Aug. 25, 2009: Official version of Public Forum & Final passage of St. Louis County Smoke-free Air Bill #228

I previously described the St. Louis County Council meeting on Tuesday evening, August 25, which culminated in the vote to finally pass Councilwoman Barbara Fraser’s smoke-free air bill.

What I’ve pasted below is the entire excerpt for that evening dealing with this bill, taken from the official County Journal kindly provided by Ms. Jeanette Hook, Deputy County Clerk, St. Louis County, Missouri.

Councilwoman Fraser had an alternate version of her bill ready for possible presentation which would have dropped the exemption for small bars, but that was dependent on securing the approval of one of her supporters, Councilman Steve Stenger. When that didn’t materialize she introduced Bill #228 exempting small bars, casino gaming floors, and Lambert Airport’s smoking rooms, together with several other exemptions which were important but less controversial.

JOURNAL OF THE COUNTY COUNCIL
ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MISSOURI

Tuesday August 25, 2009 6:00 P.M.

The County Council of St. Louis County, Missouri, met on Tuesday, August 25, 2009, at 6:00 P.M., in the St. Louis County Council Chamber, pursuant to adjournment with Chair Erby presiding.
On roll call, the following Council Members were present:
Hazel M. Erby
Kathleen Kelly Burkett
Colleen M. Wasinger
Michael E. O’Mara
Barbara Fraser
Steven V. Stenger
Gregory F. Quinn

A quorum being present, Chair Erby declared the County Council in session for the transaction of Business.
Also present were the Honorable Charlie A. Dooley, County Executive, Robert H. Grant, Deputy County Counselor, and Genevieve M. Frank, Administrative Director.

PUBLIC FORUM

Chair Erby called upon those persons who had signed cards to speak at the Public Forum.

The following individuals addressed the County Council and stated their opinions and concerns regarding Bill No. 228, 2009, pending on the Final Passage Order of Business:

Mr. Martin Pion, 6 Manor Ln., Ferguson, MO, President of Missouri GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution), stated he is conflicted on this bill and further stated that Missouri GASP’s goal is to provide 100 percent protection to everyone, questioned how the Council Members, in good conscience, can omit some individuals from this bill and say their lives aren’t worth protecting, and stated his opinion that the bill must protect the health and welfare of all workers and all patrons through a 100 percent smoke-free policy;

Dr. Delbert Escher, Jr., 400 Arbor Lake Ct., Ballwin, MO, stated his support for a smoking ban in St. Louis County and urged the Council Members to think about their children when they are voting on this legislation;

Mr. David Kuneman, 1015 O’Day Avenue, Rock Hill, MO, Director of Resources for The Citizens’ Freedom Alliance, discussed electronic cigarettes and their inclusion in this legislation and stated his opposition to this legislation;

Dr. John Patrick Stein, 12612 Town & Country Estates, Town & Country, MO, a member of the St. Louis Academy of Family Physicians, the St. Louis Medical Metropolitan Society, the National Lipid Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the National Academy of Family Practice, stated his assurance that all of these organizations believe it to be vital that tobacco abuse as a controllable risk factor for health be eliminated, discussed the health factors related to smoking and second-hand smoke and stated support for this legislation to reduce the risk of tobacco in public places and urged the Council to allow the public to vote for safer air;

Mr. Harry Belli had signed a “Speakers Card” but did not address the Council at this time;

Mr. Bill Hannegan, 5399 Lindell Blvd, representing Keep St. Louis Free, submitted information related to a report prepared for St. Louis City concerning “the probable predicted economic effect of a smoking ban imposed at once on both St. Louis City and St. Louis County”, noted the predictions included in this report that predicted a loss of revenue and a decline in employment due to a smoking ban in restaurants and bars in these areas, and warned the Council about putting a smoking ban on bars on the ballot in this regard;

Mr. Joe Toenjes, 329 Rose Lane, Kirkwood, MO, 63122, representing Choose St. Louis – Informed Health Choice Proposal, thanked Council Members Burkett, Erby, and O’Mara for “voting right” and not voting for this bill, stated his concern for the business owners and what they must do to fight this legislation and urged County Executive Dooley to do the right thing and veto this legislation;

