Monthly Archives: October 2009

The Jaco Report on Prop N: 10/31/09 & 11/01/09

Bill Hannegan (KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE!) and Martin Pion (President, Missouri GASP) were interviewed by Charles Jaco, Fox 2 News, on Friday, October 30, 2009, for The Jaco Report, aired on Saturday at 5:33 pm – 5:46 pm, and rebroadcast on Sunday morning between 8 and 9 am.

Following is the program description, taken from Fox 2 News on the web:


Jaco introducing Pion (center) and Hannegan (left)

(KTVI – – On The Jaco Report, putting the smoke out. The debate over indoor smoking bans. On Tuesday, voters in St. Louis County and in Kirkwood vote on some form of indoor smoking ban. Tobacco remains just about the only product that, when used as directed, will kill you. Cities like Chicago and New York have banned indoor public smoking. Illinois has outlawed most indoor public smoking. Missouri has not. Charles reviews the pros and cons of Tuesdays’ vote.

Bill Hannegan has posted the video on his blog KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE! at where you can also read his and other comments on the show from pro-smoking advocates.

Charles Jaco kicked off by addressing Bill Hannegan:

Hannegan name ID

Bill Hannegan, basic question: the people who are against this often frame this in the realm of choice or individual rights, but yet if one goes into an establishment, an indoor space, where somebody’s smoking they’re essentially poisoning people near them. That’s doesn’t seem to be an individual rights issue: it seems to be a pretty clear-cut public health issue, isn’t it?

BH: Actually, we have no problem with people banning smoking in private places, we just would ask that those bans be imposed by the business owner and not by the government. We strongly lobbied the county council, for instance, to impose a compromise measure to keep minors away from smoking, and also install modern technology to reduce the exposure of both patrons and staff to secondhand smoke to an absolute minimum.

CJ: But at the end of the day doesn’t this just come down to money? In other words, business owners stand to lose money because of this, are against this and everybody else is for it.

BH: No, a lot of business owners that have voluntarily banned smoking very much oppose this and a lot of nonsmokers. And we’re counting on nonsmokers to show up and vote against this because they see this as a freedom and a property rights issue.

CJ to Martin Pion:

Jaco Pion IDWhy not have the free choice, where if I am faced with an array of, say, restaurants in downtown Kirkwood, I can say, alright these two ban smoking, these two don’t, therefore I’m going to give my patronage to these two and that way the consumer votes with his feet. Sooner or later the business owner gets the message and they ban smoking.

MP: So what you have to do is put up signs saying restaurants allow flaking asbestos tiles then. You have to put up signs saying this restaurant doesn’t have good food handling (practices) and you may get food poisoning. And this restaurant isn’t going to abide by any other rules that may be out there concerning public safety.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Jaco Report on Prop N", posted with vodpod

SPECIAL EVENTS: Prop-N at Ferguson Farmer’s Market, 10/31/09


Martin Pion promoting Prop-N at Ferguson Farmer's Market

It was a sunny but crisp day at the Ferguson Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, October 31, 2009, with the thermometer reading 41 degrees when I set off just after 9:30 am without breakfast or a shave. That’s early for me, especially given that I got to bed at around 2 am.

This was the last occasion the market would be open this season and business was brisk. The overwhelming majority of those I approached were supportive of Prop-N to make most indoor private workplaces in St. Louis County smoke-free (and if it passes, that automatically means St. Louis City is expected to follow suit too).

One young lady referred to “private property rights” as her reason for opposing it. Another gentleman and former Ferguson councilman I know well said he was leaning towards support but also was concerned about the “private business” issue, being a private businessman himself operating a small heating and cooling company. It’s strange how secondhand smoke gets a pass but so many other risks to health that are regulated do not, presumably because unrestricted smoking has been an unrestricted part of society for so long.

I ended up distributing all the lapel pins and Prop-N cards I had, plus half a dozen yard signs, and also gathered contact information for 9 people in favor of this initiative. A better result than I was expecting. I hope that portends well for the vote on November 3rd!

