Although members of O’Fallon’s city council appear to be ducking their responsibilities on this health and safety issue, at least the citizen’s will get a chance to vote on it in April, 2011, thanks to the efforts of supporters of smoke-free air.
I liked this quote from the story, in which I highlighted a remark that hits the bullseye:
Myrtle Chidester, one of the leaders of Smoke-Free O’Fallon, said she and her husband moved to O’Fallon from California about six years ago. “We love the seasons. We love the people,” she said. “The one thing we don’t love is having to deal with the secondhand smoke.“
I can relate to that! I also liked the on-line rebuttals from former Ballwin Alderman Charles Gatton to some of Bill Hannegan’s revisionist statements about Ballwin and its smoke-free air law. Mr. Hannegan kicked off:
Bill Hannegan said on: December 23, 2010, 12:54 pm
Got the T-Shirt, you had to enforce it three places who were all terrified of Gatton, Mayor Young and the other aldermanic bullies. One owner sold out, one owner closed, and one establishment suspiciously burnt down. Talk about enforcement without business loss!
And this was the reply:
CGatton said on: December 23, 2010, 4:09 pm
Terrified of me, Bill? Wowsers! I’m friendly with the owners of the French Quarter, and eat there regularly. It is still in the same family ownership, the guy you are referring to was forced out by his family, not me. Frick’s – they were failing long before we started talking about the ordinance. I’m friendly with one of the former owners, who told me I helped him quit smoking. Elsa’s fire? Boy, you really don’t know the buzz in Ballwin about that. See another comment for more…
CGatton said on: December 23, 2010, 4:15 pm
Mayor Young? Well, he may have thought of himself as a bully, but he’s the one who held a “secret” meeting with restaurant owners and pledged to overturn the ban. He forgot he was for it before he was against it. And you think I bullied Belli? He asked for and got a one year hold on the ordinance going into effect. Meantime, he lost his lunch business when a major corporation left the area, and Chesterfield Valley took much of his dinner business. He never seems to remember that. Just facts.
A good letter in support appeared in the St. Charles Suburban Journal the same day as the council meeting:
Letter to the editor
Make O’Fallon smoke-free
I don’t know why it is politicians always worry about businesses when contemplating smoke-free ordinances. Experience has shown businesses are not hurt by smoke-free ordinances.
However, after 30 years as a respiratory therapist I can tell you I have seen over and over the damage to health which tobacco causes. Innocent bystanders should not be subjected to secondhand smoke. Smoke-free ordinances are about health. Period.
So come on, O’Fallon. Whole countries have enacted clean-air legislation. Some of your surrounding towns have enacted clean-air legislation. O’Fallon City Council, your people have spoken with 1,900 signatures to have this placed on the ballot. Do you hear your people?
Pam Murphy, Lake Saint Louis
My only reservation about this letter: It might have been better to urge the council to act rather than simply ducking the issue and placing it on the ballot instead, but chances are it would have made no difference. We’re dealing with elected officials who cannot conceive of this as an important public health issue on which they should act.
BY SHANE ANTHONY • firstname.lastname@example.org > 636-255-7209 | (52) Comments | Posted: Thursday, December 23, 2010 12:25 am
Petitions seeking O’Fallon, Mo., smoking ban qualify for April ballot
Compromise rejected on O’Fallon smoking ban effort
Petitioners seek smoking ban in O’Fallon
O’FALLON, MO. • A smoking ban proposal appears headed for a vote by O’Fallon residents on April 5.
The City Council, which held a public forum on the issue Wednesday night, would have to have an emergency meeting to approve the petitioners’ measure themselves. If the council does not vote before Jan. 11, the issue automatically will appear on the April 5 ballot.
Most of the 19 speakers at the public forum supported the measure. Proponents said they wanted to protect residents, business employees and patrons from secondhand smoke.
Myrtle Chidester, one of the leaders of Smoke-Free O’Fallon, said she and her husband moved to O’Fallon from California about six years ago. “We love the seasons. We love the people,” she said. “The one thing we don’t love is having to deal with the secondhand smoke.”
James Worman, another ban supporter, said he does not want to be subjected to secondhand smoke when he goes out. He said he would be OK with private clubs allowing smoking.
John Callahan, one of two people who spoke against the proposal, said he believes the measure could hurt businesses and infringe on personal choices. “I think that the individual needs to have the personal freedom to make up their own mind,” he said.
Noal Roos, the other speaker who opposed the ban, said he feared it could cost jobs. “It’s a separation that needs to be looked at, not a complete ban,” he said. “It’s too detrimental to the economy.”
Ban supporters cited statistics saying secondhand smoke causes health risks. They said a ban could increase revenue for local businesses by encouraging nonsmokers to patronize them. They said a ban also could help smokers quit.
One speaker took a relatively neutral position, saying he wanted to see the voters decide the issue.
It appears that is what will happen. The City Council has until Jan. 11 to approve the petitioners’ language or let it appear on the ballot. The next regular meeting isn’t until Jan. 13, and, while council members gave the petition a first reading, no one called for a special session.
The ban would prohibit smoking in most enclosed public places, including all bars and restaurants.