Monthly Archives: January 2010

RFT 1/26/10: “When sweeping smoking bans take effect next year, many bar patrons might not even notice the difference”

This fairly comprehensive cover story by reporter Keegan Hamilton in the RiverFront Times of January 25, 2010, focuses mainly on bars which are expected to be exempted when city and county smoke-free air laws go into effect on January 2, 2011, and may benefit from it as a result. There is some question as to exactly which businesses will be affected. Many of the local actors are featured in this story, plus Bronson Frick of Americans for Nonsmokers Rights, based in Berkeley, CA, which played no direct role.

Charles Gatton, County Citizens for Cleaner Air

A surprising omission was any mention of former Ballwin Alderman Charles Gatton, who led “County Citizens for Cleaner Air.” This group spearheaded the highly successful campaign in support of Proposition N at the polls last November, to which was tied the fate of St. Louis City’s ordinance. Also omitted was any mention of Missouri GASP, which was active in all major metro St. Louis smoke-free air efforts in 2009 apart from Kirkwood. That was at the request of “Healthy Air for Kirkwood,” the local grass-roots smoke-free air group which successfully promoted their ballot issue.

Despite the focus of the story on bars that will remain smoky, it does end on a note of optimism for those who see this as a glass 98% full, rather than 2% empty, as evidenced by this concluding quote:

One of the lone barflies at Krueger’s on an icy Thursday afternoon, Tony Zivic, sets his cocktail on the bar and pauses to reflect on the issue.

“In a place like this, even if it did become smoke-free, I don’t think it would hurt,” he says. “The customers are loyal. If you like a bar and you like the company and the people, you’ll still go.”

You can read the entire story on the Riverfront Times on-line by clicking the title: When sweeping smoking bans take effect next year, many bar patrons might not even notice the difference

Below are excerpts from the story, highlighted in blue. Among those quoted are Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, sponsor of the City of St. Louis ordinance, and Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, sponsor of the St. Louis County ordinance approved as Proposition N at the polls, both of whom played crucial roles in the twin smoke-free air victories in the city and county.

Adam Becker, Kruegers Bar & Grill owner

Adam Becker, the second-generation owner of Krueger’s Bar and Grill in University City, expects his establishment to be exempt from St. Louis County’s new smoke-free law.

Ninth Ward Alderman Ken Ortmann (photo below left and below) enjoys a cigar at the Cat’s Meow, his family’s Soulard bar — which likely will permit smoking indoors in 2011 despite a citywide ban.


Photos from RFT by Jennifer Silverberg. Photos of Charles Gatton, Barbara Fraser, Pat Lindsey, Bill Hannegan, Jeff Gershman, and Jane Suozzi by Martin Pion, MoGASP.

Ald. Ken Ortmann lights up a cigar in his bar, the Cat's Meow

Ald. Ken Ortmann, owner Cat's Meow

Cat's Meow bartender Liz Janowski


         








Cat’s Meow bartender Liz Janowski (above right) says she quit smoking 27 years ago, but her job means “I still smoke, but not directly.”

Councilman Steve Stenger, who insisted on exemptions in the county bill for casino gaming floors, small bars, and the airport smoking rooms, was also interviewed:

Councillor Steve Stenger, St. Louis County

Steve Stenger, a councilman from Lemay, fought for the exemptions. “We tried to protect what we envision to be a small bar that serves primarily alcohol,” says Stenger. “We tried to give them at least some type of shield at least temporarily from the negative aspects of not being able to compete with the neighboring counties [that don’t have smoking bans].”

Barbara Fraser, the St. Louis County Council representative from University City who championed the bill and ballot initiative, says she would have preferred a stronger measure but compromises were necessary in order to muster support.

Cllr. Barbara Fraser,
St. Louis County

“It was part of the negotiation in making sure we had the four votes to pass the council,” Fraser says. “We actually tried a piece that had no exemptions, and it didn’t pass. To me what we have now is a great first step — it’s a wonderful step forward for our region.”


