Monthly Archives: January 2012

2012-01-27 P-D: “St. Louis County Council open to changing exemptions to smoking ban”

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Friday’s story in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch by reporter, Margaret Gillerman, a follow-up to her story the previous day, suggests that St. Louis County Council Chairman, Mike O’Mara, might be open to removing some of the exemptions from the present county smoke-free air ordinance.

That would be a good thing, as well as a significant change in Councilman O’Mara’s prior position opposing smoke-free air legislation. The article notes that both he and County Executive Charlie Dooley still favor a statewide law. As I’ve stated many times before, based on past bitter experience, we are walking into a lion’s den if we pursue that strategy, since the tobacco lobby and their sympathizers are in control in Jefferson City. We are making major progress at the local level: let’s continue to focus on that, as this latest effort does.

I would be really impressed if Councilman O’Mara and a majority of his colleagues were willing to remove the exemption allowing smoking on the gaming floor of casinos!

Tobacco-Free St. Louis Coalition deserves congratulations for generating a lot of coverage for this story, which was also featured on KPLR-TV Channel 11:

http://www.kplr11.com/videogallery/67661703/News/anti-smoking-group-calls-for-tougher-ban

Below is the story by reporter Margaret Gillerman:

St. Louis County Council open to changing exemptions to smoking ban

BY MARGARET GILLERMAN • mgillerman@post-dispatch.com > 314-725-6758 | Posted: Friday, January 27, 2012 12:05 am | Comments (39 as of January 27, 2012, 6:46 pm)

CLAYTON • St. Louis County Council Chairman Mike O’Mara said Thursday that the county’s year-old smoking ban ordinance “needs to be tweaked” and that he’s open to suggestions for eliminating exemptions to the ban.
          “A year has gone by, and there are still small neighborhood businesses being hurt by it — and we need to sit down come up with something better,” O’Mara said. “It’s not an even playing field for all small businesses. Part of the solution is eliminating some exemptions.”
          O’Mara, D-Florissant, made his comments in response to a call Thursday morning by community leaders working with the Tobacco-Free St. Louis Coalition to eliminate exemptions.
          The organization also released a study showing that North County has a disproportionately high incidence of heart attacks and lung diseases, putting residents at more risk from smoking. North County also has the most exemptions to the county ban — 56 of the 145, the group noted.
          Its analysis also shows the fewest exemptions, 20, for Mid County, where some municipalities have adopted stricter ordinances that supersede the countywide ban.
          Pat Lindsey, executive director of Tobacco-Free St. Louis, said the group intended to go to the County Council soon to ask it to remove the exemptions.
          O’Mara said that before changes are made, businesses with and without exemptions and the public needed to be consulted.
          “This (the Clean Indoor Air Act) was voted on by residents of St. Louis County,” he said.
          The ordinance was passed by a two-thirds majority in 2009 and took effect Jan. 2, 2011. Establishments are eligible for exemptions if food sales total less than 25 percent of the annual total sales of food and beverage.
          O’Mara, who had voted against putting the issue on the ballot, said Thursday he preferred a statewide smoking ban to truly level the playing field.
          County Executive Charlie A. Dooley has steadfastly supported a statewide ban.
          As for changing the current ban, “that’s pretty much in the hands of the County Council,” said Dooley spokesman Mac Scott.
At the Tobacco-Free news conference, Dr. Stuart Slavin, a board member of the organization, said its study           showed “the rate of exemptions is higher in the districts where health disparities are highest — making a bad health situation worse,”
          Slavin, an associate dean of the medical school at St. Louis University, said, “We’re failing those who need it most.”
          Dr. Rance Thomas, president of North County Churches Uniting for Racial Harmony and Justice, also spoke.
          “Where people are most vulnerable in our community is where they are most likely to be exposed to secondhand smoke and poisonous air,” Thomas said.
          Bill Hannegan, who has fought smoking bans and heads Keep St. Louis Free, said he was not surprised by Tobacco-Free’s effort because its “Obama stimulus money runs out” soon.
          Tobacco-Free, based at St. Louis University, is the recipient of about $545,000 of a $7.6 million federal stimulus grant that St. Louis County received and distributed. The grant is expected to run out in June, a Tobacco-Free spokesman said Thursday.

