O'Fallon Councilman Taking on Anti-Smoking Groups

Categories: Smoking Bans
UPDATED at 3:15 p.m. to include comment from the American Cancer Society
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Tomorrow, residents of the St. Charles County city of O'Fallon will vote on a sweeping smoking ban -- one that's far tougher than those recently enacted in St. Louis City or St. Louis County.

But one O'Fallon city councilman is crying foul over the effort. He tells Daily RFT that he's strongly considering file a complaint with the IRS over both the American Cancer Society and Tobacco Free St. Louis, charging that the groups should lose their nonprofit status over their donations to Citizens for a Smoke-Free O'Fallon.

He also vows to use whatever methods he can to stall or block the new law if it passes. "I will become the biggest pain in the ass these people have ever seen," he promises.

The IRS holds that any 501(c)3 non-profit organization may devote only an "insubstantial" amount of its resources to lobbying efforts -- with a 20 percent limit for small groups and a sliding scale for larger ones.

As we reported last month, Tobacco Free St. Louis recently received a $545,000 contract with St. Louis County, paid for by federal stimulus funds, to (among other things) lobby for a tougher smoking ban in the county.

And Jim Pepper, a councilman in O'Fallon who opposes the ban proposed in his city, says both Tobacco Free St. Louis and the local chapter of the American Cancer Society have been active in the O'Fallon campaign. (They donated $250 and $500 respectively, according to board of elections records, to a campaign that had raised $8,275 as of March 28.)

He believes they've crossed the line.

"I've been a big supporter of theirs," he says of the cancer society, whose St. Louis chapter made the donation. "But when they start contributing to a political group, that gets my attention. I believe that violates their 501(c)3 status."

Pat Lindsey of Tobacco-Free St. Louis didn't call us back by press time. We did speak with Stacy Reliford, field government relations director for the American Cancer Society. She assures us that the organization tracks its lobbying expenditures closely -- and that the O'Fallon expenditure was within the limits. "As you know, we're a large organization, not a tiny non-profit," she says. "We're within 100 percent of our legal limits."

She adds, "Frankly, if we weren't involved, it would be a disservice to our constituency. Working for ballot measures like this one is an important piece of what we do."

Pepper, for his part, agrees that smoking can be deadly -- but he seriously questions the idea of second-hand smoke causing similar problems. And he believes the O'Fallon ban goes much too far.

"I wouldn't call it strict -- I would call it draconian," he says. "There are no exemptions." That means all VFWs, elks clubs, American Legion halls and other private organizations would have to ban smoking completely, even if their only employees are volunteers.

Interestingly, Citizens for a Smoke-Free O'Fallon has been funded almost entirely by non-profit groups, with BJC Healthcare donating $2,500 and Partners for Progress, a subsidiary of the Economic Development Council of St. Charles County, donating $5,000, in addition to the American Cancer Society and Tobacco-Free St. Louis contributions. (The only other contribution was $25 from Wendy Prakop, the group's treasurer.)

Pepper believes the new law will probably be approved, but he says that the fun is just beginning.

"If you want to see fireworks, watch O'Fallon if this thing passes," he warns. "I will propose an amendment at every meeting. And I will vote not to fund any police activity related to this. There are a lot of things we can do to mitigate the damages it will do to businesses in O'Fallon."


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21 comments
Michael J. McFadden
Michael J. McFadden

So.... No comments on the blackmail tactics used by the Antismokers in pushing these bans? Or is blackmail suddenly acceptable when it's for a "good cause"?

- MJM

Sharon Martinez
Sharon Martinez

I hope hundreds - NAY thousands more will follow suit!

Did you know that, according to public records, Pfizer the maker of Chantix, and Johnson & Johnson (nicorette, nicoderm, etc.)- through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, are MAJOR, and quite possibly THE MAJOR, contributors to ALL of the anti-smoking groups?-- Makes you wonder what THEIR interest would be?? Possibly more than philanthropic motives -- but WHY NOT - they can't lobby for smoking bans (conflict of interest)-- so why not HEAVILY fund the TAX FREE "health" groups that can?

