Missouri Smoke-Free Air Act, SB904, got a senate committee hearing on 2/22/2010

Sen. Joan Bray
D-St. Louis County

State Senator Joan Bray (D-St. Louis) had an unexpected hearing into her comprehensive Missouri Smoke-Free Air Act, SB 904, on Monday night, February 22, 2010, after a time slot opened up in a committee.

The hearing took place before the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, chaired by Senator Matt Bartle (R-Jackson County), in the State Capitol in Jefferson City.

It was reported by KMOX Radio and KOMU (University of Missouri-Columbia, School of Journalism) with stories from both published on-line (please see below). Both reporters noted the absence of any opposition speakers during public comments on the bill, when fourteen people testified.

This has led one of the most vocal opponents of smoke-free air laws, Bill Hannegan of KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE, to cry foul. In an e-mail to me he claimed that it wasn’t fair that opponents weren’t alerted to the hearing but supporters were. In one e-mail he wrote:

“The fact that no one from our side across the entire state showed up makes it clear we did not know. I am going to formally request another hearing so the opposition has a chance to speak. This really stinks.

Bill Hannegan”

My e-mailed advice to Bill, which he subsequently accepted, was that he needed to communicate any objections he has to the bill to the committee chair, Sen. Matt Bartle.

There is no question that this effort is now picking up steam, but there are plenty of major hurdles ahead. The tobacco industry remains a major foe in the state capitol, with literally “money to burn,” and money talks at the state and federal level: there’s plenty of evidence for that!

Below are the two stories which are posted on-line. Note that in the first story, KMOX Radio reporter Emily Coleman writes:

“The state ban would supersede any city bans.”

This is not strictly true. If the state law includes wording specifically allowing stronger local ordinances – and it is important that it does contain this clause – then stronger language at the local level will prevail without any possibility for a legal challenge, even an unsuccessful one, as happened last year with the current Missouri Clean Indoor Air Act which lacks such specific wording. In fact, this bill does contain this wording:

191.1230 – 2. Nothing in sections 191.1200 to 191.1230 shall prohibit a political subdivision of this state or a local board of education from enacting more stringent ordinances or rules.

The current text of SB904 (Senate Bill 904) can be found here.

Statewide smoking ban hears no opposition in Jeff. City

Emily Coleman Reporting
kmoxnews@kmox.com
Posted: Monday, 22 February 2010 9:49PM

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Jefferson City Bureau) — No opposition came before the Senate Judiciary Committee to protest a proposed statewide smoking ban Monday evening.

The bill would prohibit smoking in public places, including restaurants, shopping malls and sports arenas. It is more comprehensive than the smoking ban that was passed in St. Louis City and County, which exempted casinos and bars where food sales are less than 25 percent of overall sales.

The state ban would supersede any city bans.

“Secondhand smoke is a toxin,” said Jason Sharp, Phelps County Regional Medical Center’s director of radiation oncology.

He was one of many who pushed the negative effects of secondhand smoke at the hearing.

Sen. Matt Bartle
R-Jackson County

Sen. Matt Bartle, R-Jackson County, who chairs the committee, asked if eating French fries should also be banned because it negatively impacts taxpayers who have to pay for Medicaid costs related to obesity.

“Because that’s the slope were on,” he said, adding, however, that he is inclined to support the bill because he finds smoking offensive.

Other proponents of the bill also pointed to increased Medicaid and Medicare costs related to diseases caused by smoking and the minimization of social smoking to those trying to quit.

Copyright KMOX Radio
Filed Under : Jefferson City, smoking ban

Smoking Ban Picking Up Heat
Reported by: Alex Rozier
Posted by: Mark Kelly
Published: Monday, February 22, 2010 at 9:49 PM
Last Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 5:44 AM

Cigarette in ashtray

Statewide smoking ban considered.

JEFFERSON CITY – For the first time this legislative session, a Senate Committee discussed a potential statewide smoking ban.