Among those in the tobacco control community who are quoted are Pat Lindsey, director of the Tobacco Prevention Center at Saint Louis University, and Bronson Frick, associate director of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, which urged Missouri GASP to work to defeat the county bill and Proposition N on the grounds that it was much too weak. Instead, on the urging of MoGASP members, we played a very active role in its passage. The article alludes to opposition to the measure, while failing to mention that our group was among those actively supporting Prop N:

More significantly, the county law excludes all bars that derive more than 75 percent of their revenue from liquor sales alone.

For that reason, many health groups and hard-line ban supporters refused to endorse it.

Pat Lindsey, TFMo STL

“Health, lung and cancer associations that I deal with on a daily basis, they’re saying, ‘We have to oppose this,'” says Pat Lindsey, director of the Tobacco Prevention Center at Saint Louis University. “All the experts say, ‘It’s a bad ordinance. It has too many exemptions, and it’s too hard to go back and fix it later.'”

Bronson Frick, associate director of the San Francisco-based group Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, says loopholes are common in smoke-free laws.

Bronson Frick, ANR

The statewide ban in California, for instance, excludes “owner-operated” establishments — a technicality Frick says many businesses have exploited by “making every employee a .0001 percent owner” on paper.

In Frick’s opinion, St. Louis’ new laws are among the nation’s most permissive. “The vast majority of the country already has a smoke-free law in place that is stronger than what St. Louis city and county plan to enact,” he says. “In terms of exemptions, it is definitely behind the national norm. And the usual phase-in period is 30 to 90 days. A year is almost unheard of.”

Bronson ignores the fact that the longer-than-usual delay was to allow city and county officials to identify and set up the licensing process required for bars exempted from the ordinances.

Ald. Lyda Krewson,
St. Louis City Ward 28

Alderwoman Krewson was asked by the reporter to guess at the number of city bars expected to be below the 2,000 square foot threshold.

“How many? I don’t know,” Krewson says. “Not too many. I don’t know the number. There’s nothing in the city right now that tracks that kind of thing.”

Bill Hannegan

Among the strong opponents interviewed were Bill Hannegan of Keep St. Louis Free, and Jeff Gershman, spokesman for the Independent Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association of Greater St. Louis, both of whom testified numerous times during the public comment periods against the county bill, for example.

Hannegan said he was expecting a broad bar exemption and then Alderman Schmid offered a narrower exemption.

“We were stunned,” Hannegan says. “All of a sudden Craig Schmid pulls this stuff about 1,500 square feet out of the sky. He even admitted it’s arbitrary. I was, like, ‘Where did you get this shit?'”

Ald. Dionne Flowers, St. Louis City Ward 2

When the bill went before the entire Board of Aldermen, Ward Two’s Dionne Flowers suggested upping the Schmid exemption to bars totaling 2,000 square feet or less. Flowers says she came up with the standard after hearing that the Board of Aldermen’s meeting room measured 3,000 square feet.


An odd thing is that after making the bar exemption more generous, which on it’s face weakened the bill further, Ald. Flowers went on to vote for the bill.

Atty. Jeff Gershman

Jeff Gershman, spokesman for the Independent Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association of Greater St. Louis, says many barmen are so fearful of losing business that they plan to slash food prices in order to qualify for the exemption.

“Jefferson County, Franklin County, St. Charles County — those guys will be able to offer smoking, but bars in St. Louis County will not,” Gershman says. “Smokers will travel to places where they can smoke. That’s why we suggested the county wait for statewide legislation.”

Fraser, in turn, argues that the region needed to lead by example and that the negative economic effects of smoking bans have been overstated. While casinos and several bar owners across the river in Illinois blame that state’s smoking ban for a downturn in business, accounts from communities on the Missouri side of the Mississippi that have already enacted smoke-free laws seem to back up Fraser.

Ballwin Ald. Jane Suozzi

Ballwin alderwoman Jane Suozzi says that while business has declined slightly since the community adopted a clean-air ordinance in January 2006, Ballwin is faring better than neighboring communities such as Manchester that have no smoke-free laws.

“You really can’t blame any one thing in this economy,” says Suozzi, who notes that the sole exemption to her city’s law was granted to the local VFW hall. “The sales-tax figures show we’re right about where we’ve been the past few years.”