Do you know that a recent study found a gene they believe is responsible, for some people not being able to break the addiction of smoking - no matter what they try!!-- This study I found particularly disturbing, given the fact that these people are "BROW BEATEN" daily from the press, and "well meaning" citizens,- Claiming CONSTANTLY That their habit is killing them AND everyone close to them. In MANY cases they have been confined to their homes, because they can't smoke ANYWHERE in public! Some of these people have become So GUILTY FEELING, and SO DESPERATE to quit, that they even decide to try Chantix - a drug SHOWN to be the cause of MANY deaths!-- According to the FDA "adverse effects database",in ONLY 6 YEARS - Chantix has WELL OVER 10,000 adverse effects reported. Many of these reports are deaths, with MANY MANY more hospitalizations, including permanent irreversible damages!!-- With all the lawsuits against Pfizer, over these deaths,-- I wonder if anyone has ever considered including the Anti-Smoking organizations, for their contributions??? If you will check, you will find that these are NOT JUST independent "Non Profit" health organizations anymore, but a VERY POLITICALLY POWERFUL, united front, WITH EXTREMELY deep pockets!!!

marbee
marbee

I was under the assumption that bribery was illegal! Bribery: “The offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting of something of value for the purpose of influencing the action of an official in the discharge of his or her public or legal duties.”These grants and "donations" are just that and they are meant to steal the rights of American citizens of their personal and private property rights. Isn't it time that our elected officials from the city level to the federal level be indicted for bribery and thrown in prison along with the grant makers?

One of the 5 main things the Constitution guarantees is that this nation protect property rights (from smoking bans) and earnings (taken for tobacco control), yet this uneducated government would take away the rights of tobacco companies and privately owned businesses. The smoking ban is an attack! A U.S. Supreme Court judge once said "It's not the right OF property which is protected, but the right TO property, sacred from arbitrary interference.” It seems that tobacco control believes that they are in charge of the Constitution these days. We The People did NOT give tobacco control this power, and it's time to take it away from them!

marbee
marbee

That's exactly how all the smoking bans have been enacted in every state, county, and city across America! We The People do NOT want our property rights trampled, loss of freedom in our own homes and cars, and on beaches and parks. As for the ACS saving lives, anyone who has every read anything at all about "alternative" cancer cures knows that those cures actually work, and that's why long ago legislation on behalf of pharma and the ACS made those cures illegal to promote! They even went so far as to propagate the myth that apple seeds are poisonous (proven cancer cure), when once "an apple a day keeps the doctor away". There was a reason people used to eat the seeds like candy, until pharma and the ACS made sure no one wanted to. No cure will ever be found by pharma, it would put them out of business. Their drugs make sure sick people will keep coming back for more until they're either broke, or dead.

They should not only lose their tax exempt status, they should be SHUT DOWN!

Anono2
Anono2

The ACS. The best lobby group that money can buy!