For the past three years, Jim Green’s sat in the same booth, in the same corner, at the same place.

George’s Pizza and Steakhouse is located off the Lake of the Woods exit just outside Columbia’s city limits. All of Columbia is non-smoking, but because George’s is just outside, smokers can gather. Jim Green’s smoked for 55 years, and he’s completely fine with that.

“If I want to smoke, I can sit here and smoke,” Green said.

But if Senator Joan Bray gets her way, Green’s plans may soon have to change.

34 states and nearly 70% of Americans are covered by smoking bans.

“When these go to the vote of the people, folks want it,” Bray said.

However, not everyone agrees.

Charles Clayton is the owner of the Turtle Club Bar and Grill in Ashland, and he said he is completely opposed.

“I think it’s an infringement on our freedom to operate our business. I think if the government wants to impose restrictions on our business, our customer base, then they should pay our bills,” Clayton said.

However, Jason Sharp of Phelps County Medical Center said he disagrees.

“This is not about business rights, it’s not about whether it’s right or wrong. It’s about the health of the people affected,” Sharp said.

Some of Missouri’s largest cities already have bans in place, including Columbia, Saint Louis, and Kansas City.

“Maybe it’s a good idea to have non-smoking restaurants, but why not have a few that smoke,” Larry Kerr of Columbia said.

The hearing took nearly an hour and fourteen people testified. All fourteen testified in favor of the ban.

If the ban were to pass, smoking would be prohibited in all public places, and fines would range from 50 to 500 dollars.

15 responses to “Missouri Smoke-Free Air Act, SB904, got a senate committee hearing on 2/22/2010

  1. Reese Erick Forbes

    The complaint by Hannegan is lame – if the hearing had been unexpected, more of the smoking ban supporters than 14 would have been there, since there is overwhelming support to have a state wide ban on indoor smoking (it is what most businesses have wanted for years).

  2. Reese

    As usual you miss the point – proponents were quietly informed of the hearing while opponents heard about it afterward. Now the headlines are “there is no opposition”. No worries though, this is only the first of many skirmishes in the battle.

  3. I fully support a statewide ban. Those who still beleive in the freedom of smokers to smoke bear in mind that in America you’re free to do anything, but just so long as it doesn’t cause any harm to anyone else. You are not free to kill, and smoke kills, not as quickly as a bullet but more slowly, and the end result is death just the same, because the chemicals in cigarette smoke are poisonous.

  4. Reese Erick Forbes

    No Tony, you miss the point, but I am not going to explain it to you again.

    • You are referring to Dr. Michael Siegel, Boston University, who is a stickler for the facts. He castigates health advocates who exaggerate the facts, or are careless with them, on the grounds that this weakens the legitimate case for strong protection from SHS. I agree with him. Although I think the evidence in support of smoke-free air laws and protection of the public from SHS is overwhelming, I’m concerned that our credibility could be undermined. Proponents of smoke-free air need to be scrupulous in reporting the facts.

  5. I don’t believe I have ever heard so many lies in one article in my life.
    This stands out as one of the biggest “34 states and nearly 70% of Americans are covered by smoking bans.” This acts like, just because a State has smoking bans it covers everyone in that State. This is why the folling is called for.

    Scientists Promote Launch of The Brussels Declaration on Scientific Integrity

    2009-12-05 15:51:49 – Leading scientists from across the globe are supporting the launch of The Brussels Declaration on Scientific Integrity(1), strongly upholding professional and scientific ethics above financial and political gain or personal ideology.

    The Declaration is a Statement of Principles calling for the return to the Scientific Method as the guiding qualifier for the definition of a study as scientific. It centers around epidemiology and toxicology and covers topics such as alcohol, obesity and passive smoking.

    John Gray of The International Coalition Against Prohibition (TICAP(2)) states, “The Brussels Declaration was initiated during the successful

    TICAP Conference of January 2009(3). It will pave the way for the return to the robustness and reliability of scientific integrity that is essential for the credibility of scientific institutions and general advancement of humanity.”