Dr. Walton (Walt) Sumner, 7 Old Westbury Ln., Webster Groves, MO, President of the St. Louis Academy of Family Physicians and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine, reminded the Council that the problem with smoke is the small particles contained in the smoke, stated his belief that electronic cigarettes are fine, further stated he advocates for electronic cigarettes, urged the Council to submit this matter to the voters and stated support for this legislation;

The Honorable Fred Meyland-Smith, Alderman for the City of Town & Country, 1032 Woodfield Estates Dr., Town & Country, 63017, and The Honorable Phil Behnen, Alderman for the City of Town & Country, 322 Sunway La., Town & Country, 63141, stated their support for the smoking ban proposal, expressed their appreciation for the Council’s pursuit of this proposal, encouraged the Council to proceed with the initiative to limit smoking in enclosed places, further stated they would “urge a uniform prohibition against smoking in all enclosed places” but do support the legislation the Council is presently considering;

The Honorable Lynn Wright, Alderman for the City of Town & Country, White Stable La., 63017, had planned to address the Council but was delayed in her travel to the Council Meeting and was not present at this time;

Ms. Sharon Hall, 6320 Northwood, shared information concerning her mother’s serious health condition, the physical and emotional cost to her mother due to her loss of mobility and ability to care for herself, the great medical costs involved in this regard, and urged the Council to consider the rights of taxpayers as well who are oftentimes burdened with paying for the medical care of citizens critically ill from smoke related illnesses;

Mr. Norman Farber, 13531 Cedar Bridge, owner of BFC Enterprises, a vending machine business that services many small restaurants and bars, stated his opinion regarding the Council Members’ respective interest in this legislation and encouraged the Council Members to “turn down” this legislation;

The Honorable Harold Dielmann, Mayor of the City of Creve Coeur, 300 N. New Ballas, Creve Coeur, MO, 63141, representing the City of Creve Coeur, stated that, “we totally endorse the bill as it is”, further stated we have to start some place and it may not be a perfect bill but it will get things going;

Ms. Julie Stone, 269 Habecking Dr., St. Louis, MO, representing the St. Louis County Libertarian Party, stated they are still protesting against this bill, that is unfair and will cause an undue burden on businesses as far as what decisions they have to make economically to try and remain viable, suggested letting the businesses post whether they are smoking or non-smoking so the citizens can make an informed choice before they even enter an establishment and urged the Council Members to vote “No” on this bill;

Mr. Marty Ginsburg, 2033 Whitman Court, Chesterfield, MO, and 13431 Olive St. Rd., Chesterfield, MO, owner of The Sports Page Bar and Grill, stated his opposition to any exemptions being included in this legislation, questioned who is going to fund the added enforcement requirements for a smoking ban in St. Louis County, further questioned why representatives of Town & Country and Creve Coeur present this evening have not introduced a smoking ban in their respective municipalities if they support smoking bans, he believes this legislation is discriminatory and urged County Executive Dooley to veto this bill;

Jeff Gershman, Attorney at Law, 7733 Forsyth, Clayton, MO, 63105, representing the Independent Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association of Greater St. Louis, stated disagreement with probable passage of this legislation this evening but did applaud the Council for giving this matter their attention, further stated it is their belief that this legislation “is bad for St. Louis County. It’s going to have devastating effects on the hospitality industry, particularly the bars, bowling alleys, billiard parlors”. He stated the problem with this bill is that it represents a single point of view and does not represent a diversity of views and, for that reason, it is bad not only for the County but also the community, further stated it is not a compromise bill and is not a consensus bill and is not a bill that most people will support, related his opinion that this bill will clearly pit the County against the City and favors the large out-of-state casinos who can continue to operate without restrictions, pointed out that new casinos are exempt, new drinking establishments are not exempt, casinos can be sold and keep their exemptions, and raised a question about drinking establishments in this regard, suggested that there is an opportunity to incentivise bars to put in air filtration systems and clean the air instead of just moving the second-hand smoke to other places, stated support for this bill being referred to committee to study its economic impact, to develop strong air filtration standards and to find out exactly how many drinking establishments really sell more than 75 percent alcohol and urged County Executive Dooley to veto this bill; and