2012-01-27 STL Beacon: “Areas with most smoking-related illness have most exemptions to smoking ban”

My thanks to Pat Lindsey, director of Tobacco-Free St. Louis, for suggesting I take a closer look at this good article in the on-line Beacon describing yesterday’s press event at which Dr. Slavin was a key speaker.

One can conclude from the article that it doesn’t necessarily reduce smoking but that smoke-free air extended to bars would certainly protect employees from exposure to secondhand smoke, while also ensuring a smoke-free public venue.

Areas with most smoking-related illness have most exemptions to smoking ban
By Robert Joiner, Beacon health reporter
Posted 10:23 am Fri., 1.27.12

Many establishments that are exempted from St. Louis County’s public-smoking ban are in areas with the highest incidences of smoking-related illnesses, according to an analysis by Tobacco-Free St. Louis. It also argues that the exemptions could undo the health benefits of the Clean Air Act and that they are unfair to the majority of county establishments that have banned smoking.
         According to an analysis by Tobacco-Free St. Louis, 56 of the exempted establishments are in north county. Another 41 are in south county, 29 are in west county and the remaining 20 are in the mid-county region, including the smoke-free communities of Clayton, Brentwood and Kirkwood.

Dr. Stuart Slavin shown on November 4th wearing a YES on Prop N lapel pin during a victory party the day after passage of Proposition N by a 2:1 margin. This ushered in sweeping smoke-free air laws on January 2, 2011, in both St. Louis City and County.
Photo: Martin Pion

Dr. Stuart Slavin, a member of Tobacco-Free St. Louis, stressed that the group isn’t arguing that illnesses related to smoking would vanish without the exemptions.
         “But what’s striking to me is that if you look at illnesses that may be smoking related, whether it is heart attacks or hospitalization for chronic lung diseases, you will find significantly greater risks and rates in north county,” Slavin said.
         He also said that many residents of north county may lack adequate access to health care and “can least afford to suffer from these problems.”
         He added, “We aren’t saying this is the cause of health disparity. But it certainly is one that’s contributing, and it’s easy to fix. It simply requires an act of the County Council, and these exemptions would disappear.”
         No council members were available to comment on the analysis, which shows that the 56 exemptions are in districts represented by Democrats Hazel Erby of University City, Kathleen Kelly of Overland, and Council Chair Michael O’Mara of Florissant. Kelly and O’Mara have raised questions over the years about the ban.
         In any case, Slavin says ending the exemptions would level the playing field by “making all the casinos, bars and restaurants smoke-free so that everybody is playing by the same rules.”
         In addition, he says, the Clean Air Act would do much to protect residents in St. Louis and St. Louis County while the exemptions undermine the benefits.
         “These exemptions allow people who work in these bars and casinos to continue to be exposed to what we know is a dangerous substance: second-hand smoke. We feel that that should not be allowed to continue,” Slavin says.
         Those who support a right to smoke continue to say that bans ignore individual freedom and should be modified to account for filtration and other systems they say can address health issues.

TO GET AN EXEMPTION
The “Indoor Clean Air Code” allows smoking in drinking establishments with a valid liquor license that have applied for and met the qualifications for exemption.

St. Louis County Ordinance 605.030 defines the term “Drinking Establishment” as follows:

Any business with a valid license issued by the St. Louis County Department of Revenue (pursuant to Chapter 801, Title VIII SLCRO 1974 as amended, “Alcoholic Beverages”) to sell intoxicating liquor by the drink or to sell beer and light wine by the drink whose on-site sales of food for consumption on the premises comprises no more than 25% of gross sales of food and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages on an annual basis.

–St. Louis County Department of Revenue

2012-01-26 P-D: “Group wants St. Louis County to end smoking ban exemptions”

I didn’t spot this in yesterday’s print version of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch so I have to thank Mr. Bill Hannegan for alerting me to it! In his on-line comments following the story Mr. Hannegan posted this:

Bill Hannegan said on: January 26, 2012, 10:52 am

This is a last ditch effort on the part of Tobacco Free St. Louis. Their Obama Stimulus money runs out in March.
“The grant for the project runs out in March 2012.”

Read more: http://tinyurl.com/4c3pwb9

"harleyrider1978"

The story aroused a LOT of reader response on-line. Some were from familiar names, such as “harleyrider1978” who uses a helmeted GI with a cigarette drooping from his lips as his logo. There were the usual arguments that private property rights trump public health, which is nonsense on its face, but that doesn’t stop incessant repetition by opponents of smoke-free air. Here’s the story by Post-Dispatch reporter, Margaret Gillerman.