InvestigateNonProfits
InvestigateNonProfits

Pepper is bold for taking on Goliath, funded by big pHARMa. Tobacco Control is a BIG income generator for many groups. Johnson & Johnson has the market cornered on over-the-counter nicotine REPLACEMENT (Nicorette, Nicoderm, Nicotrol). Their "non" profit, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, owns MILLIONS of shares worth BILLIONS of JnJ stock. RWJF gives "grant" money to others to lobby for laws from which they profit. For example, Tobacco-Free Kids was CREATED and FUNDED by RWJF ($84 mil just to start). TFK pushes for smoking bans and increased taxes on cigarettes...which results in more people buying J&J's nicotine REPLACEMENT. Stanton Glantz, UCSF, got $1,077,000 to create his "tobaccoscam" website to spread the lies that smoking bans don't hurt businesses. Ask Ohio, Michigan, etc. BAR OWNERS if the ban hasn't hurt their businesses!!! These people know how to manipulate data. Glantz' schoold got a $10 million grant from RWJF for the Tobacco Cessation Leadership Center, headed by the FORMER RWJF CEO, Robert Schroeder. Tobacco Control is incestuous! Pepper should look at the ACS' 990 forms on-line. According to their latest 990 filed, the ACS gave $11.6 MILLION in "grants" to OTHERS to lobby for them then they boldly proclaim $0 spent lobbying to keep their tax exempt status. How can you say you don't lobby when you pay others to do it for you? It IS the same. This same 990 form shows the ACS made $9,000,000 from QUITLINES. That's right, QUITLINES. An article I read yesterday said 16 States AGs said in 1996 that the ACS got $1,000,000 per year for the use of their LOGO on Nicorette and Nicoderm and that J&J's McNeil Company paid $2.5 million to the American Lung Association for their logo. Don't know if that's still going on but you all get my drift. The ACS does NOT go against the hand that feeds them (the ACS, AHA and ALA split $99,000,000 in grants from RWJF). A consumer group found that Johnson & Johnson's Baby Magic Lotion and Baby Shampoo contain carcinogens. A J&J spokesperson said the carcinogens were at "safe levels". Really? According to the ACS' promos, there's NO SAFE LEVEL of exposure to SHS yet smathering carcinogens directly into a newborn's skin is at a safe level? Have you even heard the ACS warn anyone about these products? NO, because they'd lose their gravy train.

Someone DOES need to investigate these groups. Heck, even the FDA's Tobacco Advisory Panel are grant sponges of RWJF. RWJF pays 8 "fellows" annually (up to $165,000 each) then places them with Congressional Committees and influential Congress members.

Look at obesity and see who's behind all that. RWJF has given over half a BILLION in "grants" for obesity. Who pushes for taxing pop with sugar (sound familiar?). Ask yourselves who owns SPLENDA. Who's company FUNDED a study that said insurance companies and Medicare (or Medicaid) should pay for weight reduction surgery? J&J's Ethicon Endo that OWNS all three of the surgeries!

Anyone see a pattern here? Where is CONGRESS in investigating this sham? Oh..that's right, they're busy accepting FREE fellows.

Bill Hannegan
Bill Hannegan

The ACS is wasting the money of trusting donors. Smoking bans have very little effect on public health overall and actually increase the smoke exposure of poor children in the home and cars.

Michael J. McFadden
Michael J. McFadden

Nelle, if you have any specific substantive criticisms of anything in that booklet, please feel free to expose them here. I spent a lot of time documenting everything in there and I believe it presents a VERY convincing case as to why these bans should not be voted for. If you find anything wrong in it simply point it out so others can see it too.

Thank you.

- MJM

Nellehoney
Nellehoney

Our legislature is owned by the tobacco lobby - that is why the state capitol building allows smoking when Jefferson City has gone smoke-free. All of our citizens cannot go into the building due to allergic reactions to the smoke. How sad.

Funny how you all have tried to distract us from the real truth. Tobacco kills - not the American Cancer Society.

Michael J. McFadden
Michael J. McFadden

NelleHoney wrote, "Sounds like Pepper is in bed with the tobacco lobby." which illustrates exactly why the kind of courage Councilman Pepper is showing is so rare. In other cities and towns across the country the antismoking lobby has used its money to destroy people like him.

In PA and other states newspaper and TV ad campaigns showed pictures of ban opponents with Surgeon General style warnings about smoke harming children pasted below their images.

In New London the Mayor woke up to find a full page ad in the town paper asking if he would stand for “all workers and the public” or “big tobacco and its allies.”

In Ohio legislators were told, "You don’t want to deal with this in an election year, you are not going to make people happy, we won’t make it easy for you... do you want to be on the side of RJ Reynolds... or do you want to be on the side of the American Cancer Society (and) hospitals in an election year?"

In Cleveland the City Zoo planned to fight a ban until it received a threat that an important part of its funding would be removed if it didn't cooperate.