Pro Prop-N flyer: “Asbestos, or non-asbestos section?”

Please find below a flyer prepared in support of Prop-N which I urge you to circulate to everyone you know who might need encouragement to vote for this measure. Actually, secondhand smoke is more prevalent and consequently far more hazardous to health than flaking asbestos in places where we work or go to eat.

To obtain a full page pdf copy of the flyer below please send a request to


P-D 10/30/09: “St. Louis County smoking ban campaign energizes in last weekend”

This is the latest review of where the two campaigns, pro-smoking and pro-smokefree air, stand just days before the Prop N vote on November 3. The pro-smoking crowd has evidently poured more money in just recently and it’s now a much more even contest from the financial standpoint. Getting good information out to supporters to energize them to get to the polls will be critical.

Not mentioned below is that Missouri GASP is also formally endorsing Prop N.

10.30.2009 6:33 pm
St. Louis County smoking ban campaign energizes in last weekend
By Margaret Gillerman

With the election four days away, energized supporters and opponents of the Proposition N smoking ban have stepped up their campaigns and picked up more money – with the anti-ban committee thus far outraising supporters but the pro-ban committee picking up endorsements.

And their tactics differ – with supporters relying on electronics, operating a get-out-the-vote telephone and email campaigns , and opponents counting on radio and newspaper advertisements. Both are using rallies to try to attract attention.

Proposition N would ban smoking in most indoor public places. Siginificant exemptions include casino gaming floors, smoking lounges at Lambert Field and small bars.

Opponents of the smoking ban debuted a new radio ad today on KMOX, says Tom Sullivan, spokesperson for the Citizens Against Proposition N. Ads against the ban will continue through Tuesday on KEZK and KSIV.

The ads by Citizens against Proposition N so far have been paid for by Discount Smoke Shops and activist Bill Hannegan. Their latest contributions are $16,533 from the tobacco shop chain and $3,000 from Hannegan. The committee includes mainly businesses selling tobacco and owners of small bars and restaurants that now allow smoking.

Charles Gatton, chair of the County Citizens for Cleaner Air, said today that he expected that ExpressScripts to make a significant contribution to supporters of a ban. So far, the largest contribution to that committee has been $10,000 from BJC Healthcare.

With money in its pockets, the anti-ban group sent out a 240,000-piece mailing to voters this week and took out full-color ¾ page ads in all four Call newspapers, covering a large part of South County, Sullivan said. Another ad appeared in the St. Louis American.

In the anti-ban commercial on KMOX, restaurateur Harry Belli laments that he lost his Ballwin business, Harry’s West, and 40 employees lost their jobs after the smoking ban was enacted in that city.

“Proposition N would cause the same thing to happen all over the county,” Belli says on the ad. “Take it from me. Proposition N will cost St. Louis County thousands of jobs and millions of tax dollars just when we need them the most.”

The issue remains contentious in Ballwin. Some other businesses, such as Bones French Quarter Cafe, are now making money.

Gatton, a former Ballwin alderman, said, “The fact is, the restaurant business is still healthy in Ballwin. Over the years since the ordinance took effect, it appears to have dropped about 4 percent, in line with the gradual downward trend the city had been experiencing before.

“Meanwhile, Manchester, a neighboring city without a clean air ordinance, dropped eight percent during the same time period. Several restaurants have opened in Ballwin since the Clean Air Ordinance took effect – Candicci’s, Senor Pique, Lone Wolf Coffee Company, and Break an Egg, just to name a few. “

The other anti-ban radio ad, narrated by Rev. Harold Hendrick, airs on a Christian radio station on the Bott Radio Network. Hendrick, an opponent of casinos and gambling, says in his ad that the ban “just is not fair…(and) would hurt small businesses while favoring casinos.” Under the proposed ban, casino gaming floors are exempted from the ban.

The Greater St. Louis Bowling Proprietors Association and Carolyn Haupt, owner of Hazelwood Bowl, will host a voter rally at 11 a.m. Saturday at Hazelwood Bowl. Speakers include Fred Teutenberg, formerly of Dirt Cheap stores and now owner of Fred’s Cheapo Depot, State Senate candidate Jack Jackson, and State Representative candidate Keith Schildroth.

