Monthly Archives: April 2011

2011-04-26 P-D: “City blocks second vote on O’Fallon, Mo., smoking ban”

This article by reporter Mark Schlinkmann, published in today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch on page A3, appears to signal the end of the effort by smoke-free air opponents to overturn O’Fallon’s recently-approved ordinance via a petition drive.

I received this comment on the article from a smoke-free air supporter which he permitted me to share:

“… I thought Pepper actually had helped our cause. You’ve got to admit, the guy is so wacko that I suspect some voters voted for the ordinance in reaction to him.

He has become a sideshow, kinda like Hannegan. Maybe the voters will put him out of his misery next time he’s up…

The idea that voters didn’t know what they were voting on is also specious. There was lots of publicity, and Pepper had been howling like an old yellow dog for a month or more.”

Readers comments on-line include the following from some opponents and supporters:

Bill Hannegan said on: April 26, 2011, 2:36 am
The O’Fallon smoking ban conflicts with definition of public places established by Missouri state law. I hope Councilman Pepper brings that up to the Council. … Most St. Charles County residents favor exemptions for smoking in bars and cocktail lounges, which this law does not allow.

Shrill Flanagan said on: April 26, 2011, 8:51 am
Hey ClydesdaleFan and Wandering Hebrew, me and Bill Hannigan (sic) don’t care what the voters think or what the science says. We want to smoke where we want to smoke. We will use the “business’ right to choose” argument until the very end. Second hand smoke is a myth. Anyone can fake being sick. We can’t help it if we are addicted to tobacco. After all, nicotine is the most addictive substance known to man – so don’t blame us! When you see us smoking, have a heart.

harleyrider1978 said on: April 26, 2011, 10:12 am
The Myth of second hand smoke

Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)…It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded.” -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA

edantes1701 said on: April 26, 2011, 11:06 am
Harleyrider… apparently the Surgeon General disagrees with the acting head of OSHA. Does the acting head of OSHA have a medical degree?
In 1986, the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that exposure to SHS can cause disease, including lung cancer, in non-smokers; simple separation of smoker and nonsmoker within the same air space does not eliminate exposure of nonsmokers to secondhand smoke. (3)
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Health Consequences of Involuntary Smoking: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, Center for Health Promotion and Education, Office on Smoking and Health, 1986. DHHS Publication No. (CDC) 87-8398.


I’d personally be interested in seeing a copy of the letter from Greg Watchman, Acting Sec’y, OSHA, quoted by harleyrider1978 above.

City blocks second vote on O’Fallon, Mo., smoking ban

BY MARK SCHLINKMANN • > 636-255-7203 | Posted: Tuesday, April 26, 2011 12:20 am | Comments (27 as of April 26, 2011, 11:09 am)

O’FALLON, Mo. • City officials Monday blocked an attempt to spur a second election on a smoking ban passed by voters three weeks ago.
         City Clerk Pam Clement said the city charter and ordinances don’t allow gathering of signatures for a referendum on a law passed through the initiative petition process, such as the smoking ban.
         “The power of referendum … encompasses only ordinances enacted by the City Council.” Clement said in a letter to Carrie Ellis of a group called Repeal the Ban. “It does not extend to ordinances enacted directly by the people of the city through initiative.”
         Clement issued her decision after consulting with City Attorney Kevin O’Keefe.
         Ellis said last week that many residents weren’t aware how far-reaching the ban was before this month’s election. The ban passed with almost 73 percent support.
         Ellis on Monday said “we will review our options and decide at that point how best to proceed.”
         However, Jim Mueller, a leader in a Veterans of Foreign Wars post who planned to work on the referendum effort, said, “We feel we’re kind of dead in the water.”
         The ban takes effect June 16.
         City Councilman Jim Pepper, an outspoken critic of the ban, repeated that he’ll try to get the council to make changes. He said it’s possible that critics would mount an initiative drive to amend it.

2011/04/22 SJ: “O’Fallon smoking ban may be challenged”

When you buy a packet of cigarettes it confers on you the right to smoke wherever you please. And if people don’t like it, whether they be employees or members of the public, they just have to find somewhere else to work or frequent.

