Monthly Archives: November 2012

2012-11-22: Camel’s airport smoking booths, aka “Death Boxes,” in Frankfurt, Germany

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The dramatic description of a Lambert-St. Louis International Airport smoking room as a “Death Box” was coined by a British airline passenger during a TV interview while sitting near one in July 1998.

Colin Nichols and infant during July 1998 KSDK Channel 5 report on Lambert Airport’s smoking rooms

Judy M., a long-time Missouri GASP supporter, just sent me photos of similar smoking rooms during a layover by her and her husband, Jim, in Frankfurt International airport, Germany, in early October, 2012, this time bearing the Camel brand logo.

“CAMEL SMOKING ZONE” airport smoking room, Frankfurt, Germany, October 2012

Camel brand airport smoking room in Frankfurt, Germany, October 2012

There are no exhaust vents visible in the photos but even with them, it’s expected that there will be some diffusion of secondhand smoke into adjacent nominally smoke-free parts of the airport, and even if it’s equipped with a door, which appears to be the case here. (See right hand side of smoking room in second photo. where the entrance door, either sliding or regular door, appears to be located.)

Judy accompanied the photos above with these comments:

Jim had a meeting in Dresden, Germany in early October. We had a flight layover in Frankfurt. I have to confess it struck me that it was like looking at people in a zoo when I saw what is pictured in the two attached photos. I asked permission to take them as we’ve had problems with such things at train stations and airports in various places in Europe due to security issues. No problem with photographing that particular view, they said.
    Though the brightness of the light made it difficult to read, I’m sure you can see that this is the “Camel Smoking Zone.” Of course, the words weren’t/aren’t necessary …. because of what I could smell as I walked by.
    In other words, they are NOT 100 percent effective.
    I was also amused by the “Inspiring Creativity since 1913” phrase (seen in the second photo near one corner of the enclosure). I could think of more accurate things to write. I went to Google and entered the phrase to determine if that is a Camel statement or by the makers of the smoking room and found lots of sites where people had taken the same photo–and made various remarks about the statement.

Emulating Judy, I did a quick Google search and turned up the following photo of a Camel smoking room in the same airport:

Camel smoking room in Frankfurt International Airport, August, 2012

It was accompanied by this comment 3 months ago by Tony Hawk:

“Inspiring creativity since 1913” A box full of deadly smoke is true @ Frankfurt International Airport (FRA)

2012-11-20 HealthDay News: Higher levels of SHS outside airport smoking rooms

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Dr. Michael Givel

Dr. Michael S. Givel and I submitted a detailed paper on airport smoking which was subsequently published in the peer-reviewed international journal, Tobacco Control, in March 2004. The paper was titled “Airport smoking rooms don’t work” and reported on nicotine monitor measurements near the entrance to one of the smoking rooms then operating in Lambert St. Louis International Airport.

Dr. Givel’s primary contribution to this paper was a detailed review of previously secret tobacco industry documents which showed their active goal of maintaining smoking in major airports because they were high-profile locations.

Prior to the above paper, there were a number of TV reports focusing on Missouri GASP’s efforts to persuade Lambert Airport to go smoke-free, such as the following KSDK-TV News Channel 5 COVER STORY by reporter Linton Johnson in July 1998, which I dubbed Lambert Airport’s “DEATH BOXES.”

The video featured an interview with two MoGASP supporters, Sr. Luella Dames and Ms. Vivian Dietemann, both of whom suffer from smoking-exacerbated asthma. The image below was captured from the TV report.

Sr. Luella Dames & Vivian Dietemann during a TV interview in 1998. They are holding a MoGASP complaint to the FAA Office of Civil Rights citing the ADA, which requires access to public accommodations for breathing disabled individuals like them.

Missouri GASP conducted several nicotine monitor measurements at Lambert Airport, including a later independent study to confirm earlier results. The recent study reported below for smoking rooms in other airports confirms MoGASP’s published results.