Thirty years ago Big Tobacco was the bad-boy bully on the block, but today that prize goes to the antismoking advocates and their NicoGummyPatchyProduct friends. Councliman Pepper's skepticism about the "deadly threat" of wisps of smoke is well founded. Go to

http://kuneman.smokersclub.com...

and read "The Lies Behind The Smoking Bans" there. It's short and one-sided, but its facts are accurate and their presentation is honest. And if you truly care about the meaning of your vote, you'll give it at least a few minutes of your time.

Michael J. McFaddenAuthor of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Anono2
Anono2

RWJF is the "philanthropic arm" of Johnson and Johnson, who fund all the Tobacco Free Groups, and the Cancer Society, for lobbying purposes. J&J sell Nicoderm, Nicorette, Nicotrol, Nicoderm CQ, and COmmit Lozenges. The Cancer Society is sitting on over a billion dollars in their interest earning savings account. And they call themselves a "charity"! Not a dime to a poor sick person, but lots of fundraisers and pamphlets! They get sick people's names from doctors and then call the families and ask for donations! It is appalling! I will never ever donate again to any group or person outside my community. And never again to anyone who says they are with a charity that pays the CEO over a million dollars per year!

Anono2
Anono2

21 people from 9 states signed a complaint against the Cancer Society and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their illegal lobbying and rent seeking legislation tactics. So far, we have had no answer from our Legislators. Have they been bought off too?

Nellehoney
Nellehoney

Sounds like Pepper is in bed with the tobacco lobby........He might want to consider if smoke-free workplaces passes, he may be out of a job next election. People voting for smoke-free won't like what he is doing. Maybe he hasn't thought of that.

Bob Johnson
Bob Johnson

Johnson and Johnson, owning Pfizer, the makers of Chantix and Nicoderm, fund the bans through their Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

http://www.encyclopedia.com/do...

Many charities have now become tax exempt political action committees, receiving millions to lobby for smoking bans from the RWJ Foundation. These bans are nothing but clever marketing strategy, with lots of highly publicized "sky is falling" hype.

Tobacco control funding sources for "social change" to handle the "tobacco problem"

http://www.rwjf.org/pr/product...

Here are their tax exempt Political Action Committees. (PACs)

http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/CI...

Now they are being given grants to enforce their bans, admitting that bans don't help business.

http://www.rwjf.org/applicatio...

The bans and taxes are a resounding success, for Pfizer.

http://www.emoneydaily.com/pfi...

Tonypalazzolo
Tonypalazzolo

My new favorite politician. I think its about time that somebody took a look at these groups. They take public money and use it to push a political agenda. The ACS has spent over $160,000 in Cape and Springfield pushing those bans.

Alijane
Alijane

Quit lines are farmed out for millions of dollars to non profit religious groups like the Jewish Community Foundation. What training and education to do these groups get? No one knows, the money is "didcated" and once dedicated no one ever goes back to check up on their activities.

When taxes are raised on tobacco, the money again is dedicated to non profit, non government entities. They commence riding the gravy train of never ending streams of revenue. None of the tax increases goes to basic public services mandated in states constritutions. It is dedicated vote buying by legislators who in turn slash schools, public health care (versus health nagging) public safety and transportation.

It is past time to slam on the brakes of the gravy train. These anti tobacco special intrest are well funded privately, but rather than spending their cash, they stuff into endowment funds and feed at the public trough. They do not care if schools are closing, or senior citizens are kicked out in the cold. They do not care if prisions are released early and present a risk to the public. They have their dedicated revenue, screw you.

If they want to tell the public to stop using a legal product, then let them, but on their dime not the publics!

Anono2
Anono2

Then why, Nellehoney sweetie, aren't they lobbying to ban TOBACCO? No, the Cancer Society does not kill. But they DO NOT provide charity to any sick or poor person. What they do is sell nicotine replacement for their grantor. They WANT you using nicotine. THEIR nicotine. Follow the money, Honey. And HOORAY for Pepper for telling the truth about this! The ACS is being paid to lie about second hand smoke and about business losses. And they are doing exactly what they are being paid to do!

Bill Hannegan
Bill Hannegan

Great reporting Sarah! Please keep looking into this!

I wish we had Councilman Pepper in the City.

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