Group wants St. Louis County to end smoking ban exemptions

BY MARGARET GILLERMAN • mgillerman@post-dispatch.com > 314-725-6758 | Posted: Thursday, January 26, 2012 6:59 am | Comments (141 as of January 27, 2012, 2:10 pm)

Frank Davenport smokes while visiting with friends and watching NFL games at GB Field Old Timers Saloon in Breckenridge Hills on Jan 2, 2011. The establishment is one of many in St. Louis County impacted by the smoking ban, which went into affect in both St. Louis city and county that day. According to manager Debi Sloan the bar has applied to an exemption to the ban. “People come here expecting to smoke and have a drink,” said Davenport, a Vietnam Veteran from Breckenridge Hills. “If you don’t want to smoke, it’s simple, just don’t come in.”
Photo by Sid Hastings

UNIVERSITY CITY • A group of community leaders working with the Tobacco-Free St. Louis Coalition called on the St. Louis County Council to get rid of the 145 exemptions to the smoking ban that they say allow some businesses to benefit at the expense of others.
         A physician with St. Louis University, a representative of a North County church group and a business owner in University City were among those who spoke at a news conference this morning. They said that the smoking ban exemptions endangered the health of patrons and employees. They also presented an analysis showing that the largest number of exemptions are in communities including North County, where the incidence of heart attacks and respiratory diseases is high.
         “The rate of exemptions is higher in the districts where health disparities are highest – making a bad health situation worse,” said Dr. Stuart Slavin, who is a board member of Tobacco-Free St. Louis and associate dean of the medical school St. Louis University. “The Clean Air Act was a positive and necessary first step to creating a less toxic environment for St. Louisans. But we’re failing those who need it most.”
         The news conference was at Three Kings Public House in University City.
         Derek Deaver, owner of Three Kings Public House, said, “To have some establishments playing by one set of rules and others by a different set of rules has created confusion, and an unlevel playing field. The exemptions have to go.”
         Tobacco-Free St. Louis is a grassroots coalition that educates citizens, provides resources, and supports policies to eliminate the use of tobacco.

2012-01-23 P-D: “McClellan: Blowing some smoke in the Show-Me state”

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This title to today’s Bill McClellan column filled me with a certain amount of trepidation, because McClellan has struck me as inclined to support smokers, hanging out with them in local watering holes, as well as having Libertarian leanings. I was thus pleasantly surprised to find myself agreeing with his humorous observations skewering those in the Missouri legislature who are consistently opposed to raising cigarette taxes. Proponents argue, with good reason, that raising cigarette taxes both deters or reduces smoking, especially among young people, while simultaneously raising revenue.

Those who argue that if you raise taxes on cigarettes then net income will remain the same are ignoring the fact that smoking is rather like gasoline: once you’re hooked because of nicotine addiction or using a car to get to work, it’s difficult to break the addiction. Demand remains pretty inelastic in the absence of a large increase in taxes.

Anyway, enjoy McClellan’s piece, which is a hoot. (And possibly check out some of the sour reader comments on-line by clicking on the “Comments” link below.) The only thing I would have changed is the title.

I would have chosen “Blowing smoke in the Smoke-Me state.”

McClellan: Blowing some smoke in the Show-Me state
Bill McClellan • bmcclellan@post-dispatch.com, 314-340-8143 | Posted: Monday, January 23, 2012 12:15 am | Comments (55 as of January 23, 2012, 8:32 pm)

Governor Jay Nixon during his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Missouri legislature on January 17, 2012, in Jefferson City.
P-D photo by Emily Rasinski