TUESDAY, Nov. 20 (HealthDay News) — Levels of secondhand smoke outside smoking rooms and other designated smoking areas in airports are five times higher than in smoke-free airports, a new U.S. study finds.
         These high levels of secondhand smoke put the health of travelers and airport employees at risk, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers who published their findings Nov. 20 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
         Their study of five large hub U.S. airports also found that air pollution levels inside designated smoking areas — such as ventilated smoking rooms, restaurants and bars — were 23 times higher than air pollution levels in airports that were completely smoke-free.
         The findings “further confirm that ventilated smoking rooms and designated smoking areas are not effective,” Dr. Tim McAfee, director of CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in an agency news release. “Prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas is the only effective way to fully eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.”
         Five of the 29 largest U.S. airports allow smoking in designated areas that are accessible to the public. The airports are: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Washington Dulles International Airport, McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, Denver International Airport and Salt Lake City International Airport.
         In 2011, about 15 percent of all U.S. air travel took place at these five airports, accounting for more than 110 million passenger boardings, the CDC authors noted.
         Smoking is banned on all U.S. domestic and international commercial airline flights, but no federal law requires airports to be smoke-free.
         “Instead of going entirely smoke-free, five airports continue to allow smoking in restaurants, bars or ventilated smoking rooms. However, research shows that separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air and ventilating buildings cannot fully eliminate secondhand smoke exposure,” report co-author Brian King, an epidemiologist with CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, said in the news release.
         “People who spend time in, pass by, clean or work near these rooms are at risk of exposure to secondhand smoke,” King added.
         There is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke, according to a 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s report. The effects of secondhand smoke include heart disease and lung cancer in nonsmoking adults, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), respiratory problems, ear infections and asthma attacks in infants and children.

2012-11-12 P-D: “Foul: Smoking in the park”

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The subject of Monday’s “Foul” in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch “Fair or Foul” editorial feature focused on Clayton’s ordinance making its public parks smoke-free, which became the subject of a lawsuit by cigar smoker Arthur Gallagher, who responded to an ad for a plaintiff by Clayton attorney, Bevis Schock. The previous blog covered the latest twist on this issue.

Fair or Foul: Rally for St. Louis; smoking in the park
November 12, 2012 3:00 pm
By Tony Messenger, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Page Editor

FOUL: For two years, Arthur Gallagher has been trying to overturn a Clayton ordinance that bans smoking in public parks. His silly quest, thankfully, has likely come to an end. The 8th U.S. Court of Appeals last week upheld a lower-court ruling that the right to smoking in a public park is not akin to (as he argued) the right to have consensual sex, or even the right to an abortion. Mr. Gallagher can still smoke, just not in Clayton’s parks, where the rest of us must share in his bad habit. The court protected freedom, just not the version Mr. Gallagher sought. And while the court didn’t address it specifically, we’re guessing the judges would frown on the sex in the park thing, too.

2012-11-08 WSJ: “Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to Outdoor Smoking Ban”

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I’m grateful for this recent article being brought to my attention, together with the actual Gallagher v Clayton appeal ruling 11-8-12. The article reproduced below describes the conclusion of a long-running legal effort by Clayton attorney, Bevis Schock, and the cigar-smoking plaintiff, Arthur Gallagher, he recruited, to overturn Clayton’s ordinance making its parks smokefree. The original verdict by St. Louis-based U.S. District Judge Charles A. Shaw upholding the ordinance was featured in the mogasp blog 2011-12-13 P-D: “Challenge to Clayton outdoor smoking ban rejected.”

It’s good to finally reach closure on this issue, and for the City of Clayton to prevail in its efforts to protect the public health and welfare, both indoors, as well as outdoors in city-controlled parks.

Gallagher and his legal team puff tobacco smoke into Shaw Park for a reporter

Appeals Court Rejects Challenge to Outdoor Smoking Ban
Joe Palazzolo
November 8, 2012
Wall Street Journal – Law Blog

