are in most organic material including the food we eat. The same argument could be said for the known carcinogen alcohol. Every breath you take you are exhaling alcohol particles, if this were not the case breathalyzers would not work.Many of the same carcinogens released by tobacco smoke are created by the simple act of cooking yet no one is calling for a public cooking ban for the sake of the workers, thiis is politically motivated plain and simple.

    Marshall P Keith

    mogasp comment: If it were “politically motivated” as you state why aren’t local legislators approving such laws themselves? Instead they often put them to a public vote. Comparing proposed (tongue-in-cheek) cooking bans to smoke-free air laws is laughable.

  6. In 1998 the ACS finally retracted their 53,000 statistic, stating in a press release: “The American Cancer Society will no longer use the statistic because we too have been unable to acquire the documentation to support this citation.” In other words, it was a lie.
Close to 90% of the weight of tobacco smoke is composed of oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and plain water (1989 Report of the Surgeon General p. 80). This mix is usually called “fresh air.” For this we take away property rights?
    Smoking bans are DESIGNED to close pubs, kills two birds with one stone. And it drives the need for the sheeple to purchase big pharma’s products. Ref: http://www.amazon.com/Tobacco-Control-Johnson-Foundation-Anthology/dp/078798745X
    From the well respected Cato Institute: The Second-Hand Smoke Charade http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php… Quote: It now turns out that the influential 1993 EPA report “Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders” was as phony as a three-dollar bill.
    So what explanation can there possibly be for trampling our citizens private property rights? http://www.mskcc.org/mskcc/html/12463.cfm
This prediction tool can assess a long-term smoker’s risk of developing lung cancer in the next 10 years based on the person’s age, sex, smoking history, and asbestos exposure.
    RWJF Anti-Tobacco Grants as of Jan 6, 2010 http://www.smokershistory.com/RWJgrant.html
YOU WON’T EVEN BELIEVE WHAT IS HERE! How can our elected officials fall for this rubbish!

    (Marlene Bakken)

    mogasp note: The above is a combination of three comments you submitted between 10:47 pm and 10:49 pm yesterday, with an an original total character count of 2,632, whereas I’ve advised commenters on numerous occasions that the limit is 1,000 characters. I’ve combined your three comments into one of 1,502 characters while attempting to retain all your main points. Please do not submit anything further to this thread.

  7. mogasp comment:”If it were “politically motivated” as you state why aren’t local legislators approving such laws themselves? Instead they often put them to a public vote. Comparing proposed (tongue-in-cheek) cooking bans to smoke-free air laws is laughable.”

    Actually your statement shows that it is polltically motivated. Cooking fumes have similar relative risks as those associated with with second hand smoke without cheating and using meta-analysis to eliminate 1 in the CI. They also did not have to to reduce the CI to 90% and thereby doubling the margin of error as the activist in the 1992 EPA report did. Again if this is legitimately sound science show us all of the causes of diseases that have been conclusively proven with equally low risks.
    As Mark Twain correctly put it there are Three types of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics.
    http://peoplesrepubmadison.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/bow-before-the-progressive-gods/

    Marshall P Keith

    mogasp comment: When I lived in England the Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain quote above was attributed to Winston Churchill. It makes for a good line but I’m not sure it informs.

  8. I think marbee is a new person, and should be given a chance to keep it under the limit… Unless you have a rule that 3 comments ( originally each under 1000? cannot be counted separately???) OR do you object more to the content of her post than the length??? Heck if you add up all the characters I’ve typed here over the last few months..it’s well over 1502,, yet I’m not banned.

    mogasp reply: marbee is not new but that’s irrelevant. Neither is Michael McFadden but he respects the character limit.
    My point was that marbee submitted three separate comments in the space of a few minutes totaling 2,632 characters and that was clearly ignoring the limit. It has to be a uniform policy to be fair: just like allowing smoking exemptions for some workplaces and not others is unfair.

  9. mogasp comment: “When I lived in England the Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain quote above was attributed to Winston Churchill. It makes for a good line but I’m not sure it informs.”

    Samual Clemens predates Churchill by a significant number of years and that quote came from his autobiography but it probably predates him.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lies,_damned_lies,_and_statistics

    Again I state that it is politically motivated. The activist want smoking banned while ignoring anything of equal or greater risk. They only want that banned which they do not like.
    http://www.onctalk.com/2007/11/27/cooking-oil-fumes-and-lcins/
    Marshall P Keith

  10. The pro smoking gang are a group of “dead men talking” to paraphrase the Sean Penn movie, “Dead Men Walking.”

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