2011-03-30 P-D: “O’Fallon smoking ban, St. Charles mayor’s race highlight St. Charles County ballot”

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.

O’Fallon smoking ban, St. Charles mayor’s race highlight St. Charles County ballot

BY MARK SCHLINKMANN mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com > 636-255-7203 | Posted: Wednesday, March 30, 2011 12:05 am | (19) Comments

Related stories:
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Illinois House votes to re-light smoking in state’s casinos
Bill to amend St. Louis County’s smoking ban in nursing homes introduced
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.

Stacy Reliford
American Cancer Society

They say the measure will protect the health of customers and employees from second-hand smoke.
         “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.

Councilman Jim Pepper
O'Fallon City Council

         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.

7 responses to “2011-03-30 P-D: “O’Fallon smoking ban, St. Charles mayor’s race highlight St. Charles County ballot”

  1. The vast majority of the adults do not or very seldom patronize the hospitality
    sector on any given day
    Most of the people voting in a referendum are not the people who regularly
    support the bars and restaurants day in and day out.
    Why should these people make the decisions that should be made
    by the owners, staffs, and patrons about using a legal product on ‘private’ property?

    http://fightingback.homestead.com

    mogasp reply: This oft-repeated argument is irrational. Safety and health regulations shouldn’t depend on the issues you raise, which is only done when it comes to secondhand tobacco smoke pollution.
    In fact, elected local government officials SHOULD have enacted protective laws when it first became clear that SHS was an important health issue at least 25 years ago but too many have ducked their responsibility.
    The “using a legal product on ‘private’ property” argument is also a canard. There’s no basis for allowing a legal product when it harms others. And private property, when it’s open to the public for commerce, including the private workplace, is legitimately subject to government safety and health regulation.

  2. Interesting article. I see Stacy Reliford is getting paid to push the smoking ban. I wonder how many others might be getting paid with either charity dollars intended for research and treatment of diseases or perhaps even by tax dollars. It would be nice if there were resources available to get figures like that out in the open — for both sides.

    Think there’s an enterprising reporter in O’Fallon who might be up for examining the funding for personnel, literature, background training, and pro and antismoking TV ads broadcast into O’Fallon’s homes?

    After all, it would be nice to make sure that Big Tobacco wasn’t buying this race, eh?

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

    mogasp comment: You raise some interesting points. As regards the ACS helping to promote smoke-free air, it could be realistically argued that spending money on preventing disease is better than spending money on research to cure it.
    As regards Big Tobacco, at one time it was a given that they were involved in fighting even the most parochial effort to obtain smoke-free air. Following the Master Settlement Agreement and disbanding of the Tobacco Institute, that involvement is no longer clear. But that doesn’t mean the tobacco industry is to be trusted.

  3. MoGasp, in terms of the ACS, that would be fine as long as they were up front about how they spend their money when people are making contributions to them. My guess is that most contributors would prefer to see their money going into finding cures rather than into promoting smoking bans.

    As for trusting Big T, I agree. I wouldn’t trust BT in this any more than I would trust the groups pushing the ban. How about we demand that BOTH open their books and involvement in the ban fight fully, and that anti/pro smoking advertising on TV/Newspapers in O’Fallon be accounted for and equalized for a reasonable amount of time before a vote is taken?

    – MJM

    mogasp reply: While you may be right that most people assume the ACS devotes most of their money to research, which is also probably true, I don’t see their efforts at promoting smoke-free air as in any way unethical or contrary to their goals.

    As to trusting Big Tobacco, they are in a whole other league from the voluntary health agencies. While the latter has betrayed my trust on occasions by choosing the “ends justify the means” approach, or simply being inept, or occasionally even being deceitful, I would rate the present batch of individuals working in Missouri for the voluntaries that I know as being generally reliable. That includes Stacy Reliford of the ACS.

    Big Tobacco has been lying and deliberately deceiving the public from the time they first new that smoking (and subsequently secondhand smoke) was harmful. Their profits have always come first: even when it was injured smokers trying to obtain redress from the industry that harmed them. That’s still true today.

  4. MoGasp, as you know, we *deeply* disagree on the harmful nature of dilute secondary smoke in reasonably well ventilated situations. We know we disagree but still respect each other from across the fence. :> Recognizing that disagreement, let me take your second paragraph and rewrite it from my point of view… knowing that you disagree with it but hoping you’ll see that as a point of view it’s a valid reflection of your own:

    Antismokers have been lying and deliberately deceiving the public from the time they first realized that terrorizing people about ETS would be a powerful tool in reaching their goal of reducing smoking behavior. Their goal has always come first: even when it has injured individuals and even the fabric of society or when injured businesses have tried to obtain redress from the industry that harmed them. That’s still true today.

    Chasing idealism can be as destructive as chasing profits although superficially more laudable.

    – MJM

    mogasp comment: As you note, we have some fundamental disagreements, and it extends to your view of at least some in the tobacco control movement, of which MoGASP might be perceived as affiliated. I would agree that there is at least a grain of truth in such criticisms.

  5. mogasp reply: While you may be right that most people assume the ACS devotes most of their money to research, which is also probably true, I don’t see their efforts at promoting smoke-free air as in any way unethical or contrary to their goals.
    Unfortunately their goals are the same as BT’s and that is money.
    Dr Samuel S. Epstein wrote on what he calls Cancer gate.
    http://www.preventcancer.com/publications/cancer-gate.php

    He also writes on how they are motivated by money.
    http://www.preventcancer.com/losing/acs/wealthiest_links.htm

    It makes one wonder why they pulled funding on one of the largest ETS studies done which was finished by Enstrom/Kabat. Could it be that it didn’t suit their agenda?

    Marshall P Keith

  6. The 1992 EPA report claimed that smoke kills 53,000 nonsmokers each year. The 2006 Surgeon general’s report claims the same thing. If protecting the public is the goal of MOGASP and the ACS,, where is the evidence that the smoking bans enacted between 1992 and 2006 saved any lives? Mogasp said above that bans are like any other health regulation-they are not. Normally short term health risks such as food poisoning are regulated at the local level because Federal intervention would be too slow. Normally long term health risks such as the carcinogenicy of red #2 , are regulated Federally because they have the expertise to handle that. People did not get to vote to ban red#2 ,, they should not vote on hypothetical secondhand smoke risk either.

  7. MOGASP religiously believes the 1992 EPA report and the 2006 SG report – right? If so, both state that smoke kills about 53,000 nonsmokers each year. If all the bans passed between 1992 and 2006 actually did protect public health, then the 2006 number of nonsmokers’ deaths would be lower. Thus, there is no evidence that bans realistically do protect public health, as MOGASP claims above-and thus, MOGASP and the ACS should find useful ways to spend their money.

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