    • You are evidently ignoring the decades of lies from the tobacco industry, first directed towards the science that showed smoking to be deadly for smokers, then the subsequent evidence showing that SHS was also a cause of death due to lung cancer and heart disease in exposed nonsmokers.
      As to the data with which you particularly take exception, “34 states and nearly 70% of Americans are covered by smoking bans,” I checked Americans for Nonsmokers Rights website for the latest data and agree with you that this is overstating the current reality but the trend is unmistakable. I came up with the following information, which I believe to be reliable. It lists 20 states as currently having comprehensive laws which cover workplaces, restaurants and bars, and another two states with laws to go into effect mid-year:

      STATES and COMMONWEALTHS WITH 100% SMOKEFREE LAWS IN ALL WORKPLACES,* RESTAURANTS,** AND BARS
      currently in effect as of January 5, 2010

      Only states and commonwealths with laws that do not allow smoking in attached bars or separately ventilated rooms and do not have size exemptions are listed here.

      Arizona
      Delaware
      Hawaii
      Illinois
      Iowa
      Maine
      Maryland
      Massachusetts
      Minnesota
      Montana
      Nebraska
      New Jersey
      New York
      Ohio
      Oregon
      Puerto Rico
      Rhode Island
      Utah
      Vermont
      Washington

      Note: The following state laws have been passed by the legislature and signed by the governor but
      either are not yet in effect or are subject to a referendum vote:
      • Michigan enacted a 100% smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar law, which is scheduled to go
      into effect May 1, 2010.
      • South Dakota enacted a smokefree workplace law that became effective July 1, 2002, and a 100%
      smokefree restaurant, bar, and gaming facilities law, which was scheduled to go into effect on July 1,
      2009, but which has been suspended by a referendum placing the law on the ballot in November
      2010, and which will not go into effect unless approved by the voters.
      • Wisconsin enacted a 100% workplace, restaurant, and bar law, which is scheduled to go into effect
      July 5, 2010.

  6. Any bill has to be posted 24 hours in advance of the hearing on the Missouri House and/or Senate websites. I became aware of the hearing by checking the Senate website, http://www.senate.mo.gov. I check the hearing schedules daily to educate myself on what committees will hear what bills. I don’t depend on others to keep me informed, and accept this responsibility on my own.

    • You are obviously more organized than I am! I was fortunate to receive several e-mails on Sunday from individuals alerting me to the Monday hearing but I’m sure you’re right about a mandatory requirement that it be posted ahead of time.

  7. St. Louis businesses should have been given notice about the hearing by Joan Bray. Shame on her!

  8. I found this online about indicating that Kathi Harness is far from an ordinary Missouri citizen:

    “KATHI HARNESS was named government relations director of the American Lung Association of Missouri. She will coordinate with the board and staff to advocate the mission of the association. Harness has served as a governmental relations consultant since 1995.”

    http://www.newstribune.com/articles/2005/12/17/business/1217050027.prt

  9. You health fanatics sicken me. You want to make it illegal to smoke a cigarette in a bar to protect barmaids from exposure to second-hand smoke. Why aren’t you as concerned about the health of those poor coal miners in WV & PA who suffer from black lung? Try fighting for something concrete & documented instead of trying to bully the rest of us!

    • The obvious answer is: Your secondhand smoke sickens me!
      And I suppose the US Surgeon General, who is typically an MD, is a health fanatic.
      Finally: “Why aren’t you concerned about coal miners’ health instead?” – is typical sleight-of-hand and misdirection.

    • Reese Erick Forbes

      Everyone (except I guess the coal companies themselves) is concerned about black lung, Chris. But as you mentioned those states are WV & PA – this tread is about MO and we are fighting for laws to prevent the concrete and well documented harmful effects of secondhand smoke IN MO.

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