2010/11/18 P-D: “A win for smoking foes in O’Fallon”

More good news for those wanting to breathe smoke-free air in public places and the private workplace. The success in Lake St. Louis earlier this year evidently gave an assist to folks in another metro community and hopefully we will continue to see progress on the health and welfare front.

One thing I noted about the article is its emphasis on “banning” smoking, which gives this a negative connotation and smacks of the “Prohibition Era,” rather than the positive, by referring to smoke-free air.

I’d much prefer to have seen the headline “A win for smoke-free air in O’Fallon” or “Smoke-free air could be on O’Fallon, Mo. ballot in April,” because smoke-free air is what it is!

And why are smokers cast as “outcasts?” in the photo caption below? It’s the smoking which is antisocial and a danger when others are exposed to it, no different from drunken drivers who don’t just imperil themselves.

Note also the use of key words and phrases by legislators, originated by the tobacco industry in its long battle against smoke-free air laws:

Freedom” and “Choice,” and the recent argument about a level playing field enshrined in the need for a countywide, or better, a statewide law (which we already have, only it’s as weak as dishwater).

Smoking ban in O’Fallon, Mo., could be voted on in April

BY Mark Schlinkmann • mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7203 | (45) Comments | Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010 9:30 am

Smokers could soon be outcasts if any number of anti-smoking efforts gain traction. Erica Burrus photo

O’FALLON, Mo. • Smoking ban territory could expand to O’Fallon if voters in April approve a citywide ballot issue.

Smoke-Free O’Fallon has turned in a petition for the ballot issue and will brief the City Council today on its proposal to prohibit smoking in most indoor public places — including bars and restaurants.

If election officials verify that enough valid signatures were turned in, the council will have the option of allowing the public vote or passing a smoking ban itself. More than 700 signatures of registered voters were required but the petition group says it got in excess of 1,900 — all outside polling places at the Nov. 2 election.

Myrtle Chidester, the group’s chairwoman, said the main issue is secondhand smoke.

“We want our kids to be in a healthy environment; we want our workers to be in a healthy environment, ” said Chidester, a former smoker who has lung cancer.

Among critics is Councilman Jim Pepper, who said a smoking ban would infringe on the rights of business owners and potential customers to make their own decisions.

“What happened to our freedoms?” Pepper asked. “What happened to choice? Nonsmokers can either support or not support (a business) by whether they visit.”
Another skeptic is Mayor Bill Hennessy, who fears restaurants and bars in his city of more than 78,000 people would be at a disadvantage with competitors in nearby communities that allow smoking.

“I just feel it should be countywide, if not statewide,” he said.

The O’Fallon proposal is similar to a law that went into effect Oct. 1 in Lake Saint Louis, a much smaller city that was the first in St. Charles County to adopt a comprehensive smoking ban.

The County Council has talked about putting a countywide ban on the April ballot, but Chairman John White said Wednesday that probably won’t happen because of the county government’s current financial crunch. He said the county can’t afford the cost of running polls countywide in April.

O’Fallon already must have an election then to fill six council seats. White predicted that the County Council would put a countywide proposal on the ballot at a later election, perhaps in 2012.

A regional anti-smoking coalition official, Pat Lindsey, said O’Fallon was chosen for the petition drive because it has the biggest population in the county. Getting a ban passed in the largest city could spur other municipalities to follow, she said.
Hennessy said despite his opposition, he wouldn’t veto a ban passed by the council. He and Pepper also said it’s conceivable that the council might try to negotiate a revised version with the petition group. Pepper said, for example, he might support a bill allowing a longer phase-in period for businesses. The ballot issue calls for the ban to take effect in June.

In addition to Lake Saint Louis, bans are in effect in Clayton, Kirkwood, Arnold, Ballwin and in Illinois statewide. Bans in St. Louis County and St. Louis take effect Jan. 2. More restrictive versions go into effect in Brentwood on Jan. 1 and Creve Coeur on Jan. 2.

One response to “2010/11/18 P-D: “A win for smoking foes in O’Fallon”

  1. History repeats itself. Read the book – Spirits of America by Eric Burns. Then go straight to the chapter – Wheeler Dealer and His Men about The Prohibition movement of 100 years ago. Wayne Wheeler was a big Prohibitionist and he would fit right into place with Pat Lindsey and Myrtle Chidester. All of those people are sad, little control freaks.
    Once our economy collapses these people must be rebuked!

    Ted King

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