Gatton, the head of the committee in favor of Proposition N, said that supporters of the smoking ban would conduct a telephone campaign urging people to vote Yes on N but planned no commercials or ads. Supporters of a ban also are sending emails to their friends and colleagues on the importance of healthy clean air and the dangers of second-hand smoke and asking them to vote yes to the ban. A rally was held by doctors and medical students Thursday to support the proposed county ban.

Gatton said that people recognize the smoking ban is for the public health and “is good for the citizens, for workers, businesses and families.” The ban, he said, would “improve the health and well-being of our region for our children and their children.”

More than 250 students, professors, doctors and staff attended the rally Thursday organized by St. Louis University Medical Students for a Smoke-Free St. Louis. If the county ban passes, a ban already approved by St. Louis Aldermen will go into effect.

In addition to the endorsement of BJC Heathcare, Gatton said that some of Proposition N ’s endorsements are the St. Louis County Municipal League, the Asthma Consortium , the Asthma & Allergy Foundation and The March of Dimes.

Urban Review STL says “Vote Yes on Prop N”

I just learned of the post below on Urban Review STL, an influential blog dealing with St. Louis City issues, written by Steve Patterson, whom I’m pleased to know personally. He is writing in support of Prop N from the same vantage point as Missouri GASP: that it has loopholes which shouldn’t exist but it’s still strong enough to vote for it.

Vote Yes on Prop N
Author: Steve Patterson October 30th, 2009

This Tuesday voters in St. Louis County will determine how soon much of the Missouri side of the region goes smoke-free. Well, mostly smoke-free.

If passed, Prop N would prohibit smoking in enclosed public spaces, including bars, restaurants, concert venues and indoor and outdoor sports facilities. It would also ban smoking on sidewalks and other outdoor spaces within 15 feet of an entrance to a public building.

The ordinance would exempt casino gaming floors; cigar and tobacco stores; hotel and long-term care rooms that have been designated for smokers; designated smoking areas of Lambert St. Louis International Airport; and bars that receive 25 percent or less of their gross sales from food. (Source: West End Word)

I think many on both sides of the issue can agree the county and the city’s bill have too many exemptions and the wider a smoke-free policy is the less disadvantage any business may be. That is where agreement ends.

Despite the flaws I hope that voters in St. Louis County support Prop N so our region takes another step closer to being totally smoke-free in establishments open to the public. The pro-smoking groups will tell you the smoking rate in St. Louis is higher than in other parts of the country. That is about all I’ll believe from them. The fact is many places want to go smoke free but are afraid to do so on their own. They need the law to make it so competing restaurants in their immediate vicinity are also smoke-free.

Secondhand smoke is a public health threat, just like unsanitary restaurant kitchens or unsafe stores.
For workers who spend their days and nights in smoke-filled bars and restaurants, the danger is magnified.

They include many young people working at their first jobs. Often, those workers aren’t offered health insurance and aren’t in an economic position to quit.

People shouldn’t be forced to risk their health just to earn a living. (Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial)

I agree, this is about the health of our community. To me this is an important step in the right direction.

– Steve Patterson

P-D 10/28/09: “Few voters may decide fate of St. Louis County smoking ban”

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch ran an in-depth front page story today which continued inside on page A8. The sidebar on page A8 was particularly useful for the summary of what the various smoke-free air laws actually do or don’t do, comparing St. Louis County and City with Clayton’s recently-approved ordinance and with the Kirkwood initiative petition, being voted on on November 3rd, the same day as St. Louis County’s Prop N. Here are those details, followed by the story itself.

A closer look at the area’s proposed smoking bans

Clayton enacted a smoking ban on July 14. Voters in Kirkwood and St. Louis County will vote Tuesday on separate smoking bans. And last week, the city of St. Louis hitched a smoking ban to the outcome of the county vote.
Here’s a look at what is common and different among the proposals.


