2011/2/15: Are St. Louis County businesses abiding by new smoke-free air law signage requirement?

While checking out Steve Patterson’s insightful St. Louis City blog, Urban Review STL, I came across this one he’d posted on January 5th, 2011:

Readers: Businesses Will Think They Are Grandfathered On New Smoke-Free Laws

In it Steve described going to a restaurant which lacked the required “No Smoking” symbol on the door which prompted him to run a reader’s poll on the subject, and follow up by surveying businesses on Washington Avenue for compliance. He found none displaying the requisite signage. That prompted me to do a quick spot check of a few businesses in downtown Ferguson on Florissant Rd. in North St. Louis County.

St. Louis County "No Smoking" sign with additional verbiage relating to ordinance added at bottom.

Just to recap, both St. Louis City’s and St. Louis County’s smoke-free air laws were approved after Proposition N received more than 65% of the vote on November 2, 2009, but didn’t take effect until January 2, 2010. It was said that the delay was to give bars time to seek and obtain an exemption.

All affected businesses are now expected to display either the internationally recognized “No Smoking” symbol or one like that approved by the St. Louis County Health Department, shown above.

I checked out two businesses in downtown Ferguson where I knew smoking had previously been allowed plus one that I knew to be smokefree. None complied with the law.

Cohen's Upholstery, 17 S. Florissant Rd. 63135
Photo: Jan. 5, 2011. Still no sign on Feb. 14.

The two businesses where smoking has been allowed in the past – Cohen’s Upholstery and Vincenzo’s Italian Ristorante – displayed no signage. The smoke-free restaurant had a small “No Smoking” sign on the inner door predating the ordinance but not one on the outer entry door as the ordinance requires.

It’s clearly more important for formerly smoking-permitted businesses to put up signage and remove ashtrays to comply with the law, since those with a history of being smoke-free aren’t going to deliberately flout the law.

Cohen’s Upholstery has a good reputation for its work. Unfortunately, both owners and employees smoke, and two pieces of furniture re-upholstered for me by Cohen’s smelled of tobacco smoke for months after taking them home.

Vincenzo's Italian Ristorante, 242 S. Florissant Rd. 63135.
Photo: Jan. 5, 2011. Still no sign Feb. 14.

I visited Vincenzo’s years ago to check it out when it first opened and discovered that as soon as you enter, there’s a bar on the right where smoking is allowed, just across the hall from the entrance to the restaurant.

It’s potentially a restaurant I’d like to patronize on occasions if it were smoke-free, so once I’m sure it is abiding by the new St. Louis County rules I hope to sample its cuisine.

The Thyme Table Cafe, 304 S. Florissant Rd. 63135

The Thyme Table Cafe offers reasonably priced and well-prepared midday meals with waitress service.

The Thyme Table inner door No Smoking sign

Owner Farzad Faramarzi, who regrettably passed away recently, also ran the Savoy Banquet Center nearby. He was an early booster of the City of Ferguson and his loss was mourned by many.

The Thyme Table started in a much smaller venue on Church Street about a mile further north. While in that location Mr. Faramarzi polled his patrons and found they overwhelmingly supported a smoke-free environment. That’s when his cafe went smoke-free, well before the smoke-free movement started to take hold in St. Louis.
On Thursday, January 27th, 2011, I was pleased to attend Ferguson City Council’s Annual Boards and Commissions Dinner as a member of the Traffic Commission, held at the Savoy. My concern with such events is always: will they be posted “No Smoking” on the entry door and will ashtrays be removed to alert attendees and ensure it’s a smoke-free event?

My experience is that without doing those two things, now required by law, smoking is likely to occur, especially in the bar area. I’ve even seen attendees pop outside to smoke while holding the emergency exit open with a foot, which results in secondhand smoke still migrating inside. With the signage on both the main entry door and the emergency exit and no ashtrays. no smoking occurred at this event.

Click either image below repeatedly to enlarge:

Close-up of No Smoking sign on Savoy main entry door

The Savoy Banquet & Entertainment Center, 119 S. Florissant Rd.


Immediately below is the link to St. Louis County’s Indoor Clean Air Code on the web and below that is reproduced the section listing both where smoking is now prohibited and where it is still allowed.