Legal challenges to indoor smoking bans have failed. But prohibitions on smoking in outdoor areas are churning in the courts. Which brings us to Clayton, Mo., a city that borders St. Louis.
         Arthur Gallagher, an avid outdoor smoker, sued Clayton in 2011, claiming a ban on smoking in city parks it had enacted a year earlier was unconstitutional. (Several other cities, including New York, have similar bans.) He asked the federal courts to recognize smoking as a fundamental right and argued that any law restricting tobacco use deserves the utmost scrutiny from judges.
         On Thursday, the St. Louis-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit declined to recognize a right to smoke and held that Clayton had a rational basis to restrict smoking in parks — namely, to preserve and protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.
         Mr. Gallagher had argued that the ordinance unfairly targeted smokers but failed to address other sources of air pollution, such as smoke from barbeques or exhaust from nearby vehicles. He also argued that no member of the public could be harmed by secondhand smoke outdoors, because it dissipates in the air.
         Clayton relied on a number of studies in enacting the law, including a report of the U.S. Surgeon General indicating “there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” the Eighth Circuit noted, in an opinion by Chief Judge William Riley.
         “We need not determine whether outdoor secondhand smoke exposure actually causes harm.          Because the City reasonably could believe this to be true, the Ordinance survives,” Judge Riley wrote.
         Bevis Schock, who represents Mr. Gallagher, disputed whether the city could have reasonably believed that secondhand smoke outdoors causes harm, given the dearth of research on the subject.
         (One of the few studies found that nonsmokers who visited outdoor restaurants and bars where smoking was allowed had elevated levels of tobacco-related chemicals in the body compared with people at a smoke-free control site.)
         “People who smoke are pariahs in polite, sophisticated society, but people in the lower rungs of society smoke all the time,” he said. “There is a class warfare element to this thing that is unattractive, and we’re pushing for liberty.”
         The Eighth Circuit ruling affirmed an earlier decision by U.S. District Judge Charles A. Shaw in St. Louis.
         “We’re very pleased that court has affirmed our ordinance,” said Kevin O’Keefe, a lawyer for the city. “We think it was appropriately and properly drafted and serves important public health and community enrichment purposes.”

2012-11-07 P-D: “Missouri keeps tobacco tax as the lowest in the nation”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Tim O’Neil, wrote the following piece after the narrow defeat of the latest statewide effort to increase Missouri’s lowest-in-the-nation cigarette tax. The current 17 cents per pack tax goes back to a deal struck between former House Speaker Bob Griffin and former Tobacco Institute lobbyist John Britton, as described in an earlier blog.

I received some critical comments about this latest failure from other tobacco control supporters and am grateful for permission to publish the following, which contains some perceptive insights:

“The 2012 Prop B campaign was like 2006 all over again. The TV ads were too little, too late, and there was a gross under-utilization of the volunteers. There were yard signs available, but did you see any on anyone’s lawn? I didn’t see one of them (same as in ’06). Did information go home to parents via the students? I don’t know. I heard Ron Leone on Charlie Brennan’s show on KMOX and I’m sure he hit a home run with that audience. The only one from our side who disputed him was someone from K.C. Today, Ron Leone was back on Brennan’s show and Charlie told him in no uncertain terms that he was sorry Prop B went down, because he really wanted it to pass. Leone blamed our side and said that he offered to negotiate a “reasonable tax,” but no one would even take his call. He made it sound like our side was just too greedy.

So, our side has lost several million dollars (again) and who knows when there will be another opportunity to raise the tobacco excise tax. Until the nonprofits learn to communicate and use the resources they have available, we will continue to suffer these defeats.”

The Post-Dispatch article is reproduced below, followed by the two OpEds:

Missouri keeps tobacco tax as the lowest in the nation
By Tim O’Neil toneil@post-dispatch.com314-340-8132
November 07, 2012 – 10:30PM ET

Proposition – B – Approve Tobacco Tax – Ballot Issue

No     1,357,437    51%
Yes    1,314,856    49%

Missouri voters produced another razor-thin division on raising tobacco taxes, but strongly endorsed a Republican referendum on Obamacare and refused to change judicial appointments.
         With complete but unofficial statewide results, the tobacco-tax issue, called Proposition B, was defeated narrowly. It was the third attempt in 11 years to increase state taxes on cigarettes and other tobacco products.
         Missouri’s cigarette tax of 17 cents per pack is the nation’s lowest. The proposition would boost the rate to 90 cents per pack, still below the national average of $1.49.
         “I’m a smoker and I think we’re already paying more than our share,” said Karen Watson, 58, of Lake Saint Louis.
         Ron Leone of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, the opposition group, credited a narrow victory “to our ability to communicate with voters through our convenience-store education program.” The American Cancer Society had promoted the tax increase.
         Similar efforts to raise it failed by narrow margins — 49 percent in favor in 2002 and 48 percent in 2006.
         Campaigns for and against Proposition B replayed the previous efforts. The Cancer Society says raising the tax will encourage smokers to quit and generate money for education and health programs.
         Opposition came from the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.
         Its vigorous advertising campaign avoided mentioning cigarettes, stressing instead that the tax would create a slush fund for Jefferson City politicians.
         The vote showed Missouri’s traditional urban-country split. St. Louis and St. Louis County strongly supported it, as did Kansas City and Boone County, home to the University of Missouri-Columbia. Rural counties thrashed it.