All would prohibit smoking in enclosed places of employment and enclosed public places, with exceptions. All exempt private residences as long as they do not contain child or adult day-care facilities, and all allow smoking in 20 percent of the rooms in hotels and motels. (The county bill also exempts the smoking lounges at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.)


Casino gaming floors: The county proposal allows smoking there. The city’s ban also exempts them until the state, St. Charles and St. Louis and St. Charles counties remove exemptions. If exemptions were established for Metro East casinos, the city’s exemption would continue. (Illinois went smoke-free on Jan. 1, 2008.)

Bars: Kirkwood’s proposal bans smoking. Clayton has no bars; bar areas in Clayton restaurants would be smoke-free. The county plan exempts bars that derive 25 percent or less of their income from food or other nonliquor items. The city’s bill would exempt for five years bars that only admit people at least 21 years old and have no more than 2,000 square feet, excluding kitchens, storage areas and bathrooms.

Private clubs (mainly veterans and fraternal organizations): All proposals exempt them. The city and Kirkwood proposals note that they must have no paid workers. (The Kirkwood plan stipulates that the club had to exist on March 1, 2009, to be exempt.) The Clayton and county exemptions make no reference to employees.

Tobacco stores: Cannot be a part of a larger store. Kirkwood requires that 80 percent of sales be from tobacco products; Clayton, 70 percent; and the county, 60 percent. Clayton and the county exempt cigar bars, an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages and earns at least 25 percent of its income from the sale of cigars and/or rental of humidor space.


Clayton’s ban is in effect for new businesses and will start for existing businesses on July 1. The Kirkwood ban would start on Jan. 2; the city and county bills would take effect on Jan. 2, 2011.

Few voters may decide fate of St. Louis County smoking ban
By Phil Sutin and Margaret Gillerman

A quarter of St. Louis County’s voters — maybe 175,000 — could be deciding on Tuesday whether the city and county, with a combined population of 1.35 million, go smoke-free.

The city last week made its smoking ban contingent on the county enacting a ban. And with turnout Tuesday expected to be 25 percent of the county’s 705,000 registered voters, a lot will be riding on a relatively few voters.

Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia and some smaller suburbs, including Ballwin, Clayton and Arnold here, already have bans, but Tuesday’s vote will affect more Missourians than all of the other bans combined.

Proposition N would prohibit smoking countywide, with a significant exception for casinos, and take effect on Jan. 2, 2011. Kirkwood is also voting Tuesday on a similar ban, called Proposition I. It would take effect Jan. 2.

Joe Donahue, Democratic director of elections for the county, put the turnout estimate at 25 percent, but acknowledged he was being optimistic.

“I like to be optimistic,” he said.

County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, D-University City, was the sponsor of the council ordinance that produced Prop N.

She said it “would protect the health of my fellow county citizens.”

“Studies show that smoking bans save a half-million lives a year nationally — half the population of St. Louis County,” she said Monday at a forum of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce. “There is no safe level of secondhand smoke.”

(MOGASP: The number of deaths attributed to secondhand smoke annually in the U.S. is roughly 50,000 and not 500,000, as suggested above.)

Bill Hannegan, a prominent opponent of smoking bans, countered at the forum that the county proposal was “social engineering applied to all residents.”

St. Louis and St. Louis County officials supporting bans “are on a power trip,” he said. “What’s next — obesity, sugar, sodas?”


Prop N is of particular concern for owners of restaurants, bars and bowling alleys at the edges of St. Louis County — areas a short drive from Franklin, Jefferson and St. Charles counties. In those counties, only one community, Arnold in Jefferson County, has a ban.

Proprietors of the county’s 21 bowling centers, which employ about 600 employees, say they are worried.

Gary Voss is owner of the West County Lanes bowling alley on Manchester Road near Clarkson Road in Ellisville. A ban would cause at least a short-term loss of business, which he said “would be deadly in our case.”

In 2006, Ballwin enacted its ban, and the Bones French Quarter Bar and Grill, 14766 Manchester Road, slumped for six months, a co-owner said.