Good morning, ladies and gentleman of the Missouri General Assembly. It is my pleasure — and an honor — to introduce Gov. Jay Nixon, who intends to give a second State of the State address. Last week’s address was for public consumption. This morning’s is the real deal. Please give a Show-Me welcome to Gov. Jeremiah “Jay” Nixon!
         (Muted applause. Sen. Jason Crowell makes flatulence sounds into his microphone.)
         “Good morning. Or maybe it’s not so good. Let’s be honest. You can’t count on the weather in this state. This time of year, we might go through three seasons a day, and none of them are summer. Yet we’re supposed to compete with places that are warm and sunny all year?
         “But that’s what we’re trying to do. Our economic development team is working with our marketing team to identify our strengths and build on them.
         “Our number one strength? We have the lowest cigarette tax in the country!”
         (Wild applause. Sen. Crowell makes siren sounds into his microphone.)
         “By the way, the smoking lamp is lit. Smoke ’em if you got ’em!”
         (More applause and siren sounds.)
         “Our economic development team is working to identify companies with CEOs who smoke.          Once those companies are identified, we’ll be contacting the CEOs. We’ll point out that a heavy smoker can save hundreds of dollars a year in our state.
         “Our marketing team is working with our friends in Washington …”
         (Boos, hisses and flatulence sounds.)
         “No, no. Hear me out. Our marketing people are trying to get permission to place a Missouri logo next to the warning labels on packs of cigarettes. Right after ‘Smoking can cause lung cancer and emphysema,’ we’ll have our logo!”
         (Applause, siren sounds.)
         “As part of that same campaign, we’re thinking of dropping the ‘Show Me’ slogan in favor of ‘Cheap Smokes.’ That has a ring, doesn’t it? ‘Missouri, the Cheap Smokes state.’ ”
         (Applause, siren sounds.)
         “Maybe we’ll make the Dirt Cheap Bird our state mascot. I’m sure some of the do-gooders will criticize me, but what part of ‘Cheap, Cheap, Fun, Fun’ don’t they get?”
         (Applause, siren sounds, some chanting, “Cheap, Cheap, Fun, Fun.”)
         “Our tourism people will also be targeting smokers. We’ll soon unveil an entire campaign aimed at getting smokers to vacation in Missouri.
         “In that same vein, we’re going to try to grow our state by getting smokers to move here. But we’ll be looking for a certain kind of smoker — a healthy smoker.
         “That’s because we’re cutting Medicaid again!”
         (Wild applause, siren sounds.)
         “I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of people expecting the taxpayers to provide their health insurance.”
         (Uneasy mumbling, half-hearted flatulence sounds.)
         “Present company excluded, that is!”
(Wild applause, siren sounds.)
         “Speaking of cuts, I’d like to talk about higher education. If you follow higher education in this state, you already know that Mizzou has joined the Southeastern Conference. We’re in the SEC!”
         (Deafening applause, siren sounds. As the applause finally dies down, a few legislators start singing “Dixie.”)
         “I want to be perfectly clear about this. We face some financial challenges, but I have assured Coach Gary Pinkel that the football budget will not be cut. It will be raised! Significantly!”
         (Wild applause, siren sounds.)

[cut]

2012-01-02 Urban Review: “One Year Smoke-Free”

I’ve known Steve Patterson, who lives in St. Louis City and writes a very active blog called Urban Review STL, for well over a decade. In October 1999, he took a League of American Bicyclists Road I on-road course I conducted as a League Cycling Instructor at Florissant Valley Community College in North County. It was held on the campus so that two college bike-mounted security guards could also attend.

Steve Patterson (in yellow jersey and helmet) during a break in a Road I course I conducted at Florissant Valley Community College in October 1999


Steve was a top student, scoring 98% on the Road Test. In St. Louis City, he actively used a bicycle to get around whenever possible as part of his business as a realtor. It was therefore a huge blow to him when he suffered a stroke in his apartment which left him paralyzed for several days. Since then, he’s been making a slow recovery and can now drive a car with modified controls, in conjunction with a wheelchair.

Throughout this period, except when totally incapacitated by his stroke, he has maintained a very active blog on the City of St. Louis and brings a laser focus to bear on issues that need attention. He is also a strong supporter of smoke-free air, which brings me to the reason for this mogasp blog.

On the one-year anniversary of the historic implementation of both St. Louis City and St. Louis County going largely smoke-free on January 2, 2011, Steve conducted an in-depth evaluation of just how well it had succeeded, visiting formerly smoking-permitted bars and restaurants. His report is well worth reading, as are the 74 comments it elicited, which demonstrates just how much interest Steve’s blog generates.

I’ve pasted the link to Steve’s blog below and would urge you to visit it.

