ATTORNEY GENERAL Skip Humphrey's ship sailed into port yesterday when the tobacco face-off began on the seventh floor of St. Paul's Federal District Court building. Since the trial is likely to be lengthy, attorneys and spectators can anticipate that presiding Ramsey County Judge Kenneth Fitzpatrick will generously scatter breaks throughout the day. And that, no doubt, should help the nicotine-dependent on both sides to regulate their intake.
There remain, however, a few logistics to consider. For one, will smokers have enough time to hoof it out to the east side of the building to light up? How will the two camps--government vs. private-industry puffers--divvy up the three ashtrays along the Kellogg Boulevard side of the building? But the most intriguing aspect: If statistics about the general population extend to the AG's office, what will government-employed smokers do? Will they light up in plain view, or dash to their cars, glancing in the rear-view mirrors with each drag? Humphrey's office says it has never tallied the number of smokers, but several staffers maintain that the office is well below the national stats. They concede, however, it could be that the AG's office harbors a secret cabal of closet smokers. For those figures, adds one source, check with the tobacco attorneys.