Brian Armstrong, whose family has owned the restaurant for 49 years, said it lost much of its lunch crowd, diners who wanted to relax with a smoke and a beer.

The restaurant strongly opposed the Ballwin ban, but it now has adapted. Its decor has been changed and new staff was hired to appeal to younger customers who would come for dinner, Armstrong said.

The restaurant expanded its patio, where customers could smoke, and added heaters there.

“This year business is up,” Armstrong said.

Marty Ginsburg, owner the Sports Page Bar & Grill in Chesterfield, said property and business owners should determine smoking policy in their establishments.

“I’m the one assuming all the risk, paying the taxes and insurance,” he said.


The local chapters of the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and American Lung Association — ardent opponents of smoking — have stayed neutral on the county ban.

They consider it too weak.

Stacy Henry Reliford, regional government relations director of the cancer society here, said the county proposal “does not deliver smoke-free protections to those who need it most” — workers in bars and casinos.

“Regardless of the outcome on November 3rd, our focus is on delivering health protection from secondhand smoke,” Reliford said.

Martin Pion, president of Missouri GASP, which has opposed smoking for 25 years, said the organization supports Prop N.

The measure has loopholes, he acknowledged. “Still, this ordinance is worthwhile. Every restaurant (with or without a bar) will be smoke-free,” he said.

(MOGASP: It would be more accurate to say we oppose secondhand smoke pollution. Our stated goal is “for smoking to only be done between consenting adults in private.”)

The exemption for casino gaming floors sticks in the craw of both supporters and opponents of the ban.

Hannegan predicted the smoking ban would face “costly, extended and embarrassing legal challenges” because of that exemption. And the Greater St. Louis Bowling Proprietors Association said, “Just because big casinos have more political clout than bowling centers, they shouldn’t get a pass.”

Several observers have noted that ban supporters did not want to draw the casinos into the election because they could spend millions of dollars on a campaign and defeat the proposal.

Fraser has not specified a reason for the casino exemption. The smoking ban “is a result of compromise,” she said.

“It is not a perfect bill,” she said. “Fair compromises made the bill possible.”


Some anti-smoking groups want a statewide ban, while other advocates say the best strategy is to start local.

The latter groups believe that state legislation could end up being changed to something that would weaken future local enforcement.

Any action toward getting Missouri to join the 31 states, including Illinois, that have bans is not likely soon. House Speaker Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said no member has expressed interest in drafting a ban for the next session.

State Rep. Joe Fallert, D-Ste. Genevieve, who sought a state constitutional amendment for a smoking ban last session, said Tuesday: “Based on what happened last year, I don’t think it would go anywhere.” State Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, D-St. Louis, a smoke-free advocate, acknowledged: “The state is not ready for a smoking ban.”

Tobacco companies and related industries heavily lobby lawmakers, she said.

“Smoking ban forum discusses air filtration”

Following his afternoon participation in Mark Reardon’s KMOX radio show speaking against Prop N, Bill Hannegan debated it’s primary sponsor, County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, in a forum arranged by the Clayton Chamber of Commerce that same evening. He reiterated ventilation and air filtration as being acceptable alternatives to smoke-free air, echoing a strategy originally developed by the tobacco industry and intended to derail meaningful smoke-free air legislation.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Phil Sutin, whose on-line article is reproduced below, told me today that “This is one of the rare times when both sides discussed the air filtration issue. And Councilman Fraser was the first person to note that it removed the odors but not the harmful constituents in secondhand smoke.”

That’s a lesson to be learned: don’t let Hannegan frame the debate unchallenged.

I’ve addressed the subject of ventilation as an alternative to going smoke-free. See for example “Airport smoking rooms don’t work,” published by the British Medical Journal in Tobacco Control.

Missouri GASP has also sponsored independent research which has proved that even separate smoking rooms with their own HVAC systems still leak secondhand smoke into adjoining nominally smoke-free areas in restaurants and bars. That work has not been submitted for publication but is of publication-quality.

