I had thought that even after being approved by the full Board of Aldermen on Friday, October 30, just three days before the vote on St. Louis County’s Prop-N the following Tuesday, the bill still had some hurdles to jump so this was very welcome news. The bill was signed by Aldermen Lewis E. Reed, the President of the Board of Aldermen, immediately after the Board approved it by a vote of 20 to 7. Mayor Slay signed it into law 10 days later, the earliest possible date. It goes into effect on the same date as the county ordinance: January 2, 2011.
The importance of the Prop-N vote on St. Louis County’s smoke-free air ordinance was that St. Louis City’s law would not go into effect without the approval of the county ordinance. This was done to quell the fears of some aldermen of the need for a “level playing field,” that overused term which assumes that all the smokers flee from the jurisdiction enacting a smoke-free air law but no nonsmokers head in the opposite direction.
Ald. Lyda Krewson deserves our gratitude, not only for her relentless pursuit of passage of a good bill in the face of a lot of opposition from both committee members and affected businesses such as bars, as well as tobacco industry surrogates like Bill Hannegan, but her grace and good humor during a difficult and prolonged political process.
It should also be noted that at long last Lambert Airport has been roped in for regulation. The city ordinance contains no exemption for the airport smoking rooms, unlike the county ordinance, which included such an exemption at the behest of retiring airport director, Richard Hrabko.
Exemptions to permit continued smoking inside the airport are something Lambert has repeatedly and successfully sought every time it was potentially threatened with a smoke-free air law, starting with the first county bill in 1993, which was defeated after heavy tobacco industry lobbying and collusion between Tobacco Institute lobbyists and former St. Louis County Councilman John Shear. Following the bill’s defeat Shear received a donation from the Tobacco Institute in Kansas City, MO, of $1,000 for his Missouri senate campaign, the largest recorded contribution he received during the six month reporting period ending December, 1993.
Missouri GASP has been seeking a smoke-free airport since at least 1993, including filing an ADA discrimination complaint against Lambert and St. Louis City in 1994 which was eventually dismissed by the DOT Office of Civil Rights in 2001, after an appeal in 1995.