Tobacco-Free Missouri STL 2010 Trivia Night, March 20

The following event is being organized by the Tobacco-Free MO Greater St. Louis Coalition and is billed as a fun event-cum-fundraiser. The MC is Rick Wallace, a cohost at 106.5 The ARCH FM radio.

2010 Trivia Night

Drive-time cohost of 106.5 MHz FM radio

Mark your calendar for Saturday, March 20th, 2010 to show-off your smarts with your friends!!!

Tobacco-Free MO – Greater St. Louis Coalition is hosting its 4th annual trivia night at DePaul Health Center in the May Community Center. Doors open at 6:30pm with playing time starting at 7pm.

What: 2010 Trivia Night Fundraiser

Where: May Community Center, DePaul Health Center
                12303 DePaul Drive, Bridgeton, MO 63044

If entering from McKelvey Rd, head to Parking Lot 3 and go to main hospital entrance.

Why: To Support Tobacco-Free Efforts

When: March 20th, 2010 at 6:30pm

This years theme is “St. Louis is ______.” A cash prize will be awarded to the table decorated to best exemplify that theme. There will also be cash prizes for the 1st and 2nd place teams, 50/50 raffles, a silent auction & much more.

Cost is $200 per table maximum of 10 people. Two free drink tickets will be provided for beer or wine. Soda and snacks will be free until they run out. DePaul does not allow outisde alcohol on premises, but feel free to bring munchies.

To register an ENTIRE TEAM: www.tobaccofreemo.org/w/2010triviaTEAM

To register one or more INDIVIDUALS: www.tobaccofreemo.org/w/2010triviaINDIVIDUAL

To print the flyer: www.tobaccofreemo.org/w/sites/default/files/TFMOTriviaNightFlyer2010.pdf

Past support of Trivia Night has funded clean indoor air-quality testing, radio messages about the dangers of secondhand smoke, youth prevention programs at area childrens’ hospital, and promotional education and information.

Are you a business owner looking to support our trivia night through a gift certificate, gift basket, or prize donation? Please read our donation solicitation letter here: http://www.tobaccofreemo.org/w/sites/default/files/TFMOSolicitationTrivia2010.pdf We welcome all varieties of donations, please contact us to see how you can help!

“Missouri GASP Disseminates Results of Tuscany Heart Attack/Smoking Ban Study, Wins $100 Award for Scientific Integrity”

Dr. Michael Siegel published the following on the Medical News blog. It highlights his award to Missouri GASP after we accepted his challenge and published his blog commenting in detail on a recent large study in Tuscany, Italy, showing no short-term association between heart attacks and the implementation of a smoke-free air law. The original study on which Dr. Siegel commented was apparently important for the size of the study and other reasons.

Below is what Dr. Siegel wrote. I’m grateful for his comments and agree wholeheartedly with his sentiments about the need for the tobacco control community to maintain its scientific integrity.

Missouri GASP Disseminates Results of Tuscany Heart Attack/Smoking Ban Study, Wins $100 Award for Scientific Integrity

As promised in the challenge I issued on January 12, I am today sending a $100 donation to Missouri GASP in recognition of its dissemination of the results of a study which demonstrated no effect of the smoking ban in Tuscany, Italy on heart attacks within the first year of the ban. Missouri GASP reports the results of that negative study here. Previously, GASP Missouri had posted information on studies concluding that there was a large immediate impact of smoking bans on heart attacks. Thus, Missouri GASP has answered the challenge and earned the $100 award.

In my note to Martin Pion, the president of Missouri GASP, I stated the following: “I commend you for being willing to consider the scientific evidence, even if it is “unfavorable” to our agenda. I will highlight your action on my blog and will also make a $100 donation to Missouri GASP. I hope this will set an example for other groups and demonstrate that we can promote anti-smoking policies and retain our scientific integrity at the same time. They are not contradictory to each other. Thanks for taking a leadership role in the movement in terms of scientific integrity.”