It’s that simple!

At least, that seems to be the mindset of opponents of the recently approved O’Fallon smoke-free air law, despite its overwhelming approval by voters on April 5th. Opponents are eager to overturn the new law before it even goes into effect. Is that chutzpah or just nicotine addiction?

Related Stories
POKIN AROUND: Lingering toxins: The coming debate over third-hand smoke
IN OUR OPINION: Big decisions, small turnout

O’Fallon smoking ban may be challenged
Opponents organize to circulate repeal petition

By Raymond Castile > | Posted: Friday, April 22, 2011 6:02 pm

Dan Fitzgerald smokes a cigarette Friday at KT's Sports Bar and Restaurant in O'Fallon.

A petition drive could delay enforcement of O’Fallon’s new indoor smoking ban. Opponents are seeking to repeal the law that voters on April 5 approved by 72.6 percent.
         On Wednesday, a group called “Repeal the Ban” filed to circulate a referendum petition to repeal an ordinance prohibiting smoking in indoor workplaces and enclosed public spaces. The law is scheduled to take effect at 12:01 a.m. June 16.
         But according to rules outlined in O’Fallon’s city charter, the ordinance could be suspended from taking effect if a referendum petition challenging the law is filed with the city clerk. It would remain suspended until the repeal was put to a public vote.
         The three-member petition committee includes Carrie Ellis, Roman Bettag and Marina Bishop.
         Ellis, of O’Fallon, is leading the repeal effort. Ellis is an accounts payable clerk for a sheet metal company. She identifies herself as a non-smoker. Ellis said she tried to educate herself about the proposed ordinance before the April election, but became frustrated with the lack of information available. Many friends and neighbors did not even know the proposal was on the ballot, she said. Many voters probably did not realize how restrictive the bill was, she said.
         “I feel like, if there had been more details out front for voters, the outcome would have been different,” Ellis said.
         Craig Boring, American Cancer Society regional vice president, was one of the Smoke-Free O’Fallon committee members that organized the petition placing the smoking ban on the April ballot. Boring said smoking ban supporters talked to citizens throughout O’Fallon prior to the election, educating them about the ordinance. They received “a lot of positive feedback” that manifested itself on election day, he said. Since the ordinance’s victory, many people have expressed thanks, Boring said.
         “We are confident that this is what the people of O’Fallon really want,” he said Friday. “We are confident the citizens of O’Fallon will continue to support this in an overwhelming majority.”
         Boring said people trying to repeal the ban are acting within their rights under the city charter. But he and other smoke-free supporters wish opponents would have tried to have this conversation before the election, Boring said.
         O’Fallon Mayor Bill Hennessy on Thursday said he talked to the Smoke-Free O’Fallon petition committee before the election and asked them to compromise, allowing exemptions for certain businesses. The committee members refused, he said.
         The Repeal the Ban petitioners want to place the issue on the Nov. 8 ballot. To do that, they must submit the required signatures by June 19. But how many signatures are required? City and county officials disagree.
         O’Fallon Councilman Jim Pepper, Ward 2, said only 564 signatures are required — 7 percent of the votes cast in the last mayoral election. Pepper, who supports the repeal effort, on Thursday said organizers plan to collect at least a couple thousand signatures, just to be sure they have enough.
         But that might not cut it, according to Rich Chrismer, St. Charles County Election Authority director. Chrismer on Friday said he believes O’Fallon’s charter requires 7,095 signatures — 14 percent of the city’s total qualified voters. The signature requirement is greater because November would be a special election, Chrismer said. Pepper disagreed that November would be a special election.
         O’Fallon spokesman Tom Drabelle on Friday said city attorneys were examining these questions and would share their findings with the petitioners next week.
         Ellis said the petitioners would wait to hear from the city before deciding whether to proceed with their referendum or wait for another election to launch an initiative petition to enact a new ordinance.
         Chrismer said putting the repeal on the November ballot would cost O’Fallon at least $157,500. He said the city should plan for $170,000, to be safe.
         Most cities place municipal items on the April ballot, Chrismer said. The cities share the cost of the April election. But in November, O’Fallon would probably be the only city with a municipal ballot issue. The city would have to pay the entire cost of the special election, Chrismer said.
         Ellis said she does not take the expense lightly. But the petition process itself costs the city nothing, she said. If the petition fails to generate support, there would be nothing lost in trying — except for the petitioners’ time and effort, she said.
         O’Fallon business owners and fraternal organizations are joining Ellis in her fight. About 40 opponents of the smoking ban discussed their strategy Thursday night at VFW Post 5077 in O’Fallon. Several smoked throughout the discussion, something they would not be able to do if the ban takes effect.
         The VFW allows smoking in its members’ club. It also sets aside a smoking area during bingo games in its rental hall. The smoking ban would prohibit smoking in both areas. The VFW donates bingo proceeds to charity.
         Jim Mueller, the post’s legal adviser, said many bingo players and bar customers would go elsewhere.
         “In effect, it’s probably going to shut us down,” Mueller said Thursday.
         Mueller, a past national commander of the VFW, said he had put 40 years of his life into the organization. Other business owners had poured their life savings into their restaurants and bars, he said.
         “It is wrong to dictate to them how to conduct their business,” he said. “It should be their choice whether to allow smoking or not. I served in Vietnam and fought for these rights.”
         Mark Northrup, president of Elks Lodge 2587, said the smoking ban would also hurt his lodge’s bingo receipts, which total $3,000 a month. About 40 percent of the lodge’s bingo players smoke, he said, puffing on a cigar.
         Johnny Russo, co-owner of Here’s Johnny’s Bar and Grill in O’Fallon, said the ban would reduce his revenue. “I’ve got to do whatever I can to get it repealed,” he said. “We have 35 employees that are banking on us staying open.”
         Jackie Wilson owns Motley’s Pub in O’Fallon. Wilson said 90 percent of her bar customers smoke. Many have told her they plan to go to bars in St. Peters and Wentzville if the O’Fallon law takes effect.
         For 11 years, Sandy Brackman has tended bar at VFW Post 5077. If smoking is banned, Brackman said the club would close within a year.
         “That means I will lose my job,” she said. “Who is going to hire a 61-year-old bartender? I could become a greeter at Walmart, but my income will be cut in half.”

