This story broke first on Channel 4 KMOV.COM St. Louis on Monday evening, June 14, with reporter Matt Sczesny interviewing Jesse Raya, a spokesperson for the Pageant, and also various patrons, both smokers and nonsmokers. Here are some screen shots from the broadcast:
That’s too bad, because some of that secondhand smoke will migrate to nominally smoke-free parts of the building, albeit there’ll probably be less in the Pageant than otherwise.
On the plus side, Joe Edwards isn’t waiting for January 2, 2011, when the St. Louis County smoke-free air ordinance goes into effect, to make this healthy decision for his patrons and performers in the Pageant. Now he just needs to do the same in Blueberry Hill in the Delmar Loop, which is often frequented by families but where there’s also plenty of smoking at the bar and elsewhere.
Posted on June 14, 2010 at 10:42 PM
(KMOV) – In six months, the City of St. Louis will require businesses to go smoke free. However, some are already getting a head start on the new law.
The Pageant in the Delmar Loop will go smoke free the first week in July.
Management says many bands and acts that visit The Pageant request that there be no smoking inside. They say since so many prefer no smoking, getting an early start on the ban was a no-brainer.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch carried the following front page story on Tuesday, June 16:
BY MICHELE MUNZ
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The era when sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll went hand in hand are long gone. Not even cigarettes are allowed these days.
The Pageant announced Monday that it will be smoke-free as of July 1. The venue in the Delmar Loop is consistently ranked as one of the top concert clubs nationally and holds up to 2,300 people.
Joe Edwards, owner of the Pageant, said musicians, patrons and employees were demanding the change. About 80 percent of the bands he books request smoke-free shows, he said, “and that’s a far cry from a decade ago. It shows how much the country’s attitudes about smoking are changing.”
With public smoking banned in 31 states, most rock bands request smoke-free shows when they arrive in states like Missouri with no such law, local venue owners said. In fact, St. Louis area concert venues have been quietly enacting their own smoking bans over the last few years.
Off Broadway in south St. Louis has been smoke-free for nearly three years, and Fubar in midtown St. Louis went smoke-free nearly two years ago. Smoking is permitted in designated outside areas at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. At Scottrade Center, smoking is allowed in its bar and outside two of the entrances.
“Most bands on tour come from cities where smoking has already been banned in bars,” said Fubar owner Robert Fancher. “When they come here, even being smokers, most are glad that we don’t allow it in the venue.”
A smoking ban in public places in St. Louis and St. Louis County takes effect Jan. 2. Casino floors, some hotel rooms, private clubs (mainly veterans and fraternal organizations) and tobacco stores are exempt. In the city, small bars — less than 2,000 square feet where food sales are “incidental” to alcohol consumption — have five years to comply with the ban; they are exempted in the county.
Edwards said with new stage curtains and sound equipment ready to install, he didn’t want to wait for the city ban.
The Pageant had nearly 300 responses to its announcement on Facebook. While most praised the decision, many were not happy.
One commenter wrote: “What happened to the good old days when you could catch a live show in a smoky bar. … Next thing you know the drink special will be a fruit smoothie.”
Matthew Grueninger, 25, of Waterloo, wrote, “With this step forward I, for one, will certainly be attending more concerts and shows.” He’s looking forward to the Pink Floyd tribute show in December, he said.
Sunyatta Marshall, the lead singer of the recently disbanded local rock band Helium Tapes, said bands want smoke-free concerts for the same reasons as patrons and employees. They don’t want to leave with stinky clothes, a burning throat and itchy eyes.
The venues that have gone smoke-free have a side bar, courtyard or lounge for their smoking patrons to light up. Owners of the Old Rock House and Firebird in St. Louis said they would go smoke-free, too, if they had similar areas for smokers to go.
At Firebird, 95 percent of the bands already request smoke-free shows, said co-owner Mike Cracchiolo. “Even in this scene, even in this culture, fewer people smoke.”