One Year Smoke-Free

Milo's announcement that, despite being exempted from St. Louis's smoke-free air ordinance, it will go smoke-free on Feb. 7, 2011

2011-12-31 P-D: “John Britton, lobbyist’s lobbyist, is back to work again”

Reminder: For a comment to be considered it must be accompanied by your full name: first name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters (including spaces), and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

“I have a genuine respect for people who work in public service. It’s not an easy job to do,” said lobbyist John Britton (right), who drops in Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, to visit state Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger to discuss an upcoming insurance bill. Photo by Laurie Skrivan

Lobbyist, 86, puts his thumbprint on laws
Long hours, personal relationships are calling cards for A-B’s longtime go-to guy.

The above was the below-the-fold headline in Sunday’s front page St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. There followed a lengthy story on lobbyist John Britton, who has very effectively represented both tobacco and alcohol interests in the Missouri State Capitol for over 50 years, according to the article. “Britton is a recovering alcoholic (who) quit drinking in 1958,” but is still a chain smoker, having cut down to only three packs a day from five, according to Britton. (So maybe the smoking restrictions in many parts of the State Capitol have actually helped him!).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist, Bill McClellan, wrote an insightful piece about John Britton’s effectiveness in the State Capitol some years ago titled: “Where There’s Smoke, There’s Sir Lobbyist” which was featured in a mogasp blog Columnist Bill McClellan on tobacco lobbyist John Britton, aka “Mayor of Jefferson City

Reporter Virginia Young’s article can be found on-line by clicking on the title below, following which are extensive excerpts from the article and also some of the on-line reader comments.

John Britton, lobbyist’s lobbyist, is back to work again

BY VIRGINIA YOUNG vyoung@post-dispatch.com > 573-635-6178 | Posted: Saturday, December 31, 2011 11:15 am | Comments (17 as of January 2, 2012, 6:10 pm)

John Britton says goodbye to legislative assistant
Cara Stauffer after visiting with state Rep.
Chuck Gatschenberger (left) at the Capitol on
Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011, in Jefferson City.
Photo by Laurie Skrivan

JEFFERSON CITY • John Britton came to the Missouri Capitol to start a lobbying career more than a half-century ago. He has been walking the marble halls ever since, building a reputation as one of the most influential figures in Jefferson City.
Just ask those who have tried for decades to raise beer taxes. Or those who want Missouri to join the 39 states that prohibit open containers of alcoholic beverages in cars. Or those who have fought for years for statewide restrictions on smoking in public places.
All point to Britton, the chain-smoking lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch InBev, as the main reason for their defeats. In one such testament, Michael Boland, a volunteer lobbyist for nearly 20 years for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, was ready to rejoice when contacted for an interview about Britton. Boland hoped Britton was retiring “and we could finally get some legislation passed.”
But Britton, 86, is not retiring.
….. During the legislative session that begins this week, he’ll be back in his usual spot on the Capitol’s third floor, buttonholing legislators who weren’t born when he began manipulating the gears of government.
With his custom suits, an ever-present cigarette dangling from his mouth and the ability to supply a case of beer when a legislator asks, Britton fits the image of a glad-handing, well-heeled lobbyist.
Not only has he long carried the banner for liquor and tobacco interests, he was also the force behind the 1991 law that led to legalized riverboat gambling.
But beyond the caricature, Britton personifies the nuts and bolts of the influence business: He puts in marathon hours, cultivates personal relationships and knows his issues.
His detractors say he is a leading example of the outsize influence lobbyists have. And, they contend, he has played a key role in squashing opportunities to improve public health and safety.
Britton argues that he has defended individual liberties and tried to keep government from overreaching.
“How an individual lives his life is up to that individual, as long as he’s within the boundaries of civilized conduct,” he said. “And there’s nothing sinister in somebody drinking or smoking or bouncing rubber balls against the courthouse walls.

[mogasp comment: None of the above are sinister, so long as it doesn’t put someone else’s health and safety at risk. The line is crossed when you drink and drive, or subject others to your secondhand smoke.]

…. Britton is a recovering alcoholic. He quit drinking in 1958 and still goes to two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings a week.

….. He still lobbies for corporate heavyweights such as Enterprise Holdings Inc. and Express Scripts, as well as nonprofits such as the Missouri Historical Society and the St. Louis Zoo.
His far-flung clients include the movie industry, public television stations, beer wholesalers, life insurance underwriters, electric cooperatives, title companies, and the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Co.
“I don’t think they stick with him because of loyalty,” said lobbyist and former legislator Jewell Patek. “They stick with him because he gets results.”

