2011/02/11: Celebrating smoke-free air in formerly smokey O’Connell’s Pub, St. Louis City

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County Citizens for Cleaner Air co-chairs, Jane Suozzi and Charles Gatton, at the kickoff meeting on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009.

On Tuesday, September 29th, 2009, a group of citizens came together to form County Citizens for Cleaner Air to support Proposition-N, the ballot initiative to approve St. Louis County’s smoke-free air ordinance. It kicked off a hectic few weeks before the successful vote on Tuesday, November 3rd which eventually ushered in smoke-free air in most public places and workplaces in St. Louis City and County on January 2, 2011.

That original meeting was reported in the mogasp blog Post-Dispatch 10/14/2009: “Push to derail smoking ban begins” which also described opposition efforts to defeat Proposition-N.

Some of the individuals involved in the successful grass-roots campaign finally got to savor that victory.

To mark the law going into effect in the City of St. Louis on January 2, 2011, several members of County Citizens for Cleaner Air (CCCAir) gathered on Friday night, February 11th, 2011, at O’Connell’s Pub, a popular watering hole on Shaw Ave. just off of Kingshighway.

It was chosen because it offered good pub grub with specialties such as a massive roast beef sandwich, which I sampled. Before the law took effect the pub required a gas mask to enter for anyone who was smoke-sensitive.

On Friday night at 6 pm it was already crowded with a line of patrons waiting to be seated in the dining area but not a whiff of tobacco smoke.

What a difference a law can make!

Members of the CCCAir party were already holding a spot at the front of the waiting line when I arrived at 6 pm but it was 7 pm before the group was seated, and 7:45 pm before food was served, so if you arrive with an appetite, as I did, be patient! But it’s worth the wait and the quantity is so generous you’ll have plenty of leftovers to take home with you.

Some members of the original CCCAir group, such as Dr. Stuart Slavin of St. Louis University School of Public Health, Jean Loemker who helped set up the first of several meetings, and Ernie Wolf, former owner of a smoke-free St. Louis business, didn’t make it, but go to Prop-N passes by large majority! Supporters buoyed by success to see some photos taken at Pi Pizzeria on Manchester Rd. near Kirkwood the night the Prop-N votes were tallied.

Charles Gatton, co-chair of Prop-N, his spouse, and Jane Suozzi, the other co-chair, waiting at the head of the line in O'Connell's Pub.

Leann Chilton, BJC Healthcare, dropped by and treated Charles Gatton & spouse, Jane Suozzi and others to a drink.

Pat Lindsey from St. Louis University, Executive Director of Tobacco Free St. Louis, and Jane Suozzi in conversation

Marc Hartstein, Hart Communications, in conversation with former County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, whose bill led to the Prop-N vote. Marc provided invaluable analysis that helped focus limited resources prior to the vote.

Mrs. Gatton talking to Martha Bhattacharya, PhD, a postgraduate researcher at Washington University St. Louis, who was CCCAir Treasurer.

Marc Hartstein presenting framed memento of campaign to Martin Pion, president of MoGASP, which actively supported Prop-N.

17 responses to “2011/02/11: Celebrating smoke-free air in formerly smokey O’Connell’s Pub, St. Louis City

  1. Let me know when you all next meet at O’Connell’s and I’ll arrange to have your whole party thrown out! O’Connell’s hates your cause and I will encourage this establishment to join the MAC in defiance of your dumb law. I am sure O’Connell’s breathed a sigh of relief when you left. At that point people lit their smokes again and resumed their good time. I pledge to pay the first fine O’Connell’s incurs due to defiance of the smoking ban. And perhaps many more after that.

  2. What a sad little man!

  3. Have people visited O’Connell’s on the sly? Maybe you need to send his comment to O’Connell’s and see how they respond.

    Or move to Austin… we are smoke free for so long, people can’t remember when the law was passed.

  4. Mr Hannegan, what an angry man you are. If you do not like the law then work to have it changed as the proponents did to bring about this welcome change for the vast majority. Sorry, but your right to smoke ends in my right to breathe unpolluted air in an enclosed space.
    Do not bother with your tired arguments of going somewhere else: they do not hold water. I personally have patronized many places since the ban which I could not do before because of the smoke. I also have friends who are now eating regularly in StL rather than traveling to IL to avoid the pollution you insist on spewing. Thanks for the heads up on O’Connell’s. I can assure you if I patronize and see someone lighting up I will be calling the police; perhaps a stiff fine and closure for a few days may make them understand the consequences of irresponsible behavior.

    mogasp comment: This post allowed without last name for personal reasons explained off-line.

