Ald. Krewson’s St. Louis City smoke-free air bill? Adjournment not action by Ald. Carter’s committee

At City Hall, surprise move sidelines smoking ban bill once again
09.29.2009 1:59 pm
By Jake Wagman
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — After a twenty-minute grilling from colleague Stephen Conway, Alderman Lyda Krewson was poised for a long hearing today in defense of her bill to ban indoor smoking in the city.

Instead, she got an early — and unexpected — exit.

Once Conway had finished his cross-examination of Krewson — a meandering question-and-question session that segued from patio smoking to the economic impact of a ban — Alderman Charles Quincy Troupe suggested the Health Committee adjourn so it can take a better look at the potential fiscal consequences.

A surprised Conway seconded the motion. It passed the Health Committee 7-2.

Just like that, Krewson’s optimism about the bill’s chance of passing out of committee today went up in, well, smoke.

“I assume they wanted to kill the bill or stall the bill,” Krewson said after the truncated meeting.

That’s not the case, Health Committee chairman Greg Carter said. Though Troupe’s motion to adjourn came with a proviso to examine how city finances could be affected, Carter allowed that it will give some north St. Louis alderman more time to talk to bar owners in their wards about the proposal.

Krewson’s proposal has cut a middle-ground that has irked both sides of the smoking debate.

Groups such as Smoke Free St. Louis say the plan — which would only go into effect if St. Louis County passes a ban of its own — lacks teeth. Conway says a provision allowing smoking on patios provides preferential treatment to bars in the Central West End — Krewson’s ward — which have more outdoor seating than, say, taverns in Bevo or Carondelet.

Even so, Krewson thought she had a good chance to pass the bill today — so much so that she already had a tally of which votes she thought were on her side.

“You know,” Krewson said, “I’m an accountant.”

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