The Rest of the Story

Unfortunately, Missouri GASP – under the leadership of Martin Pion – represents a very rare and unique exception to the general rule among tobacco control groups, which is: publicize only findings favorable to our position and hide studies that do not support our position. Actually, I have known Martin for some time and always found him to be an individual of the highest character and integrity. He treats opponents of smoking bans with respect, does not automatically accuse them of being funded by Big Tobacco, and is willing to consider and share all scientific data, whether favorable or not. Even in his article on outdoor smoking bans, Martin shared the quote from Gary Nolan (regional director of Citizens Freedom Alliance, which opposes smoking bans) opining that outdoor smoking bans are going too far. So I think Martin has always been an exception to the general rule I’ve observed in the tobacco control movement.
Other notable exceptions to this rule include the American Council on Science and Health, which is one decidedly anti-smoking group which has taken a balanced and reasonable position on tobacco issues and has been guided by science and not ideology, and Smokefree Pennsylvania, which – under Bill Godshall’s leadership – has always been willing to consider the scientific data and which has in fact helped me to inform anti-smoking groups of their inaccurate claims (like me, without much success).

Why aren’t there more anti-smoking groups out there like Missouri GASP, ACSH, and Smokefree Pennsylvania? I believe the answer largely has to do with the response that individuals and groups which go against the established dogma and tactics of the movement receive from the rest of the movement. You are essentially viewed as a traitor, accused of being a Big Tobacco front, accused of taking tobacco money, and generally scorned, attacked, and even censored. With that response, one wouldn’t expect a lot of anti-smoking groups or individual advocates to break out of the group think mentality of the movement and to be guided by science rather than pure ideology. Even when individuals may personally have views that differ from the organization as a whole, they are hesitant to speak out because it could cost them their job. Very understandable.
The only way to create a movement in which scientific integrity returns is to restore an environment in which groups and advocates can freely share their opinions, as well as the scientific facts, without being subject to personal criticism from others. Right now, that simply does not exist in tobacco control. Believe me, it is a poisonous atmosphere in which any expression of sentiments or even facts that go against the dogma of the movement is heresy, and treated as such.
But it is comforting to know that there are at least a few shining exceptions.

“Published Study Finds No Effect of Smoking Ban on Heart Attacks in Tuscany, Italy in First Year After Ban”

I was alerted to the following article on Dr. Michael Siegel’s blog earlier today by Mr. Bill Hannegan, who maintains the blog KEEP St. LOUIS FREE, and who vigorously opposes smoke-free air laws. Mr. Hannegan wrote:

Mr. Pion,

Dr. Michael Siegel, on his blog, had offered $100 to any antismoking group that posts the attached study. I don’t think anyone has taken up his challenge yet. Posting this on your blog is an easy way to pick up $100.

I checked his blog and sure enough Dr. Siegel had challenged anyone in the tobacco control movement to post this study. He asserted that “Anti-smoking groups have largely lost their scientific base and scientific integrity and they are now turning into propaganda machines which are only interested in disseminating findings that are favorable to their cause.” To back up his assertion he was offering $100 to anyone in the “anti-smoking movement” that published the results of this negative study.

I would categorize Missouri GASP as pro-smoke-free air rather than anti-smoking, but we’re more than happy to publicize peer-reviewed and reliable scientific studies which challenge accepted orthodoxy. Likewise we are not afraid to publish any studies funded by MoGASP, no matter what their results show. Below is Dr. Siegel’s blog in its entirety, together with a link to the original published paper which prompted his blog. (The paper has also been uploaded to the mogasp blog as a pdf file: Smoking_bans_&_heart_attacks_Tuscany_study_2010.)

After contacting Dr. Siegel to let him know MoGASP had accepted his challenge he wrote back:

I commend you for being willing to consider the scientific evidence, even if it is “unfavorable” to our agenda. I will highlight your action on my blog and will also make a $100 donation to Missouri GASP. I hope this will set an example for other groups and demonstrate that we can promote anti-smoking policies and retain our scientific integrity at the same time. They are not conradictory to each other.
Thanks for taking a leadership role in the movement in terms of scientific integrity.

Best regards,
Mike

Note that on November 29, 2009, the mogasp blog reproduced an article from Parade Magazine with an on-line poll “Should Smoking Be Banned Outdoors?” That post can be found by clicking the above title. The Parade Magazine article noted studies showing a dramatic reduction in heart attacks following the enactment of smoke-free air laws and up to now that has been the accepted science.

