Your Opinion: GOP smokers bully peers

Dear Editor:

During my career as a school teacher I’ve sometimes had to deal with cases of bullying. It’s unfortunate to witness a high-profile example of bullying not in the schoolyard, but in our Capitol.

Unlike nearly every other governmental office building in Missouri, smoking is still allowed in Capitol office spaces. Recognizing the health impact of secondhand smoke on fellow legislators, staff and visitors, the House Minority Caucus adopted a policy for their members’ offices to be smoke-free. In their wake, the House Majority Caucus instead issued a statement that essentially provides the appearance of doing something when actually doing nothing.

They proposed to allow smoking in offices to continue but to encourage smoking legislators to be “conscientious” and “respectful” by posting signs on their doors, using air filtering devices, limiting smoking to hours of 6 p.m. to midnight, and leaving a window open.

Smoke doesn’t stop at posted signs; air filtering devices aren’t effective; smoking hours don’t protect other people in the building during those times; and leaving windows open is wasteful of expensive heating and cooling energy.

I understand there’s only a handful of legislators that adamantly insist on being able to smoke in the Capitol. Because they’re in a position of power, they intimidated all other Republican representatives to not support a smoke-free office policy.

Teachers take great care to teach children not to bully. Why do some of our elected leaders feel it’s all right to bully?

We implore the House Majority Caucus not to set a bad example to the thousands of school children that tour the Capitol every year. Adopt a smoke-free office policy. The children of Missouri are watching and learning from you.

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