Prop N smoke-free air vote today!

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SMOKING BAN VOTE St. Louis Post-Dispatch, November 3, 2009

St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial cartoonist, R J Matson, focused on today’s crucial St. Louis County vote on Prop N. If approved by a majority of county voters it is expected to impact the entire metro area of around 1.3 million people, since the St. Louis Board of Aldermen overwhelmingly approved a similar measure that kicks in provided Prop N passes.

Proponents are comprised mainly of grass roots activists who have formed County Citizens for Cleaner Air, led by former Ballwin alderman, Charley Gatton, sponsor of their original smoke-free air ordinance, and sitting Ballwin alderman Jane Suozzi, a supporter of that ordinance. Others involved include healthcare professionals and those passionate about smoke-free air, including another grass roots group, Missouri GASP.

Opponents include the area bowling alley owners association which fears a dramatic loss of business, Bill Hannegan of KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE!, and a church group opposed to the casino exemption (so they’re going to torpedo the whole bill?!). Spokesperson is Tom Sullivan, who also opposed the MetroLink extension into South County.

Also on the sidelines, after threatening to actively oppose this measure, are the major voluntary health agencies, the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association and American Lung Association, who claim to support smoke-free air but insist on “100% or nothing.” Joining them is Americans for Nonsmokers Rights who have adopted the same philosophy.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Margaret Gillerman, wrote about Prop N opponents in her 10/14/2009 story Push to derail smoking ban begins with two excerpts about opponents below:

“Citizens Against Proposition N” committee contends that a smoking ban would have a negative impact on county businesses and result in a loss of freedom for owners and smokers.

Rev. Harold Hendrick of the Bott Radio Network denounced what he said was an “unfair and discriminatory exemption” to the ban to benefit casino gambling floors. He said St. Louis County government was “coddling casinos.”

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