Personally, I don’t believe that this latest evidence challenges the estimates of at least 30,000 annual U.S. heart attack deaths among nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke, no more than it does the 3,000 lung cancer deaths attributed to the same cause.

Dr. Michael Siegel, Boston University School of Public Health

TUESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2010

Published Study Finds No Effect of Smoking Ban on Heart Attacks in Tuscany, Italy in First Year After Ban

A peer-reviewed study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology has concluded that there was no significant effect of the smoking ban in Tuscany, Italy on heart attacks during the first year of implementation (see: Gasparrini A, Gorini G, Barchielli A. On the relationship between smoking bans and incidence of acute myocardial infarction. European Journal of Epidemiology 2009; 24:597-602).

This is the first published study to report no significant effect of a smoking ban on heart attacks.

The smoking ban in Italy went into effect on January 10, 2005. The investigators compared incident cases of acute myocardial infarction (heart attacks) among the Tuscany population (which is about 3.6 million) during the five-year period before the ban (2000-2004) with the number of cases during the first year after the ban (2005).

Monthly, age-standardized rates for acute myocardial infarction were determined for the entire study period and a Poisson regression model was used to assess the significance of any changes in heart attack incidence during 2005 compared to the baseline period. The analysis controlled for seasonality, long-term trends, and changes in the age distribution of the population.

Two models were tested: a linear model and a non-linear model. In the linear model, the authors found that the smoking ban was associated with a non-significant 5.4% reduction in the heart attack rate in 2005. In the non-linear model, the authors found that the smoking ban was associated with no effect whatsoever on heart attack rates (a non-significant 1% increase).

The article concludes: “Differently from the results published to date, this study did not find a comparable effect of the smoke-free law on the incidence of AMI [acute myocardial infarction] during the first year after the implementation of the ban. Our estimate and the related uncertainty suggest that the expected reduction is likely to be lower. … The estimate of the effect of the ban seems to be highly sensitive to the model specification and to the effects of unaccounted factors which could modify the trend of AMI incidence, such as changes in the prevalence of other risk factors or the modification of diagnostic criteria. Several arguments which are put forward to inspect the causal relation between smoking bans and AMI indicate that the plausible effects could be lower than the estimates reported so far.”

The authors close by stating: “The implementation of smoking bans in public places represents a milestone in the history of public health. The relationship with a decrease of both active and passive smoke is unquestionable, with conclusive evidences on the reductions of a number of health outcomes after the enforcement. In particular, a decrease of cardiovascular events in the long run is expected, given the conclusive association with chronic SHS exposure. On the other hand, the estimate of the short-term effect of smoking bans on cardiovascular diseases is still uncertain, and the range of reduction showed by some of the studies published to date is likely to be an overestimate, not consistent with previous knowledge about the burden of cardiovascular diseases attributable to SHS. Moreover, several other factors, like changes in diagnostic criteria, have a strong influence on the trend of cardiovascular diseases, and it seems very problematic to properly control for their effects with this study design. Nonetheless, as this study has shown, the resulting bias could be substantial.”

The Rest of the Story

This study has a number of important strengths compared to the previous literature on this research question. First, it covers a large population of about 5.6 million people. The results are based on a total of 13,456 new cases of myocardial infarction. This compares with only 304 heart attacks in the Helena study.

A second advantage of this study is that the identification of heart attack cases is based on a registry (the Acute Myocardial Infarction Registry of Tuscany), which provides consistent surveillance for heart attacks occurring throughout the study period. This differs from studies such as the one in Scotland, where different methods were used to identify heart attacks occurring pre-ban and post-ban.

Perhaps the most important strength of the study is that it included a reasonable baseline period of five years, rather than just one or two years prior to the implementation of the smoking ban, which was the case in many of the previous studies.

A final strength of this study is that it considered both linear and non-linear trends in heart attacks to model the results. But it is important to note that even with a linear trend assumption, the study found no significant effect of the smoking ban and the estimated magnitude of the association was quite small (just 5.4%).