2011-04-11 SJ: “POKIN AROUND: Lingering toxins: The coming debate over third-hand smoke”

This story elicited quite a few responses, two of the first three being from smoking proponents, Tony Palazzolo and Bill Hannegan. Sandwiched between them was a reader starting off with a tongue-in-cheek comment but ending by reporting significant third-hand smoke problems because of a smoking office colleague.

I can attest to third-hand smoke being an occasional problem in the office where I once worked after smoking was no longer allowed but smoking breaks were permitted. I thought someone was smoking in the adjoining cubicle on one occasion only to discover, after discreetly looking over the partition, that it was a pipe smoker who’d just returned from a smoking break.

Here are the three reader comments followed by the article by Steve Pokin of the Suburban Journal.

Tony Palazzolo said on: April 12, 2011, 2:54 pm
Steve (Pokin)
You should look at the “study” that your writing about. It wasn’t a study in the strictest sense. It was actually a phone poll that they did after they coined the term. I can see why it confused people (that was the point) because they released the results like it was a medical study.
Of course that shouldn’t matter if you believe the latest Surgeon Generals Report that one whiff of tobacco smoke can kill a healthy young person. Or how officials gave credit to the smoking ban for lowering the St Louis City 2010 asthma ranking (the ban didn’t start till 2011).