(Note: Not bolded in the original text but blue bolded here are the sections dealing with the removal of ashtrays and required “No Smoking” signage.)

http://www.stlouisco.com/HealthandWellness/IndoorCleanAirCode/

605.040 Prohibition of smoking in enclosed places of employment and other public places. —
1. It shall be unlawful for any person within an enclosed place of employment to possess lighted or heated smoking materials in any form, including but not limited to the possession of lighted or heated cigarettes, cigars, pipes or other tobacco products.
2. It shall be unlawful for any person within an enclosed public place, or within any other places hereinafter specified, to possess lighted or heated smoking materials in any form, including but not limited to the possession of lighted or heated cigarettes, cigars, pipes or other tobacco products, including but not limited to the following places:
a. Elevators in public buildings;
b. Restrooms in public buildings;
c. Libraries, educational facilities, childcare and adult day care facilities, museums, auditoriums, aquariums and art galleries;
d. Any health care facility, health clinic or ambulatory care facilities, including, but not limited to: laboratories associated with the rendition of health care treatment, hospitals, nursing homes, doctors’ offices and dentists’ offices;
e. Any indoor place of entertainment or recreation, including, but not limited to gymnasiums, theaters, concert halls, bingo halls, arenas and swimming pools;
f. Service lines;
g. Facilities primarily used for exhibiting a motion picture, stage, drama, lecture, musical recital or other similar performance;
h. Shopping malls or retail establishments;
i. Indoor and outdoor sports arenas;
j. Restaurants, including lounge and bar areas, except outdoor dining areas;
k. Convention facilities;
l. All indoor public areas and waiting rooms of public transportation facilities, including, but not limited to bus and mass transportation facilities;
m. Any other area used by the public or serving as a place of work;
n. Every room, chamber, place of meeting or public assembly, including school buildings under the control of any board, council, commission, committee, including, but not limited to joint committees, or agencies of the County or any political subdivision of the state during such time as a public meeting is in progress, to the extent such place is subject to the jurisdiction of the County;
o. All enclosed areas owned by the County;
p. Rooms in which meetings or hearings open to the public are held, except where such rooms are in a private residence;
q. Sidewalks, driveways and other open areas within fifteen (15) feet of the entry to any building owned or occupied by any governmental entity, or within fifteen (15) feet of the entry to any building open to the public; provided, however, that this entryway prohibition shall not apply within outside dining areas where smoking is permitted or to entries that are located less than fifty (50) feet from another public entry.
3. It shall be unlawful to dispose of smoking waste, or to place or maintain a receptacle for smoking waste, in an area in which smoking is prohibited under this chapter.
(O. No. 24105, 8-25-09)

605.050 Responsibilities of proprietors, owners and managers. —
1. It shall be unlawful for any person having control of a place listed in this chapter knowingly to permit, cause, suffer or allow any person to violate the provisions of this chapter. It shall be an affirmative defense to an alleged violation of this subsection that the person having control of a place has asked that the lighted or heated cigarette, cigar, pipe or other tobacco product be extinguished and asked the person to leave the establishment if that person has failed or refused to extinguish the lighted or heated cigarette, cigar, pipe or other tobacco product.

2. A person having control of a place shall clearly and conspicuously post “No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it) near all entrances where smoking is prohibited pursuant to this chapter. Such signage shall consist of letters not less than one inch in height.
3. It shall be the responsibility of employers to provide smoke-free workplaces for all employees.
4. All employers shall supply a written copy of the smoking policy upon request to any existing or prospective employee.
(O. No. 24105, 8-25-09)

605.060 Exceptions.
Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter to the contrary, the following shall not be subject to the smoking restrictions of this chapter:

a. Private residences, not serving as enclosed places of employment or enclosed public places;
b. Private clubs;
c. Performers on stage in a theatrical production, where smoking is required as part of the production;
d. Private and semi-private rooms in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, the residents of which are all smokers and have all requested the management of the facility to be placed in a room where smoking is permitted;
e. Retail establishments in which food is not prepared on the premises and where more than 60% of the volume of trade or business carried on is the sale of tobacco and tobacco-related products;
f. Permanently designated smoking rooms, not to exceed twenty percent of the guest rooms;
g. Cigar bars, provided such entity is in operation on or before the effective date of this chapter and provided that smoke does not infiltrate into areas where smoking is otherwise prohibited;
h. Casino gaming areas;
i. Drinking establishments which are in operation on or before the effective date of this chapter; provided, however, that no smoke infiltrates into areas where smoking is otherwise prohibited, and further provided that each such drinking establishment has posted in a place visible to the public from its exterior a certificate of exemption issued by the Department of Revenue pursuant to Section 605.076;
j. Areas designated and posted as smoking areas by the Airport Authority of Lambert St. Louis International Airport pursuant to Section 721.045, Title VII SLCRO 1974 as amended.
(O. No. 24105, 8-25-09)

One response to “2011/2/15: Are St. Louis County businesses abiding by new smoke-free air law signage requirement?

  1. I see that I am not alone at noticing the very lax and selective application of the new smoking bans. I have contacted the St Louis county health department and filed complaints, but have been lead to believe they have no intention of applying the ban sign requirements included in the bans approved by voters.

    The problem is that prejudiced selective application as well as not requiring public notification of “No Smoking” areas covered in the ban will be a severe detriment to prosecution of voilators, as well as provide cause for the courts to strike down the bans entirely.

    Imagine trying to prosecute offenders for running an intersection that has no stop sign. Or courts punishing offenders when numerous others are openly given de-facto exemption for political expediance.

    For political reasons, municipalities in the area will choose to scoff at the law unless forced to comply.

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