The following story by reporter Mark Schlinkmann appeared on page B1 of the Community section in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The excerpt below just focusses on the smoking issue.
Stacy Henry Reliford, Field Government Relations Director of the American Cancer Society in St. Louis, who is involved in this effort, was interviewed and her quote is highlighted below.
BY MARK SCHLINKMANN email@example.com > 636-255-7203 | Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:05 am | (19) Comments
City inspects MAC again: Smoking continues, sources say
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Smoking issue resurfaces at St. Charles County Council
ST. CHARLES COUNTY • “Yes Smoke-Free O’Fallon April 5” reads one set of signs. An opponent plans placards along the lines of “What’s Next, O’Fallon? Cheeseburgers?”
Voters in O’Fallon, St. Charles County’s largest city, will decide Tuesday whether their town joins the growing list of communities with smoking bans.
The measure, which has few exemptions and applies to all commercial bars and restaurants in the community of more than 79,000, is among a wide range of issues and candidate races on the ballot across the county.
Advocates of the smoking prohibition, who last fall submitted more than 1,900 signatures on petitions to get the issue on the ballot, are making telephone calls, sending mailings and putting up yard signs with a ‘smoke-free O’Fallon” message.
“When all places are covered, it’s easier to enforce and the public understands it better,” said Stacy Reliford, an official with the American Cancer Society who has been helping with the effort.
So far no organized opposition campaign has developed, but City Councilman Jim Pepper opposes the measure. “What happened to property rights and the right of self-determination among businesses?” he asked.
Pepper says he plans to put up a few signs on his own, including that “What’s Next, O’Fallon” message.
Phone calls to a few businesses last week turned up a range of opinions.
A sharp critic was Pat Edwards, who owns the P&R Lounge on North Main Street. “I think it stinks,” she said. “It will definitely hurt business because I’m a smoking bar. They’ll come in less.”
Calvin Hoelting, who helps manage Frontier Lanes, said “health-wise I think it’ll be better for everybody.”
He said, though, he doesn’t know how business at the bowling alley would be affected.
“We could lose a lot of loyal customers that smoke,” he said. “We might gain some, too.”
Maria Clayton, a bartender at a Show-Me’s restaurant on Highway K, says she believes business won’t suffer because nearby competitors also are in O’Fallon and would be bound by the same rules.
The measure, set to take effect June 4, is patterned after a law imposed in October in Lake Saint Louis — a much smaller municipality and the first part of the county to go smoke-free. Advocates hope approval in O’Fallon will add momentum toward passing a countywide ban.
Bans with exemptions for some bars took effect in January in St. Louis County and St. Louis. More restrictive versions are in place in Clayton, Kirkwood, Ballwin, Brentwood and Creve Coeur and in Illinois statewide.
Pepper said if the O’Fallon measure passes, he’ll try to get the City Council to change some provisions. One possibility, he said, is to exempt businesses that agree to maintain separately ventilated smoking and non-smoking sections. Sponsors say that won’t prevent harmful material from getting into non-smoking areas.
Residents in three other Missouri cities — Cape Girardeau, Springfield and Webb City near Joplin — also will vote Tuesday on a smoking ban.