Thursday, I sent a letter to Speaker of the House Steven Tilley thanking him for his opening day speech and his call that we "lead by example." I asked him to use his position to help Missouri's Capitol building take an important step toward truly leading by example. This is the year to make our Capitol a 100 percent smoke-free workplace.
The dangers of exposure to secondhand smoke are well-documented, as are Missouri's appalling statistics in terms of high smoking rate for adults and youth, dollars spent on tobacco-related illness and failure to spend state funds on comprehensive tobacco use prevention efforts that have proven effective in other states. Implementing a smoke-free policy in the seat of state government is a small, but important, first step and one that could save someone's life.
It is also crucial if we want to stop the hypocrisy of telling Missouri's children not to smoke, and then inviting tens of thousands of them to tour the Capitol Building each year — a building that reeks of tobacco smoke. No other state building allows smoking, and elected officials should accept their responsibility to have a policy that sets a good example for Missouri's children and to follow the same rules that we ask other state workers to follow.
Jeanette Mott Oxford is the state representative for District 59. She lives in St. Louis.