The following two OpEds, con and pro the ballot initiative, were published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 16, 2012:

Ron Leone

You can be pro-education and vote no on Prop B
         By Ronald J. Leone

Proposition B’s outrageous and unfair 760 percent tax increase, the largest tax increase in Missouri’s history, is not about education or health care. It’s about greedy special interest groups, responsible tax policies, the proper size and scope of government and politicians wasting even more of your tax dollars.
         Misleading statistics. Tobacco and health care statistics are irrelevant to the Prop B debate since not one single dime of Prop B is required to be spent on actually treating tobacco-related diseases. Not one single dime. Shouldn’t a “sin tax” be used to cure the “sin”?
         Education money will be diverted — again. The state’s budget is a shell game, and there is no “lock box” guarantee that Prop B will actually increase education funding. Remember the broken education funding promises that came with the Lottery and casinos? Don’t be fooled again.
         Everyone will pay the $67 million-plus tab. Prop B increases government spending by hundreds of millions of dollars per year, could be used to expand welfare and fund “Obamacare,” and a leading economist predicts a decrease in tobacco sales alone will decrease state and local sales and other tax revenues by at least $67 million per year. The middle class will pay this tab forever — just like always.
         Slush fund for greedy political insiders. Prop B sets up a panel of nine unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats who control hundreds of millions of tax dollars. Prop B even allows these insiders to pay their friends and pocket this tax money.
         Low taxes are a good thing. Low taxes on gasoline, alcohol and tobacco encourage cross-border sales from our higher-taxed border states, including Illinois, which drives economic development, creates jobs and generates much-needed local and state tax revenue. Increasing any tax when unemployment is high, housing prices are low and no one can afford to retire is a terrible idea.
         Billions wasted. Since 2000, Missouri has spent $3.4 billion in tobacco settlement payments and taxes. Why trust politicians with even more tax dollars?
         Opposed by Right to Life, Farm Bureau and others. Prop B is opposed by Missouri Right to Life, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Family Network, Gov. Jay Nixon, Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence and many others.
         High tax rates. Using the tax rates in Columbia as an example, a consumer pays a 46 percent tax rate on a $3 pack of cigarettes ($1.39), 37 percent on a $4 pack ($1.47) and 31 percent on a $5 pack ($1.54). Taxes include 17 cents state tobacco tax, $1.01 federal tobacco tax and local and state sales taxes.
         Only an out-of-touch politician or special interest group would dare argue that these tax rates are too low and should be massively increased.
         Bad public policy. A statewide problem requires a statewide, broad-based solution. All Missourians benefit from core government services such as public education and thus all Missourians should pay a fair share and have “skin-in-the-game.”
         Attempting to fund education by the majority taxing a minority population such as smokers is bad public policy that lacks serious leadership, reeks of political desperation and in truth, given the ever-decreasing funding source, does not generate nearly enough revenue to adequately fund education.
         It would be like taxing railroad companies to pay for prisons or taxing hospitals to pay for roads and bridges. It just doesn’t make any sense.
         Are you next? If you let the tax-and-spend fanatics put an outrageous 760 percent tax increase on smokers, then don’t be surprised when they tax something you do care about — guns, big sodas, gasoline, fast food or alcohol. At least now you can’t say you weren’t warned.
         This is your kitchen table moment. You know when you’re home watching the news or reading the newspaper and you think, “Government is bigger and more out-of-control than ever” and “Politicians are only concerned about getting elected and not about solving problems”?
         Well, this is your chance to do something about it.
         All Missourians, smokers and nonsmokers alike, can agree that while education deserves to be adequately funded and tobacco deserves to be fairly taxed, Prop B’s outrageous and unfair 760 percent tax increase is simply too big and too dangerous.
         Enough is enough. Please vote no on Prop B.

Ronald J. Leone is the executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association located in Jefferson City.