…. He splits the workload with three associates, including longtime business partner Jennifer Durham. Usually operating behind the scenes, they seek sponsors and friendly committees for bills they support and line up opposition and killer amendments for bills they oppose.

…. He was so tight with the Senate’s leadership in 1995 that after smoking was banned in Capitol corridors, the Senate passed a resolution declaring whatever area Britton inhabited on that side of the building a smoking zone. Senators said it was meant as a joke.

[mogasp comment: This was former Sen. Danny Staples’ resolution, but to my knowledge it was serious, and not intended as a joke.]

…. These days, when he takes legislators out … (h)e likes to host a small band of freshman Democrats, such as Steve Webber of Columbia and Jacob Hummel of St. Louis, at a down-home restaurant in nearby Apache Flats. In addition to saving money, he avoids Jefferson City’s ban on restaurant smoking.

Because of his lobbying reputation, Britton gets credit — or blame — for the Legislature’s perennial shelving of legislation to make public places in Missouri smoke-free.
“He’s been the major reason” that legislators balk at the bills, said Martin Pion, whose group, Missouri GASP, has warned of the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Critics like Pion say Britton’s legacy is a state that has neglected public health. Take the failed 1997 push to increase taxes by about a penny for every 12 ounces of beer to fund prevention and treatment of alcohol abuse.
“A penny a drink was never going to affect the profits of Mr. Britton’s clients, but it would help to prevent drunk driving,” said Boland, the volunteer for MADD.
Britton says he’s proud of keeping Missouri’s excise tax on beer the second-lowest in the nation, as well as abolishing the state’s blue laws and getting rid of the law making public intoxication a crime.

Below are many of the comments posted by readers following publication of the above article by reporter Virginia Young:

Marley said on: January 3, 2012, 3:36 pm
In the name of individual freedoms, Mr. Britton has certainly got his. He is a wealthy man at the expense of both the physical health of the citizens of Missouri and the financial health of the State itself. Missouri’s resources for substance abuse and addiction prevention and treatment have been greatly reduced by his efforts to keep increased excise fees on alcohol and tobacco off the table. He is only a hero of big business and greed, not at all of the people. Furthermore, our Missouri legislators should be ashamed of how they have bowed to the alcohol and tobacco industries. Britton has made fools of them, and he is laughing all the way to the bank.

SPSLE said on: January 2, 2012, 6:10 pm
Mr. Pion, and some of the ignorant, but pius commenters, you can blame John Britton for the failure to pass anti-smoking legislation if you want, but if you check the Missouri Ethics web site, you might discover that he has not represented any tobacco interest for ten years (Virginia, you might have wanted to note that, too). Maybe the problem is the proponents and their approach rather than the opponents.

[mogasp comment: I believe the above is correct, given that I wasn’t contacted for this story, so I didn’t comment on John Britton’s present lobbying activities. But he has certainly been very effective in the past, and the tobacco lobby and its supporters are still a force to be reckoned with in Jefferson City.]

follow the money said on: January 2, 2012, 9:48 am
Who would have known that Missouri has its own Jack Abramoff & Grover Norquist & the most gutless state government that cannot stand up to this agent of corporate America.

Tony Palazzolo said on: January 2, 2012, 8:03 am
Martin Pion isn’t a paid lobbyist unlike a majority of the anti-tobacco crowd.

harleyrider1978 said on: January 2, 2012, 7:49 am
I have never ever run across anyone who closely resembles my own american ideals as that of Mr. Britton.
I must say we were born of the same mold…..I admire the man.

mntvernon said on: January 2, 2012, 2:57 am
CGatton said on: January 1, 2012, 9:11 pm
Anono2, you charge that Martin Pion is paid to lobby for bans. Your source, please? John Britton is clearly paid to lobby against them, claiming that personal freedom trumps damaging other people’s health. I’m sure you’ll claim that the lady in this article from Enid, Oklahoma is also paid to lobby for bans.
Gatton, the proof is right there on Pions website where he clearly states he operates under 501(c)(4) IRS protection and panhandles the public:
https://mogasp.wordpress.com/donate/
for cash via credit card! Prove us wrong, just have Mr. Pion publish MOGASPs IRS form 990 from the past ten years.
The OK woman’s misfortune illustrates how despised your ‘church lady’ types are as they troll the oncology clinics looking find fresh victims of your favorite bogeyman.
The sad fact is that you get peanuts spewing your pap while your morebirthdays handlers get richer:
http://www.charitywatch.org/articles/eyepoppingpay.html

[mogasp comment: mntvernon later retracted his incorrect statement about MoGASP’s IRS status. We are, in fact, a 501(c)(3) and have been since our initial IRS approval in 1986. We’ve never had enough income to have to publish anything!]

