Smoking ban proposal, as amended, trudges along at City Hall

As suggested by the title of this story, which was posted on the Post-Dispatch’s Political Blog by City Hall reporter, Jake Wagman, smoke-free air legislation is making slow and uncertain progress in St. Louis City, and its sponsor, Ald. Lyda Krewson, is being put through the wringer in the process, it appears.

And one wonders what weakening amendments have been added. Wagman mentions delaying the effective date for small bars by 5 years, plus also, like the county bill, exempting casino gaming floors and a percentage of hotel/motel guest rooms. I wonder if it also exempts Lambert Airport’s smoking rooms: the chances are it does.

The bill remains dependent on approval of the county ordinance by voters in November to go into effect.

10.07.2009 3:41 pm
Smoking ban proposal, as amended, trudges along at City Hall
By Jake Wagman
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS — A City Hall panel approved a smoking ban proposal, but it could be years before some establishments have to follow the revamped measure — if at all.

After a lengthy debate on Wednesday, the Board of Aldermen’s Health Committee endorsed sending the plan, with amendments, to the full board, which could hear it later this month.

The bill sponsored by Central West End Alderman Lyda Krewson would be activated only if St. Louis County approves a ban of its own. That means, in effect, county voters could decide the issue for the city as well when they cast their ballot on a smoking ban proposal next month.

First, Krewson’s bill would have to pass the whole Board of Aldermen, which is far from a certain.

An amendment added Wednesday, however, could make it more palatable to those worried about hurting local businesses in down economy.

The provision would give small bars — defined as drinking establishments 1,500 square feet or less — five years to comply. In the meantime, those exempt taverns would have to post a sign, “WARNING: SMOKING ALLOWED HERE.”

Like the county version, the city smoking ban would exempt casino floors and certain hotel rooms.

The bill passed the committee unanimously, but not after Krewson was peppered with questions at a three-hour meeting Wednesday, the final of five hearings on the bill.

“More than any other bill in the 12 years that I have been an alderman,” Krewson said.

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