American Cancer Society makes $10,000 in-kind contribution to smoking ban group

Friday, February 4, 2011

The American Cancer Society has made a $10,000 in-kind contribution to the group battling to ban smoking in Cape Girardeau's bars, restaurants and other workplaces, but both parties are staying tight-lipped about what the nonmonetary donation will pay for.

The Citizens for a Smoke-Free Cape filed a campaign disclosure form Jan. 28 reporting the contribution to the Missouri Ethics Commission as required by state law. Any single contribution of more than $5,000 must be reported to the commission within 48 hours of its receipt.

The reporting deadline for quarterly reports for all contributions to campaign committees for the April 5 election is Feb. 24, but this is the first one that required an early filing, said committee spokeswoman Sheri House.

In an e-mailed response, House, who is also employed by the American Cancer Society in Cape Girardeau, said that Smoke-Free Cape will not comment on each contribution and expenditure reported.

"To do so would divert time and energy away from the true focus of the campaign, which is to communicate with Cape voters about the need for strong smoke-free protections from secondhand smoke," she wrote in the e-mail. "We look forward to a spirited campaign based on reputable facts and civil discourse."

House works at the American Cancer Society as community manager of health initiatives, though she said her volunteer work with the committee is separate.

The American Cancer Society, which makes donations to help smoking ban efforts across the country, does not disclose details of campaign contributions, said Bridgett Myers, regional vice president of the division that oversees Cape Girardeau.

It is, however, the policy of the American Cancer Society to support activities that fall in line with its mission of eliminating cancer as a major health problem, Myers said.

"The Citizens for a Smoke-Free Cape and their efforts certainly fall under that criteria," she said, also in an e-mail.

Those who are working to convince Cape Girardeau residents to vote no April 5 said the contribution and the secrecy surrounding it don't surprise them.

"We knew we were the David in this David and Goliath story," said Doc Cain, owner of Port Cape Girardeau and a key member of Stand Up Cape, What's Next? "But I think we knew how that story went."

The contribution is evidence that much of the money funding the smoking ban effort will not come from Cape Girardeau residents, Cain said, and instead will come from outside interests.

"Their money is not coming from our community," Cain said. "I have no doubt that they're going to have a lot of contributions from outside our area."

Cain said his group is still considering whether to form a campaign committee, though he said members are leaning toward it. The deadline for forming a committee is March 6.

The name of the group pushing for a smoking ban in Cape Girardeau didn't change, House said in her e-mail. The Breathe Easy-Cape Girardeau coalition and its volunteers got the issue on the ballot by gathering signatures for the initiative petition. Then, when it became clear it was going to the ballot, a separate group was formed, Citizens for a Smoke-Free Cape. This group registered with the Missouri Ethics Commission as a campaign committee in December.

smoyers@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent address:

106 Farrar Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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