Bill Hannegan said on: January 2, 2012, 2:35 am
anono2, I don’t think Martin Pion is paid to lobby for bans. Mr. Pion is a True Believer. Even if MOGASP has gotten Big Pharma grant money at some point ( and I doubt that he has), I am sure that his crusade for smoking bans overall has cost him far, far more than he has gained.

Bigdognaj said on: January 1, 2012, 11:10 pm
This guy needs to fade away for the greater good. This clown might be the single greatest reason Missouri remains in the dark ages. Smoke all you want outside away from me and my family. Die slowly from emphysema, cancer. Die quickly from not wearing a seat belt. Pick your personal freedom poison, hoosiers.

CGatton said on: January 1, 2012, 9:11 pm
Anono2, you charge that Martin Pion is paid to lobby for bans. Your source, please? John Britton is clearly paid to lobby against them, claiming that personal freedom trumps damaging other people’s health. I’m sure you’ll claim that the lady in this article from Enid, Oklahoma is also paid to lobby for bans: http://enidnews.com/localnews/x191085309/Despite-healthy-lifestyle-Elaine-Johns-began-experiencing-health-problems-due-to-second-hand-smoke-exposure

icantthinkofone said on: January 1, 2012, 8:34 pm
Why this is legal, and why this guy isn’t in jail, is beyond me. Yes, I know lobbyists are everywhere and it’s been around for decades but, why this is legal and why this guy isn’t in jail is beyond me.

[mogasp comment: I don’t think that’s the issue. Lobbyists are part of the political system. You and I can lobby for something in which we believe. Money is part of the problem, plus lobbyists working against the public interest.]

workingdude said on: December 31, 2011, 8:51 pm
violates personal freedom??? what about the folks who don’t smoke? bull. he is a prostitute. lobbyist or what-ever. he needs to be run out of every office he steps in. personal liberty? so you can do what-ever you want , when you want, and screw whoever you make mad. yeah, right. he nneds to go as does his ilk.

SPSLE said on: December 31, 2011, 6:14 pm
What Virginia omits in “ex-Army paratrooper” is the minor detail that he was with the 101st Airborne from the time they dropped behind enemy lines on D-Day through their encirclement as Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. For those who blindly despise lobbyists as representing “special interests”, they will never be capable of understanding that Mr. Britton’s primary “client” is personal liberty.

[mogasp comment: I think you’re letting the clouds of tobacco smoke obscure the truth. Mr. Britton does this lobbying because it’s highly profitable, NOT for any patriotic reasons.]

anono2 said on: December 31, 2011, 5:13 pm
First, thank you for your service to our country, John!!!
It is refreshing to see a lobbyist calling himself a lobbyist, so unlike the people who say they are from the supposed “non profit charities” who are doing the VERY same thing but with a WHOLE LOT more money, and the newspaper treats them like saints. BALDERDASH! Missouri seems to be the LAST place we can refer to as the “home of the brave and the land of the free”! And that is thanks to people like John, and the Legislators, who know the difference between lies and the truth. Martin Pion is paid to lobby for bans and he has no interest in EVER going to the bars he is trying to shut down. But he IS pious, that Pion!

[mogasp reply: My effort to promote smoke-free air has nothing whatever to do with piety! It has everything to do with sensitivity to secondhand smoke to which many people, including myself, view simply as an air pollutant, a view supported by science.]

Bill Hannegan said on: December 31, 2011, 12:57 pm
The Missouri House recently voted down a statewide smoking ban 36-97. They did so because smoking bans violate personal freedom, the property rights of business owners and hurt business. It is convenient for Martin Pion to instead blame John Britton.
http://www.unitedformissouri.org/statewide/st-charles-county-council-vote