Here’s the article written by reporter Phil Sutin:


10.27.2009 12:06 am
Smoking ban forum discusses air filtration

Post-Dispatch reporter Phil Sutin

Post-Dispatch reporter Phil Sutin

By Phil Sutin
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Air filtration systems to curb second-hand smoke got an airing Monday night.

Bill Hannegan, a major opponent of banning smoking in indoor public places, suggested that air filtration systems could be alternative. He and St. Louis County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, D-University City, the sponsor of the ban on the Nov. 3 St. Louis County ballot, spoke at a forum of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce.

Effective air filtration systems “produce air cleaner than outdoor air,” Hannegan said.
The filtration systems, Fraser said, “get at the issue of smell, but are not effective in eliminating fine particle concentrations and gases.”

Fraser said her smoking ban would protect residents, including those with asthma and other conditions that make people sensitive to second-hand smoke.

Major exemptions to the smoking ban in Fraser’s measure are casino gaming floors, smoking lounges at Lambert Field and some small bars.

The measure “is a result of compromise,” she said. “It is not a perfect bill,” she said. “Fair compromises made the bill possible,” she said.

Hannegan said second-hand smoke is a significant health concern. He said supporters and opponents could have worked out a compromise on a smoking ban that would both protect the public and not hurt businesses.

Some alternatives could involve air filtration systems and limiting smoking to areas that only would admit people more than 21 years old, Hannegan said.

Fraser said studies and experiences of businesses in Ballwin, which fully implemented a smoking ban in 2006, show that bans help rather than hurt businesses. Hannegan pointed to businesses in Ballwin that suffered since the smoking ban.

The chamber’s forum occurred at Clayton’s community center; about 20 people attended.

Prop N debate on Mark Reardon Show, 10/26/09

The Mark Reardon Show on KMOX Radio hosted a pro and con debate on the upcoming St. Louis County Prop N ballot inititiative, scheduled for November 3rd. This is a crucial vote to decide if the St. Louis region moves forward decisively on the smoke-free air issue. The effort in favor is being led by County Citizens for Cleaner Air, a grassroots group made up of a spectrum of mostly individuals who support smoke-free air in the region.

Today, on the Mark Reardon Show, which broadcast live from 2:10 pm to a little before 3:00 pm, Chris Sommers and I squared off against Bill Hannegan and Gary Voss.

Chris is proprietor of the newly opened Pi Pizzeria on Manchester Road, just 1/2 west of S. Lindbergh. Bill Hannegan maintains the blog “KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE!”, and Gary Voss is the Executive Director of the Bowling Proprietor’s Association of St. Louis.

You can listen to the entire broadcast on your computer by clicking the following live link:

Some photos taken during a break are pasted below:


Mike Reardon KMOX Radio Show host preparing to go on-air

Pion & Sommers at Mike Reardon Show, KMOX

Martin Pion, MOGASP President, and Chris Sommers, Pi Restaurant (on right)


Bill Hannegan, KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE, & Gary Voss, Bowling Proprietors Assn. of St. Louis (R)

P-D Letters supporting Prop N: 10/23/09 & 10/25/09

Three Letters to the Editor supporting Proposition N, on the St. Louis County November 3rd ballot, have been published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch over the last three days. Mine and one from Rusti Levin appeared in the Sunday edition today and the other was from Dr. Anthony Masi on Friday. They are reproduced below:

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Letters from our readers

On-line at

Ignore false prophets

Proposition N, on the St. Louis County ballot Nov. 3, will take secondhand smoke out of most indoor private workplaces.

It is opposed by pro-smoking interests and some businesses that will argue that this is not a health issue but a “property rights” issue. Ignore these false prophets.

Missouri GASP has been promoting smoke-free air for 25 years and found long ago that the tobacco lobby exerts overwhelming influence at the state level. Real progress comes locally, as evidenced by recent enactment of Clayton’s strong ordinance. Proposition N offers a chance to expand that throughout St. Louis County.

The ordinance has loopholes, such as exempting small bars and casino gaming floors. Missouri GASP and others worked to remove them, and we will continue that effort if this passes.