Payin’ Attention said on: April 12, 2011, 4:35 pm
You’re in big trouble now Mr. Pokin….Councilman Jim Pepper does not believe in “second hand smoke” & the problems that it causes…He will not be happy when he hears of your “third hand smoke” column. And, here is another avenue for Bill Hannegan to enter his thoughts over and over and over…I don’t know anything about him but does he sell filtration systems? Third hand smoke does exist and I smell it everyday as a result of a work associate who enters my office from time to time. He is a great guy and unfortunately he is killing himself with two packs a day. He “oozes smoke” and none of us want him in our office. I finally told him how it is a problem for all of us but I’m the only one to have the nerve to tell him. His response, “when I’m dead and gone from this nicotine you won’t have the problem anymore”…How crazy, he knows it is killing him and he jokes about it. And he really doesn’t care if it offends anyone else or causes them to feel nauseous because of him. Duh?

Bill Hannegan said on: April 13, 2011, 2:20 am
Payin Attention, I do believe the best air filtration systems remove SHS toxins from bar air, and so I have promoted them as a solution to a contentious local issue, but I have never made a cent selling them. The thing to remember about 3rd hand smoke is the first principle of toxicology: The dose makes the poison. The exposure to concerning stuff from 3rd hand smoke isn’t enough to threaten anyone’s health.


Steve Pokin, Suburban Journals

POKIN AROUND: Lingering toxins: The coming debate over third-hand smoke

By Steve Pokin > | Posted: Monday, April 11, 2011 4:56 pm | Comments (33 as of April 20, 2011, 11:10 am)

On Friday morning the bug guy came to my house. My wife had called because a few days earlier our 20-year-old son awoke in dramatic fashion with a spider on his face.
         We’ve used the same exterminator over the years and all our “bug guys” have been prompt and courteous. This one was so polite he apologized for smelling like cigarette smoke.
         “I’ve just come from a home where I think even the dogs lit up,” he said.
His comment made me think about third-hand smoke.
         Forget about second-hand smoke, which is the smoke you actually see, whether floating off a cigarette or exhaled in puffs. That debate is passe. That train has left the station, in my view, taking a lung or two with it.
         Second-hand smoke is a proven health problem. The arguments pro and con — Should we or shouldn’t we ban smoking in public places? — have become old and predictable.
         If O’Fallon Councilman Jim Pepper wants to put his finger in the dike and try to overturn parts of Proposition S, an O’Fallon public smoking ban passed April 5 with a resounding 72.5 percent of the vote, more power to him.
         It’s admirable for him to advocate for business owners who argue, “It’s my place and I should be able to run it the way I want.”
         But is the public served when individual owners determine if patrons and employees should breathe air filled with a little arsenic, lead, cyanide and carbon monoxide?
         I think smoking in indoor public places someday will be banned across the nation.
         The battle on the horizon is third-hand smoke. That’s the residue that lingers long after the cigarette is out. It’s what you smell in the hair or on the clothes of someone who’s spent the last few hours on a bar stool in a smoky tavern.
         With third-hand smoke, it’s not the lit cigarette that delivers the toxins. It’s the smoker himself. Or the smoker’s car. Or apartment.
         Ever stepped into an elevator and smelled smoke? Hugged a relative and smelled smoke? Ever sat next to a co-worker who takes outdoor smoking breaks and then smelled his or her smoke?
         That’s third-hand smoke. That’s what our bug guy involuntarily brought into my house.
         I wonder, will there come a time when a bug guy, cable guy or plumber has a say as to whether he or she will work for hours in a home reeking of cigarette smoke?
         Dr. Jonathan Winickoff is an assistant professor, department of pediatrics, at Harvard Medical School. He authored a 2009 study on third-hand smoke. In fact, his research team coined the very phrase.
         “Smokers themselves are also contaminated … smokers actually emit toxins,” he says in a Jan. 6, 2009, story for Scientific American.
         There currently is no proven link between exposure to third-hand smoke and cancer or other diseases. But researchers are looking.
         Medical research already indicates that residue from cigarette smoke, including nicotine, can linger for days, even months on clothes, carpets and on walls.
         A San Diego State researcher tested apartments after smokers moved out and non-smoking families moved in. He reportedly found residue from cigarette smoke up to a year after the smoker had moved out. He found nicotine even after the apartments had been cleaned and painted.
         Coleen Breen, property manager at Time Centre apartments in St. Charles, told me that extra steps are taken to clean apartments where smokers have lived. A thermal fogger and an ozone generator remove nagging odors, often from cigarettes, occasionally from other sources, such as curry, used in cooking, she says.
         Cigarette smoke yellows the walls and ceilings where smokers have lived. At times, walls are not only freshly painted but they must be sealed, as well, to kill the persistent odor of cigarette smoke, she says.
         Smokers are not required to pay a higher security deposit, she says, but they are charged the extra cost to remove odors.
         Those studying third-hand smoke say infants and young children are most at risk, in part because they weigh less than adults and, as a result, ingested toxins cause greater harm.
         In addition, infants and young children spend more time on carpets, where residue lingers in dust particles, and are more likely to put unknown objects — that could have traces of nicotine on them — into their mouths.
         A smokers’ rights group called smokingLobby asks if the day will come when smokers will be discriminated against in employment and housing.
         Will the day come when a sensor that flags cigarette residue keeps smokers from boarding a city bus?
         I would not be surprised if already young parents are thinking long and hard about letting grandma and grandpa baby-sit — even when they’ve promised not to smoke around the baby.
         Today, the question is whether the baby sitter’s home, through years of smoking, is toxic.
         Or even sadder, has the baby sitter become toxic?