Amy Blouin

Invest in education for a strong Missouri economy
         By Amy Blouin

When it comes to making sure our state has the resources needed to prepare people for good jobs and preserve a strong middle class, Missouri is relying on a system that’s built to fail.
         That has to change if we’re going to see real economic recovery and sustained growth in our communities. A good place to start is for Missouri voters to approve Proposition B on the Nov. 6 ballot. Prop B calls for increasing the tax on a pack of cigarettes to 90 cents from the current 17, and increased taxes on other tobacco products. Today, Missouri has the lowest tobacco tax in the country; under Prop B it still would be well below the national average of $1.46.
         Prop B will generate $283 million annually in new revenue for Missouri schools and to fund smoking prevention and quit-assistance programs. Safeguards in Prop B, including an annual audit, ensure that the money goes exactly where it is supposed to go.
Generating new revenue sources is critical for Missouri. Today’s global economy requires a highly skilled and educated workforce, but over the past decade, state support for education has diminished. The “foundation formula” that allocates state education support to K-12 schools is $336 million below what the law requires, resulting in 8 of 10 school districts cutting classroom teachers. That’s not good for learning.
         And in higher education, the decline in state support has caused the average tuition at Missouri’s public four-year institutions to nearly double over the past decade, to $7,033 a year from $3,597. Missouri now ranks 44th in the nation for the amount of state funding provided to higher education.
         This is bad news for Missouri’s ability to provide workers with the skills they need and to attract businesses. As the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said, “Economic development, more than anything, depends on a talented workforce. And developing that workforce begins in our classrooms.”
         The worst recession in our lifetime devastated state revenues; on top of that, Missouri’s tax system is outdated. Without sufficient revenue, we have had multiyear cuts to essential services such as education. Missouri’s state general revenue spending, as a percent of the economy, is lower than it was in 1981. There are over a million more people living in Missouri today than 31 years ago; clearly we are failing to keep up with the need.
         And at the current pace it will take way too long to catch up. State revenue when adjusted for inflation isn’t on course to reach its pre-recession level of purchasing power until 2029. In other words, a child born today will be finishing high school before Missouri is able to support education at the level state law requires.
         Fortunately, by passing Prop B, Missouri will take a big step toward supporting education at the level we need. Half of the new cigarette tax revenue will go to K-12 schools to help prevent cutting classroom teachers and increasing class size; 30 percent will go to Missouri’s colleges and universities to help stem the rising cost of tuition and reduce student loan debt.
Missouri’s economic future is worth the investment.

Amy Blouin is executive director of the Missouri Budget Project, a nonprofit, objective, public policy analysis organization that provides independent research on complex state policy issues and how they impact all Missourians.

2012-10-30 P-D: “Councilman gave month’s pay to help fund smoking ban lawsuit”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Mark Schlinkmann, posted a follow-up article on-line recently with some additional details concerning the recent unsuccessful effort to get two smoking-related initiatives on the St. Charles County November ballot. MoGASP is still seeking donations to help defray the costs of this lawsuit, and is grateful for the generous help received to date from both County Councilman Joe Cronin, former Ballwin Alderman Charles Gatton, and others.

Councilman gave month’s pay to help fund smoking ban lawsuit
October 30, 2012 4:46 pm • By Mark Schlinkmann 636-255-7233

Councilman Joe Cronin

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • County Councilman Joe Cronin backed up his push for a public vote on a smoking ban with more than just rhetoric.

Cronin confirmed Tuesday that he donated a month’s net council salary ($666 and change) to help pay for the lawsuit that tried unsuccessfully to return the council’s smoking ban package to next week’s ballot.

Cronin gave the donation to the Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution, also known as MoGASP, which funded the lawsuit filed by Don Young of St. Charles.

Cronin, a Republican from St. Paul, was the sponsor of the two-proposition package that the council had scheduled for a public vote but was removed by the county elections director.

“You can bet I’ll be looking at it again next year,” Cronin said, referring to the smoking ban issue.

Cronin said he also had offered a month’s salary earlier this year to the American Cancer Society for a possible initiative petition drive to put a strong smoking ban on the ballot but that organization decided against such a move.

The council on Aug. 27 voted to put on the ballot two smoking questions. One would have proposed a ban on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces across the county with no exceptions.

The other was on exempting places restricting customers and employees to people 21 and older, covering bars and the Ameristar Casino. Other exemptions also were included.

Martin Pion of Ferguson, who runs MoGASP out of his home on a volunteer basis, said the group provided a $2,500 retainer for the law firm handling Young’s suit and owes about $5,000 more.

The elections director, Rich Chrismer, had concluded that the smoking propositions contained confusing and inconsistent wording.

A judge refused to order Chrismer to put the measures on the ballot, saying the council failed to follow proper procedures.