Importantly, this published study was not considered by the Institute of Medicine committee which reviewed this issue and released its report in October of last year. It was also not considered in published meta-analyses on this topic. Because of the high sample size of this study, it is likely that inclusion of this study in the previous meta-analyses would have negated their results.

While one study does not prove or disprove a hypothesis (one always needs to look at the totality of the evidence), this study is important because it is not consistent with the conclusions that have been widely disseminated by anti-smoking groups. The interesting thing to observe will be whether or not these findings are even reported by these groups.

Based on my experience in the anti-smoking movement, I am willing to bet that not a single group which previously reported the results of studies “favorable” to their cause will now report the results of this negative study. In fact, I’m so sure that no group will do this that I am putting up a $100 reward for the first group that does. I will contribute $100 to the first anti-smoking organization that previously reported the results of one of the positive studies and which now reports the results of this negative study.

I’m not worried about losing my money because as I’ve recently learned, it’s not the quality of the science or the truth that is important. It’s the favorability of the findings. Anti-smoking groups have largely lost their scientific base and scientific integrity and they are now turning into propaganda machines which are only interested in disseminating findings that are favorable to their cause. They will not share unfavorable findings because the ultimate goal is not the truth and the scientific facts, but the supporting of the agenda.

I’d love to be proven wrong. It can be done simply by emailing me the link to an anti-smoking group’s dissemination of the results of the Tuscany study. I’ll be waiting.

1/14/10 P-D: “Festus, Arnold hit snags on getting voter input”

This recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch report by Christine Byers shows once again the interest in surrounding communities generated by last year’s major legislative gains in the smoke-free air arena.

Most of this story is about the red light camera controversy in Arnold, where a group of residents called Don’t Tread on Me presented a petition for an advisory referendum, which state law prevents in third- and fourth-class cities.

The final paragraph mentions a Festus survey relating to secondhand smoke in which 72% favored smoke-free workplaces. That prompted Councilman Sam Richards to express optimism that the new council will move forward on this issue after the April elections without a formal referendum.

One would hope so. Would the city be conducting a public survey in their community if they had tainted water supplies? Obviously not. So why delay acting on the issue of secondhand smoke? Let’s hope the new council is sufficiently enlightened to act following the April elections, if not before.

Bill Hannegan is first to add an on-line comment and argues that the survey is not representative because, in his words, “Less than ten percent of Festus households cared enough about the secondhand smoke issue to fill out and return the survey. No surprise that the few households who did strongly favored a smoking ban.” He goes on argue instead in favor of a Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services survey showing less than 19% of Jefferson County residents favoring such legislation.

Once again, Hannegan is attempting to misdirect the issue. Public health isn’t a popularity contest and it shouldn’t depend on surveys, no matter what they show.

Festus, Arnold hit snags on getting voter input
By Christine Byers
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
01/14/2010

Festus City Council members could ban smoking in city restaurants, but first they want to know what voters think.

Arnold’s city leaders are wrestling over the future of the red light cameras that document illegal turns at several intersections, and they want voter input.

The problem is Festus and Arnold are third-class cities, and state law does not allow them to poll voters on election ballots with the intent to change or keep existing laws based on the outcome, said Stephen Ables, assistant director of the St. Louis County Municipal League.

“Without the law, it would be like the town hall meetings in New England where everyone votes on everything,” Ables said.

Third- and fourth-class cities had smaller populations and were less professionally managed when the state laws governing them were enacted, Ables said.

Festus leaders backed off the referendum idea after hearing from their city attorney.

But tonight could mark the second attempt in Arnold to win support for a ballot question on the cameras.

City Councilman Matt Hay has put an item on tonight’s agenda seeking council approval to ask voters: “Shall the city of Arnold continue to have red light cameras monitoring traffic within the city of Arnold?”

In 2006, Arnold became the first city in Missouri to begin using cameras to catch drivers who run red lights.

A federal lawsuit filed against the city in 2008 alleged that the tickets are illegal and an unconstitutional violation of drivers’ civil rights. Ultimately, a federal judge dismissed the challenge.

Arnold’s contract with American Traffic Solutions, which provides the cameras, expires in December. The council cannot remove the cameras until then, Hay said.