Still, this ordinance is worthwhile. Every restaurant (with or without a bar) will be smoke-free, whereas almost all existing local ordinances exempt them.

This is the year St. Louis County, the largest in Missouri, can take secondhand smoke out of many people’s lives. You can help make it happen by supporting Proposition N.

Martin Pion — Ferguson

Join the 21st century

Finally! On Nov. 3, we have an opportunity to prohibit smoking in public places where people dine. It will be up to the people to vote yes on Proposition N so that St. Louis County can join the 21st century and become a more progressive and healthier place to live and visit.

Proposition N is a pure grass-roots movement with little money available to promote it. We are up against Big Tobacco, which has big bucks to fight dirty. It is a David vs. Goliath issue.

The election is less than two weeks away. It is very important to the whole region.

Rusti Levin — University City

On-line at

Voters have a choice on an important public health issue

As a lung physician, I knew the scientific evidence was mounting against the dangers of secondhand smoke. I was not completely surprised when I read the recent U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Institutes of Medicine report demonstrating that smoking bans reduced the rate of heart attacks. 

I was pleasantly surprised, however, when I read on Oct. 15 that the conservative, pro-business Wall Street Journal quoted from the study: “The repeated finding of decreased heart attack rates overall after bans were implemented conclusively demonstrates that smoke-free policies help protect people from the cardiovascular effects of tobacco smoke.”

I am delighted that the business world now is accepting what the health field has know for years: that secondhand smoke is a danger to the health of others both in workplaces and public places. The surgeon general warned us of this danger in his landmark report in 2006.
The CDC and National Institutes of Medicine now are reinforcing the surgeon general’s report. Please use your free choice to protect your health and the health of our communities by voting yes on Nov. 3 for Proposition N, which would restrict smoking in public places.

Dr. Anthony Masi — Kirkwood

Post-Dispatch 10/24/09: “Vote Yes on Proposition N.”

“Proposition N is less comprehensive than clean air laws in Illinois or Kansas City, which means it’s not as strong as it should be. But it’s much better than the current state of affairs.”

That was a conclusion of the editorial board in its endorsement of Prop. N. Missouri GASP agrees.

After interviewing both proponents and opponents of Prop. N, the smoke-free air ordinance on the November 3rd St. Louis County ballot, the Post-Dispatch editorial board came down on the side of health.

That was really no surprise, and is consistent with their editorial position on the subject of secondhand smoke. What would have been surprising is if they’d come out against it, for example by buying the argument that it was too weak to support, or it was causing overwhelming economic harm out of all proportion to the public good. But those arguments simply don’t stand up.

With the full Board of Aldermen of the City of St. Louis just overwhelmingly approving their own smoke-free air ordinance, conditional on Prop. N succeeding at the polls, everything comes down to a strong positive vote on November 3.

Following the Post-Dispatch endorsement on-line are readers’ comments, with several from Bill Hannegan. The endorsement is reproduced below, followed by a long rebuttal I posted to Hannegan’s comments.

cd_ssc__smoke_2_opt-300x246Vote Yes on Proposition N.
By Editorial Board
10.23.2009 9:00 pm

About 60 percent of Americans – 175 million people – now live in communities that restrict smoking in public places.

On Nov. 3, voters in St. Louis County can add the county’s nearly 1 million residents to the list by voting for Proposition N. That would protect the right of nonsmokers to breathe clean air in enclosed public spaces, including restaurants and bars.

Approval would trigger a similar ban in the city of St. Louis. The city’s Board of Aldermen approved the ordinance Friday, contingent on passage of the county ban.

The smoking restrictions could cause some economic hardship and dislocation. But regardless of what opponents may argue, there is indisputable scientific evidence that secondhand tobacco smoke is a serious public health threat.

Most recently, the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academies of Science, reported Oct. 15 that exposure to secondhand smoke increases the risk of heart attack. Clean indoor air laws significantly reduce that risk, the Institute found.

The report confirms what the U.S. surgeon general and scores of peer-reviewed studies have concluded: Clean indoor air laws reduce the incidence of heart disease and heart attacks.

