2011/1/7 P-D: “Smoking’s in play at bowling alleys”

Plenty of sports metaphors in today’s story on bowling alleys but overall a very positive take on the issue, with some surprises.

For example, Gary Voss, executive director of the Greater St. Louis Bowling Proprietors Association, was among a group of vociferous bowling alley opponents of the smoke-free air bill when it was still being debated by St. Louis County Council in 2009 and asking for an exemption.

Now, he’s actually in favor of the law, saying such exemptions are a bad idea! No wonder Bill Hannegan is having apoplexy in the Comments section of the Post-Dispatch!

Bill Hannegan, KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE, & Gary Voss, Bowling Proprietors Assn. of St. Louis (R) 2009-10-26

Historical note: Chris Sommers and I squared off against Bill Hannegan and Gary Voss on the Mark Reardon Show on 2009-10-26, shortly before the Nov. 2 vote on Prop N. Chris is owner of the Pi Pizzeria chain in St. Louis. I took the above photo. in the studio during a program break.

Joe Edwards of University City is also quoted as being in favor of no exemptions:

“I didn’t even consider applying for an exemption,” said Joe Edwards, who owns the alleys. “I believe it really is a health issue. It’s so nice to have clean air in here.”

The times they definitely are a changing!

In the on-line St. Louis Post-Dispatch story there was also the link below to a story about new House Speaker, John Boehner, interviewed last night on CBS by Brian Williams and quizzed about his smoking:

House Speaker Boehner on smoking: ‘I am who I am’

I’m guessing there’s plenty of smoking going on in Speaker Boehner’s plus office on Capitol Hill.

Smoking’s in play at bowling alleys

BY PAUL HAMPEL • phampel@post-dispatch.com > 314-727-6234 | (54 at 10:51 am Jan. 7, 2011) Comments | Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 3:00 am

Poll results at 10:30 am, 2011-1-7

                         CLAYTON • The St. Louis County Department of Revenue appears to have rolled a gutter ball when it exempted some bowling alleys from a smoking ban that took effect on Jan. 2.
         The alleys had claimed that they met one of the county’s eligibility standards for an exemption in that they were “drinking establishments” with food sales that accounted for less than 25 percent of their income.
         However, the county classifies bowling alleys — along with sports pavilions, gymnasiums, health spas, boxing arenas, outdoor and indoor swimming pools, outdoor athletic fields, and outdoor and indoor roller and ice skating rinks — as ‘sports arenas,” where smoking is expressly prohibited by the smoking ban ordinance.
On Thursday, the county’s director of revenue, Eugene Leung, conceded that his staff jumped the gun in granting the exemptions.
         “In our haste to process everything, I don’t think we did it correctly,” Leung said. “We went to the definition of a drinking establishment rather than a sports arena.”
         The bowling alleys with exemptions are Concord Lanes in South County; Crestwood Bowl in Crestwood; Olivette Lanes in Olivette; Show Me Lanes in South County; Shrewsbury Lanes in Shrewsbury; and Sunset Lanes in Marlborough.
         Leung said that exemptions may also have been mistakenly granted to Pink Galleon Billiards & Games in northwestern St. Louis County and South County; to Concord Sports Clubs, an indoor sports facility in South County; and to two “entertainment centers,” Larry J’s in South County and Lamplighter Banquet Center in North County.
         Four other bowling alleys have exemption applications that are pending. They are Tropicana Lanes in Richmond Heights, Hazelwood Bowl in Hazelwood, Crest Bowl in Florissant and Saratoga Lanes in Maplewood.
         The county has begun sending health inspectors to those businesses. If the inspectors determine that the exemptions should be rescinded, the businesses will have the right to a hearing on the matter.
         A county Health Department spokesman said the exemptions would remain in effect pending the outcome of the hearings.
         Staff at two alleys, the Crestwood Bowl and Show Me Lanes, said Thursday that they were optimistic that they would be able to retain their exemptions.
         At the Crestwood Bowl, the bar is a separate room within the bowling alley.
         “We’re hoping that the fact that we have two doors that close the bar off from the alleys will let us allow smoking,” said employee Theresa Runge. “Otherwise, we’re going to have customers trying to go outside in their bowling shoes to smoke.”
         The bar at Show Me Lanes is having doors installed today that will close the bar off from the bowling alleys.
         Alley owner Nora Hoechstenbach said she was spending about $5,000 on the doors and the installation of smoke filters in an effort to comply with county rules.
         “A county inspector came in here last week and told us we would be in compliance if we installed doors at the bar,” she said. “I also bought smoke filters because I want to keep everyone happy, the smokers and nonsmokers alike.”


Gary Voss, executive director of the Greater St. Louis Bowling Proprietors Association, and owner of West County Lanes in Ellisville, said exemptions for bowling alleys were a bad idea.
The ban thus far has worked well at his bowling alley, Voss said. The turnout for league bowling weekdays did not change. On Sunday, two families came to bowl because the establishment was smoke free, he said.
         The smoking ban has also been embraced at Flamingo Bowl on Washington Avenue downtown and Pin-Up Bowl on Delmar Boulevard in the Loop.
         “I didn’t even consider applying for an exemption,” said Joe Edwards, who owns the alleys. “I believe it really is a health issue. It’s so nice to have clean air in here.”
         He said he thought the ban would help business. He has already had parents ask about children’s parties. “And even smokers have commented that it is so nice.”
         He said one woman told him the ban was going to reduce her dry-cleaning bill.
         “The reaction so far has been not just neutral, but positive,” Edwards said.
         Leung said that the county had changed its procedure for exemptions to include inspections beforehand.
         He also asked for the public’s patience in the early days of the new ban.
         “I have been told that in cities that issued these kinds of bans, the first 90 days are a shake-out period,” he said. “Various bureaucracies need to get accustomed to the laws, and those entities that are affected are always looking for loopholes in ways that the drafters of legislation may not have thought of.”

David Hunn and Phil Sutin of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

3 responses to “2011/1/7 P-D: “Smoking’s in play at bowling alleys”

  1. There’s something I don’t understand. The article says “Joe Edwards of University City is also quoted as being in favor of no exemptions: “I didn’t even consider applying for an exemption…. I believe it really is a health issue. It’s so nice to have clean air in here.”

    If Joe wanted “clean air” then why didn’t he ban smoking himself a long time ago? There was clearly no need for a law. After all, if the Antismokers are telling the truth about all the nonsmokers who will flock to businesses after a ban, then his place, being one of the only alleys banning it, would have been absolutely overflowing with patrons. He could have made a fortune!

    So why didn’t he?

    Michael J. McFadden,
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    • Michael, You’d have to ask Joe Edwards, but I’m hazarding a guess that he needed to be pushed for fear of offending his smoking patrons.
      A lot of private businesses in St. Louis declared themselves No Smoking in 1992 after a weak statewide Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect, even though if you read the fine print it didn’t require them to do so. The Act was a convenient way to implement a policy employers wanted without risking antagonizing their employees.

  2. Mogasp, Non smoking has always been the employers option, all over the country businesses went non-smoking on the job and they had smoking break rooms. This is not and never has been a health issue,. Weak statistical association does not prove causation. The vast majority in the anti smoking community (with a few exceptions, like yourself and Dr Siegel) is using junk science like that of third and fourth hand smoking.

    This is about a group of zealots who think they have the right to force everyone to live their way by any means possible. As to the poll, they don’t mean much. They can be skewed simply by how the questions are asked. We have a constitutional republic to protect the individual from the tyranny of the majority.

    P.S. feel free to critique my latest blog entry.
    Marshall P Keith

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