Last January, a group of residents called Don’t Tread on Me presented a petition with about 900 signatures of residents who wanted an advisory referendum. The council tabled the discussion.

Then in August, Arnold’s city attorney at the time, Bob Sweeney, warned the council that it could be putting the city at risk for a lawsuit if it put the question on the ballot. The council fired him in December.

In a memo dated Jan. 4, the city’s new city attorney, Dennis Tesreau, echoed Sweeney’s opinion.

“It is my belief that the city of Arnold could pass a resolution placing this issue before the voters. … However, a lawsuit could potentially be filed against the city of Arnold claiming that the city of Arnold has no authority to place that issue before the voters even in this nonbinding fashion. That could cause additional expenses, costs and legal fees in defending such a suit.”

Hay said that while no law authorizes cities like Arnold to conduct advisory referendums, neither does any law prohibit it.

“There is no monetary risk to the city by putting this before the voters,” Hay said.

Mayor Ron Counts said he won’t support the resolution because of Tesreau’s opinion but said he agrees with the need to seek public input on the issue.

Councilman Randy Crisler called the ballot effort “ridiculous.”

“Just because you get rid of an attorney doesn’t mean you get rid of the statute,” he said.

But state Sen. John Griesheimer, R-Washington, has proposed a measure to do just that. He prefiled a bill in December proposing that the Legislature grant third- and fourth-class cities the power of referendums. Previous efforts to do so have failed.

Festus, meanwhile, turned to a survey of residents by the Jefferson County Health Department. Councilman Sam Richards said the survey, showing 72 percent in favor of smoke-free workplaces, was enough of a referendum on public opinion. He hopes the new council elected in April will agree.

12/31/2009 Globe-Democrat: “Kirkwood rings in smoke-free new year”

The newly-resuscitated Globe-Democrat, in an Internet-only reincarnation, reported on the latest St. Louis municipality to embrace 100% smoke-free indoor air with the following story.

Kirkwood rings in smoke-free new year
By Jordan Lanham
Thursday, December 31, 2009

Kirkwood residents will kick off 2010 with a breath of fresh air.

For bar and restaurant patrons across the city–a smoking section will no longer be an option come Saturday when the city’s voter approved smoking ban takes effect. The city has prepared for the change by sending letters and copies of the new ordinance to local business owners. Kirkwood Mayor Art McDonnell is looking forward to the change and what it will mean to the city.

“I hope it will be a positive change for our restaurants,” he said. “I’m hoping they see an upsurge in people who come for the smoke-free environment.”

The Kirkwood ban takes effect exactly a year before the St. Louis County wide ban and allows fewer exemptions to the law. The county wide ban exempts cigar bars and bars where food sales contribute no more than 25% of sales, but you won’t find any smoky bars in Kirkwood. McDonnell said the city’s limitations are tighter than those proposed by the county by the choice of Kirkwood voters.

“There are a lot of people concerned about the health aspect and I think it’s a legitimate concern,” he added. Some look forward to saying goodbye to smoke.

“I am in favor as an ex-smoker, “said Peggy Litzsinger of Manchester, who frequently dines in Kirkwood. Litzsinger smoked for 30 years and decided to quit after watching the habit kill a close friend. She said maybe the restriction will help others quit.

Some managers and owners of local restaurants and bars worry the restriction will be bad for business.

Rose Wheeler, manager of Spencer’s Grill on South Kirkwood Road said the ban isn’t bad for business but questionable for America.

“It should be a business owner’s decision,” she said. “It’s bad for the country when stuff like this happens.”

Anne Vaporean of Kirkwood said she used to be bothered by her mother’s secondhand smoke and the ban will provide a better environment in restaurants. But she says she didn’t vote on the issue because she didn’t feel the decision was up to her.

“If people want to smoke then that’s their business,” she said.

Officials in cities that implemented smoking bans a few years ago say it was a step in the right direction.

Ald. Jane Suozzi

Ballwin Alderman Jane Suozzi said when the city limited smoking in public areas in 2006 at first there was outrage because people felt a right had been taken away.

“But it’s a health issue not a rights issue,” she said.