That’s the overwhelming reason to Vote Yes on Proposition N.

People who own smoke shops, some bowling alleys and restaurants are opposing Proposition N. It’s only natural that small-business owners would be concerned about the potential economic impact. The tobacco industry has spent years – and millions of dollars – fanning those fears.

An association of bowling center owners worries, in particular, about the “double standard” inherent in the ordinance. Bowling alleys would have to restrict smoking in their establishments, but large casinos that are their competitors are exempted.

We agree. Just because big casinos have more political clout than bowling centers, they shouldn’t get a pass.

The good news for worried restaurant and bar owners is that scores of peer-reviewed economic analyses show clean indoor air laws have minimal adverse economic impact. That certainly has been the case in Ballwin and Arnold.

Some opponents say Proposition N would infringe on the rights of business owners, who should be able to decide whether smoking is allowed. Should we also allow them to serve tainted food from unsanitary kitchens or block fire exits or disable fire sprinklers?

Secondhand smoke is a public health threat, just like unsanitary restaurant kitchens or unsafe stores. For workers who spend their days and nights in smoke-filled bars and restaurants, the danger is magnified.

They include many young people working at their first jobs. Often, those workers aren’t offered health insurance and aren’t in an economic position to quit.

People shouldn’t be forced to risk their health just to earn a living.

Proposition N is less comprehensive than clean air laws in Illinois or Kansas City, which means it’s not as strong as it should be. But it’s much better than the current state of affairs.

More than 75 percent of St. Louis County residents are nonsmokers. Their health shouldn’t be held hostage to the minority’s tobacco addiction.

Bill Hannegan wrote: “Almost all the “scores of peer-reviewed economic analyses” mentioned have been conducted by public health people, peer-reviewed by other public health people, and published in medical and public health journals. Almost every study concerning the economic effects of smoking bans conducted by real economists and published in economics journals have found that smoking bans cause economic harm to bars and restaurants.”

I can’t speak to this subject, although I would assume the studies in peer-reviewed medical and public health journals would be rigorous, but I can speak from personal experience. The study I co-authored, titled “Airport smoking rooms don’t work,” which was finally accepted for publication in the BMJ peer-reviewed journal, Tobacco Control, went through at least 11 iterations of critique before being accepted and published in March 2004. Since I was working on this sporadically it took most of a year, as I recall. I submitted it to Tobacco Control not because I thought they would simply give me a pass on anything I submitted but because of their area of focus. I stand by the validity and accuracy of the data presented. It was objective and intended to be rebuttal-proof.

Bill Hannegan also wrote: “Federal Reserve economists have determined that smoking bans cut bar revenues in Columbia, Missouri 11 percent and Illinois casino revenues over 20 percent. Why shouldn’t St. Louis County businesses worry?”

These were not peer-reviewed studies appearing in journals. However, on the subject of loss of business due to smoke-free air laws, the studies seems to give mixed results, although many indicate either no effect or a positive effect. Personally, I would guess that some businesses would lose business, e.g. standalone bars might, especially initially, whereas others might actually gain, e.g. restaurants. That’s been the overall result seen in the City of Ballwin since it implemented a comprehensive smoke-free air ordinance. Ballwin has actually done better since, economically, than its immediate neighboring communities.

However, the economic arguments against such laws invariably ignore the hidden costs resulting from the ill-health caused by exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS), e.g. increased healthcare costs that we all bear, and the negative impact on people’s curtailed lives which is unquantifiable. Plus, as I’ve noted repeatedly, these arguments would NEVER be advanced if we were dealing with any other major health threat like swine flu, or environmental issues like asbestos or lead paint mitigation.

We really don’t need the new Institute of Medicine (IOM) study referenced by Bill Hannegan to make the case against SHS. We have more than enough evidence for its harmful effects on exposed healthy nonsmokers in the various U.S. Surgeon General’s reports on SHS, on-line at, starting with the first, published in December, 1986: “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General.”

Martin Pion, President, Missouri GASP

— Martin Pion
2:50 pm October 24th, 2009