  5. Who is Bill Hannegan and why does he think he has the power to have people thrown out? Sounds like sour grapes to me.

  6. Odenwald, Gatton, Suozzi and Fraser! All booted out of office soon after teaming up with MOGASP. Christine, police don’t enforce the City ban. Rather Pam Walker’s Health Department, who all go home at 5.

    mogasp comment: Clearly, facts don’t matter to Mr. Hannegan and lies take just a few words. Countering them will take more:

    St. Louis County Republican Kurt Odenwald: Introduced his first smoke-free air bills in 1993, one making all county buildings smoke-free. He wasn’t defeated until 2008 during the a national Democratic upsurge, when Obama was elected president when Democrat Barbara Fraser defeated Odenwald, and was even more effective on the issue of SHS. Her efforts led to comprehensive St. Louis City and County smoke-free air ordinances, effective Jan. 2, 2011, much to Hannegan’s chagrin.

    Ballwin Alderman Charles Gatton’s sponsored the first comprehensive smoke-free air ordinance in metro St. Louis, which was a notable achievement. He says it was at most a minor factor in his later defeat.

    His fellow Alderman, Jane Suozze, was reelected several times before losing over a contentious Schnuck’s zoning issue.

    Facts matter, Mr. Hannegan, at least to some of us!

  7. Mr. Pion, political facts do matter. Every politician who worked with officially and publicly with MOGASP towards a Countywide smoking ban was defeated in their next election. Gatton blamed his defeat on our group pouring in to work against him in retribution. Read your own blog, Mr. Pion:

    “Charles Gatton, a former alderman who spearheaded the smoking ban legislation in Ballwin, said fallout from the ban was a factor in ending his political career in Ballwin. But he bounced back and he became a consultant for cities like Kirkwood, which wanted to outlaw indoor smoking.

    “I had people coming in from all over the area to campaign against me,” he said. “But Ballwin wound up being a trend setter.”


    mogasp reply: I’ll let Charles Gatton address that himself, if he chooses.

    • Hannegan states: “Every politician who worked with officially and publicly with MOGASP towards a Countywide smoking ban was defeated in their next election.”
      Gee Bill, I haven’t run for office in several years – just how was I defeated since November 2009? Looks to me like you were the one that got roundly defeated back then, not me. Or are you still working hard to spin your loss as a win? I note that three more municipalities have adopted smoking ordinances since then, despite your efforts – Lake St. Louis, Brentwood, and Creve Coeur. Not to mention the Community College District, Washington University, Fontbonne, UMSL – the list of places where your smoke isn’t welcome grows daily. It would seem if anyone is likely to get thrown out of places, it would be you. O’Connells was very happy with our group and it’s large bill – probably more than you have spent there in a year.

      Freedom to pollute vs Freedom to breath Clean Air. And there is Bill, on the wrong side every time.

      mogasp: character count =996. Thanks for keeping to the 1,000 character limit.

  8. I haven’t had a chance to visit O’Connell’s since the smoking ban. However I do know from talking to the manager that they were firmly against the ban before it was imposed. They do most of their bar business late night since they are one of the few 3am bars in the area. My guess is if they do allow it then its with that crowd. Most of their business is from the restaurant industry folk who come in after they close the local restaurants.
    Martin is right that facts do matter. Facts are that all of the politicians that were front and center of smoking bans are no longer politicians. Was it the main reason – probably not. Of course politics like business is a marginal business. Losing a few points on any issue is usually enough to lose the election.

    mogasp comment: Tony, you agree that these politician’s support for smoke-free air played either a marginal or no role in their defeat, yet you end by implying it may have done. That’s a bit disingenuous and I’m disappointed you would suggest it.

  9. Odenwald first pushed for a Countywide smoking ban in 2005 and again in 2006. He was voted out of office in late 2006, not 2008.

    mogasp reply: Thanks for pointing out this minor error. I went from memory, since it was a small detail. I just checked Barbara Fraser’s official website, which is still up, and there she writes in her biography at http://www.barbarafraser.com/about.php:
    “Barbara has proudly served as the Councilwoman of Saint Louis County’s Fifth District since 2007…” So according to that, we could both be considered wrong.
    However, what you have failed to address are your own errors, which amount to deliberate lies, repeated over and over again. You claim, falsely, that Ald. Gatton and Suozzi, and Councilman Odenwald and Councilwoman Fraser all lost their seats due to their support of smoke-free air and association with MoGASP.
    Totally false, Mr. Hannegan.

