“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.

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