She added that both businesses and patrons have been cooperative and so far the police haven’t written any tickets for violations. Because of their success, Ballwin officials have encouraged other municipalities to adapt to smoking limitations. Suozzi said she thinks the St. Louis County wide ban set to take effect in 2011 is a positive move and hopes in the future there will be a push from the state level to tighten limitations and extend to places like casinos where smoking will still be permitted.

“The benefits are intangible on the smoke-free side,” she said.

Supporters of the county wide limitations are glad to see Kirkwood on board. Martin Pion and his non-profit organization MoGasp, pushed for legislation to make public places a safe place to breathe in St. Louis County and he is glad Kirkwood is on board a year early.

“I think it’s wonderful, “he said. “They’ll demonstrate once again that such public health measures are supported by a majority of the population.”

Comments

richinstl (anonymous) says…
I may start dining out in Kirkwood thanks to the smoking ban. Thank you citizens of Kirkwood! You have earned my money!

January 1, 2010 at 10:36 a.m.

KTVI Fox2 News 1/2/2010: “Kirkwood Smoking Ban Takes Effect Saturday”

Fox2 News reported on the first day of the smoke-free air ordinance in Kirkwood yesterday, which appeared to have gone off without a hitch, at least at Spencer’s Grill, where ashtrays had disappeared overnight. There was some grumbling and concern expressed over impact on profits, and a server was interviewed taking a chilly cigarette break outside. But two customers interviewed were decidedly happy.

You can view the 2:28 minute TV report by clicking the following link: http://www.fox2now.com/videobeta/watch/?watch=bc26de8c-cb0d-4d3c-9838-f9dc9e3e2884&src=front

Clicking the title below also takes you to the page with the story copied below.

Kirkwood Smoking Ban Takes Effect Saturday
By Reporter George Sells
FOX2now.com
January 2, 2010

FOX2 News Reporter George Sells exiting Spencer's Grill after interviewing customers and owner

KIRKWOOD, MO (KTVI-FOX2now.com) – Starting Saturday, smoking is no longer allowed in restaurants and bars in Kirkwood, MO. All this comes one year before a smoking ban takes effect St. Louis County and City wide.
Voters overwhelmingly approved Kirkwood’s Clean Air Act on November 3. Kirkwood is the second County municipality to go smoke-free; Ballwin is the other. Clayton goes smoke free in July. Arnold in Jefferson County has had a smoking ban for several years.

(mogasp: Arnold’s ordinance is far more limited in scope, and was amended to exempt restaurants/bars with separately ventilated indoor smoking rooms, which later we had independently tested and proved to be ineffective.)

The entire state of Illinois went smoke free two years ago. At Spencer’s Grill on Kirkwood Road, the only smoke Saturday morning was coming off the grill.
They’ve been serving up breakfast since 1946, but Saturday was the first time in those six plus decades, that a cigarette was not an option with that cup of coffee. The ash trays here, like all businesses in Kirkwood, are obsolete.

Spencer's Grill owner, Chip Powers, talking to the Brueggemanns who are interviewed later

Jeanette Brueggemann, pro smoke-free air, being interviewed in by reporter George Sells

Jeanette Brueggemann favors the ban. She says, “The fact you can go anywhere you want to go and not have to worry about the air being so polluted you can’t hardly breathe or taste your food.”

There are obvious health benefits as well, but some worry about a different kind of health. The financial health of businesses who, for the next year, have to compete with others just miles away who can still allow customers to light up.

Spencer's Grill owner, Chip Powers, being interviewed


Spencer’s Grill owner Chip Powers says,” There’s bars up the street. I think its gonna hurt them. To me it’s a little unfair to them. Or they should have waited a year where it’s a level playing field for everybody. ”

Some who voted against the ban feel the same way. Tom Huber doesn’t even smoke.

Tom Huber, a self-professed nonsmoker, who opposes smoke-free air law


Huber says, “I think it puts businesses at a real disadvantage. You have businessmen who come in and invest in Kirkwood with the rules being x and we change the rules to y. I think it’s a real disadvantage to those businessmen.”

Though some argue non smokers will be drawn to Kirkwood rather than the other way around.