  10. Mr. Gatton, nothing is a much fun as working to restore freedom to local businesses. Nothing is as sad as getting one’s sense of self-importance by bullying those local businesses.

    Christine, I am working with the folks who rolled back the Dutch smoking ban on rolling back this St. Louis law. They tell me noncompliance like we are seeing at the MAC was an important part of the Dutch win.

    mogasp comment: Don’t misappropriate the word “freedom” the way the tobacco lobby has done. You are talking about the “freedom” to pollute. That isn’t the kind of freedom of which you can be proud.

  11. We campaigned heavily door-to-door in Ballwin vs Ald. Gatton in the 2006 election. We saw him as target # 1 due to his authorship of the Ballwin ban and his promotion of the County ban. I am sure we cost him at least the 50 votes he lost by. So how is my statement “totally false”? Plus I never said that “Ald. Gatton and Suozzi, and Councilman Odenwald and Councilwoman Fraser all lost their seats due to their support of smoke-free air and association with MoGASP.” Rather I wrote: “All booted out of office soon after teaming up with MOGASP.” I am not certain what caused the MOGASP politicians other than Gatton to lose. But certainly the smoking ban issue proved no political winner for them.

    mogasp comment: Although you may be correct in part, it’s clear that you’re weasling out of your original unfounded allegation.

  12. Mr. Pion, it is clear you are having trouble reading my posts as well as remembering what you have posted earlier on your own blog and recent local political history concerning smoking bans. Don’t blame your troubles on me. True, four losses may not be enough to establish a MOGASP Curse, but it certainly should give statewide politicians cause to be wary. A lobbyist on our side warned Barbara Fraser that pushing the smoking ban would not work out for her politically as it had not for Gatton and Odenwald. But she would not listen. After the losses of Suozzi and Fraser this past election, I believe other politicians will begin to listen.

    mogasp comment: You still haven’t addressed your misstatement, aka lies, in your earlier comment:
    “Every politician who worked with officially and publicly with MOGASP towards a Countywide smoking ban was defeated in their next election.” And you continue to propagate this myth in your follow-up comments and name Gatton, Suozzi, Odenwald, and Fraser as victims. That’s typical of a tobacco industry pawn. Is that how you’d describe yourself?

  13. Odenwald lost his election in November 2006. He held his position until January of 2007 when Barbara Fraser took office.

    What I will say about politicians supporting smoking bans. There is a difference between politicians that support them with a vote and those that front the issue. In the city, most citizen will have no idea which alderman voted for or against the ban.
    St Louis County voters don’t know who voted for and against. They just know who went on the radio and rallied for it. Odenwald was very public about pushing for the bans as was Fraser. I have two very good friends that live in Shrewsbury. Both voted against Odenwald because they didn’t like his zealotry. One even commented later that he voted one zealot out and another one in. Now two voters don’t represent the population. They do however represent a percentage of like minded people. That could be enough to lose an election.

  14. “Every politician who worked with officially and publicly with MOGASP towards a Countywide smoking ban was defeated in their next election.”

    This is an absolutely true statement. Odenwald worked for a countywide ban in 2005/2006 and was defeated in November 2006. Gatton worked for a countywide ban in 2005 /2006 and was defeated in 2006. Suozzi and Fraser led the fight for a countywide ban in 2009 and were both defeated in their next election. Please point out my lie.

    mogasp reply: Below is your original comment which is false on its face because it is clearly unfounded: that working with MoGASP is fatal to a politician’s career:

    “Bill Hannegan | February 15, 2011 at 4:37 am | Reply
    Odenwald, Gatton, Suozzi and Fraser! All booted out of office soon after teaming up with MOGASP.”

    This is simply untrue! We may have testified in favor of the ordinance but overall had very little input into the effort in Ballwin by Gatton and Suozzi. While we testified in support of Odenwald’s initiatives from the time he first started promoting smoke-free air legislation in 1993, that had nothing to do with his defeat by Fraser. Likewise, Fraser stepped down in order to run for a state Senate seat.

  15. Perhaps I have been confounding leadership in the campaign for a County smoking ban with MOGASP. How about this?: ” Odenwald, Gatton, Suozzi and Fraser! All booted out of office soon after assuming leadership roles in the campaign for a St. Louis County smoking ban.”

    mogasp comment: This qualifies as “Truthiness” not Truth.

  16. Former Alderman Gatton, you call me a “sad little man”. Well no, I am not sad. I have a good time fighting for freedom every day. “Little”? Maybe so. Honestly, aren’t almost all men little compared to you?

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