Mr. Matthew Brown, 4975 Potomac 2E, St. Louis, MO, 63139, a resident of St. Louis City, stated support for a clean indoor air ordinance and related that the City is waiting for the County to show leadership on this issue, further stated his belief that legislation in this regard should include clean indoor air protection for all employees but noted that it is really great to start protecting some employees, indicated that he would prefer that a decision concerning a clean indoor air ordinance be decided by elected representatives who have much more time and energy to put into researching this matter thoroughly, and questioned putting this issue to a vote of the people.

There being no other persons who wished to speak at the Public Forum, Chair Erby ordered the Public Forum closed and the Council to proceed with the next item on the Order of Business.
……

FINAL PASSAGE OF BILLS

BILL NO. 228, 2009, INTRODUCED BY COUNCILWOMAN FRASER, ENTITLED:

AN ORDINANCE

CALLING AND PROVIDING FOR THE HOLDING OF AN ELECTION IN ST. LOUIS COUNTY ON THE THIRD DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2009, FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING TO THE QUALIFIED VOTERS OF SAID COUNTY A PROPOSITION TO PROHIBIT SMOKING IN ENCLOSED PUBLIC PLACES.

MOVED BY COUNCILWOMAN FRASER, SECONDED BY COUNCILMAN QUINN, FOR FINAL PASSAGE OF BILL NO. 228, 2009. UPON ROLL CALL, THE VOTE WAS AS FOLLOWS:

YEAS: WASINGER, FRASER, STENGER, QUINN
NAYS: ERBY, BURKETT, O’MARA
ABSENT: NONE

CHAIR ERBY DECLARED BILL NO. 228, 2009, FINALLY PASSED.

At the time of the Roll Call vote Councilman Burkett restated her reasons for not supporting this legislation and pointed out that she had voted “No” four years ago “when we had this same battle”. She stated that she does not see “a smoking ban in St. Louis County working unless it can be statewide”. Councilman Burkett questioned proposing a smoking ban with exemptions. She further stated her concern regarding how this ban with exemptions will affect business owners in St. Louis County, stating she believes the business owners would experience losses in revenue. Councilman Burkett noted that she hopes the voters in St. Louis County understand that this is not a 100 percent smoking ban.

Councilman Wasinger noted that this is a controversial issue and she expressed her appreciation to those individuals who had taken the time during the past few weeks to address the Council concerning this matter. She stated her motive was to give the voters an opportunity to decide if they want to have clean air in the majority of St. Louis County. Councilman Wasinger stated that this is not a perfect bill but it does give the majority of places in St. Louis County the opportunity to be smoke free, noting that she believes it is worthy of being presented to the voters.

Councilwoman Fraser reiterated her reasons for sponsoring this legislation, noting that the objective of this legislation and her number one priority is to protect the health and safety of St. Louis County residents. She restated information concerning second-hand smoke and the danger it poses to human health. Councilwoman Fraser stated, after many discussions with municipal leaders, business leaders and constituents, she is convinced “that this is also an important issue to St. Louis County voters”. She noted that passage of this legislation would give the voters of St. Louis County an opportunity to make a decision on this matter. Councilwoman Fraser discussed the exemptions included in this legislation, noting that, “nothing would get passed unless we make some compromises”. She questioned how many individuals have been affected by second-hand smoke during the past five years following the last time the Council reviewed this issue.

Councilman Quinn referred to discussions concerning the exemptions included in this legislation, stating he believes the exemptions cover five (5) percent of the buildings in St. Louis County. He stated work places, factories, restaurants, most bars, excluding the exempted bars, would be smoke free. Councilman Quinn stated he thinks, “This bill is going to be a significant advance”. He stated it is good to allow the voters to decide this issue, noting that there are arguments on both sides of this issue and the Council has heard these expressed quite well during the past few weeks.

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