In the Community section of today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, reporter Margaret Gillerman provided an update on how the smoke-free air ordinance is working out in Kirkwood. And what do you know? The apocalyptic predictions of opponents aren’t being fulfilled! But among the first posters online following the Post-Dispatch story was the usual drivel from harleyrider1978 whose comment is reproduced in full below, preceding the published story:
This is a hit piece by the smoke free groups because of a problem at the state level trying to get a statewide ban…..look at the levels of sales tax increase,youd think it was a GREAT DEPRESSION.Oh and I am sure Martin pion will be along soon.Martin now that youve publicly admitted second hand smoke is 90% water and ordinary air,perhaps youd like to explain to people how it can possibly harm anyone……to see the true chemical make-up of the comically killer second haand smoke go to MARTIN PIONS MO=GASP PAGE……. Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.” -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD, July 8, 1997 WHAT! DILUTED BELOW PERMISSABLE LEVELS
Just a note regarding the above comment. harleyrider1978’s data on PELs is incorrect, as I was already aware from previous communications with James Repace, who was formerly a senior analyst in the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Division and is a knowledgeable and reliable scientific source on this issue. But others who should know better are the source of this incorrect information. I’ll address this another time.
February 27, 2010 – “Before we wouldn’t take our kids certain places in Kirkwood because they were so smokey. Now I fell like we have full reign,” said Becky Shoemaker of Kirkwood, left, whose family enjoyed the new smoke-free environment at PJ’s Tavern in Kirkwood. The Shoemaker family, Becky and Greg,kids Drew,5, and Taylor,7, enjoyed the back room for Taylor’s basketball banquet. (Laurie Skrivan/P-D)
By Margaret Gillerman
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
KIRKWOOD — The Geyer Inn has been welcoming a hard-core group of fun-loving pool players, drinkers, talkers and smokers for decades now. Dense clouds of cigarette smoke regularly greeted visitors.
But on Jan. 2, the day that Kirkwood’s voter-approved smoking ban went into effect, visitors were greeted by a hand-made no-smoking sign taped above the ornate wooden bar counter.
Now, 10 weeks into the smoking ban, most of that crowd has remained loyal to the Geyer Inn. And they still smoke — stepping outside into the chill winter night to light up.
The ban “hasn’t really affected us that much at all,” bartender Jacque Rafferty said. The bar operates an open-air patio that contains one table, one ashtray and couple of bar stools. “People step outside into the ‘Smoking Garden’ if they want to smoke,” she said. “It’ll be fine in the spring.”
While other Kirkwood establishments are reporting some dips in business — Graham’s Grill and Bayou Bar in particular — most are also saying the smoking ban has not been a terrible burden.
“It’s not bad,” said veteran bar and restaurant entrepreneur Paul Cartier, owner of The Jefferson Grill and PJ’s Tavern in downtown Kirkwood. “It hasn’t really adversely affected us as much as I’d thought it would.
“Obviously you lose some customers on the smoking end, but since we’re family oriented, it actually has helped in a lot of ways. We’re getting a lot of comments about how clean and nice it is and families with kids don’t mind waiting. People from Webster who don’t like smoking are coming in.”
Some late night-bar patrons who smoke have departed, Cartier said. At first, “it was a little bit of a shocker, but I think smokers are getting over it. And when the weather changes, and we have a few nice days, they’ll be back.”
(PJ’s has a patio area, and outdoor smoking is allowed under the Kirkwood ordinance.)
About two-thirds of Kirkwood voters in November favored the ban. Next Jan. 2, the city of St. Louis and St. Louis County will begin enforcement of their smoke-free ordinances.
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Both city and county bans have exemptions. For instance, the county exempts bars that serve little food. The city exempts small bars based on square footage.
Kirkwood’s ban has no such exemptions.
TAX REVENUE IS UP
Sales tax revenue rose in Kirkwood in January over the same period last year.
John Adams, Kirkwood’s finance director, said it was difficult to draw any connection between the smoking ban and tax revenue. That’s because bars and restaurants are only one part of Kirkwood’s overall retail base.
Following are the totals for sales tax revenue distributed by the state of Missouri for Kirkwood and surrounding communities. (The numbers do not include the sizable January sales tax revenue that St. Louis County will distribute to communities in the next few weeks.)
Kirkwood — $293,160 in 2010, up from $272,579 in 2009.
Des Peres — $572,833 in 2010, down from $609,311 in 2009.
Webster Groves — $153,834 in 2010, up from $148,160 in 2009.
Sunset Hills — $140,315 in 2010, down from $148,937 in 2009.
Some had expected Webster Groves bars to siphon off some Kirkwood smokers until Jan. 2, 2011, when the Webster bars also go smoke-free.
Llywelyn’s in Webster Groves has seen a slight change, at most.
“Our sales this year at this time are a little higher,” said Scott Ballard, a manager at the restaurant and bar. “I know we’ve had some people in here from Kirkwood who went to (a bar) in Kirkwood, but only a handful. They’re not coming in droves.
“And next year at this time everyone around here is going to be non-smoking.”
‘A LOT OF HEALTH NUTS’
Bar Louie, a large Kirkwood Road bar and restaurant that attracts crowds of young people, many who smoke, was jammed on a recent weekday night.
Employee Cory Suchara said he enjoyed “not reeking of smoke. I can breathe better. There are a lot of health nuts in Kirkwood and people around here seem to like it.”
Justin McKay, Bar Louie manager, said business was “down a little bit, but it’s not killing us. It’s mainly affecting our late night. It’s pretty packed on most nights.”
McKay said business would pick up when the large outdoor patio opens at the end of this month.
Over at Graham’s Grill and Bayou Bar, Devin Graham, manager and bartender, said that the restaurant side of the business had increased a little, but that bar sales were definitely down.
From Jan. 1 through Feb. 28, business was down 12 percent over the same period last year, he said.
“Late night is when we’re seeing a big downfall,” Graham said. “We’re taking a hit, absolutely.”
The financial drain isn’t only from lower drink sales but also in snacks, the jukebox, bowling machine and darts.
“The restaurant is the main thing keeping us afloat,” Graham said.
Steve and Sheri Nowatski and Christina and Rick Roberts were on their regular Thursday night date to hear their favorite band at Graham’s.
“I hope that the people of Kirkwood will come out and support their local businesses, ” Sheri Nowatski said.
Back at The Geyer Inn, patron Brandon Rosenberg still carried his Camel 99s, but didn’t smoke inside.
“I said we loved the place and we’d still be here,” he said.
Bartender Rafferty, a smoker, said she’d only had trouble with one loud complaining customer.
Rafferty said: “I told him, ‘Go on down to City Hall and smoke inside there and see how far you’ll get.'”