Steve Pokin is a columnist for the Suburban Journals. He can be reached at or by phone at 636-946-6111, ext. 239. His column is on Facebook at

What motivates smoke-free air opponents so strongly? Bid to repeal O’Fallon’s new law latest example.

Reminder: A comment for consideration must be accompanied by your full name. First name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

“Tell me: Why are the pro-tobacco guys almost always so much more energized?”

I posed the above question to members and supporters of Missouri GASP some monts ago after noting the volume of responses to a mogasp blog from opponents of smoke-free air. I received a detailed reply from Daniel K. Duncan, Director of Community Services at the St. Louis chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA-St. Louis).

It’s apropros, given the latest twist in the saga of efforts to obtain comprehensive smoke-free air in O’Fallon, Missouri, where opponents have announced plans to try and overturn the recently-approved law despite it having garnered nearly three-fourths of the vote in the April 5 election and before it has even taken effect.

Below is pasted a report by Mark Schlinkmann in yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, followed by Dan Duncan’s observations.

O’Fallon, Mo., smoking ban foes seek another election

BY MARK SCHLINKMANN • > 636-255-7203 | Posted: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 6:16 pm | Comments (104 as of April 21, 2011, 1:49 pm)

O’FALLON, Mo. • Just 15 days after voters passed a comprehensive smoking ban, opponents on Wednesday disclosed plans to gather signatures to spur another election on the issue.
         A group called Repeal The Ban notified the city of its intention to petition for a referendum on the ban at a special election in November.
         The ban – covering bars, restaurants and other indoor public places in St. Charles County’s largest city – is scheduled to take effect June 16. Supporters got it on the ballot by petition as well.
         None of the three people listed on the repeal group’s paperwork submitted to the city – Carrie Ellis, Roman Bettag and Marina          Bishop – could be reached for comment Wednesday.
         The ban, put on the ballot by a group called Smoke-Free O’Fallon, was approved by more than 72 percent of voters in the April 5 election.

Councilman Jim Pepper, O'Fallon

         City Councilman Jim Pepper, an outspoken opponent of the ban, said he supports the petition group’s goals but that he didn’t initiate the effort himself.
         He has said he would try to get the council to change the ban to allow more exemptions.
         Under the city charter, petitioners for a referendum or an initiative law at special elections must get more signatures than those seeking a vote at a regular election such as the one earlier this month.

Dan Duncan, NCADA-St. Louis, submitted the following comment:

Dan Duncan,
NCADA-St. Louis

You have asked why there’s so much stronger a response from those against smoke-free legislation as opposed to those who support smoke-free legislation efforts.
         For decades we have seen the exact same phenomenon as it relates to any substance of abuse or addiction, whether it be tobacco, alcohol or illicit drugs.
         Why is this?
         I think it pertains to the dynamic of denial and the self-protection that is part and parcel of any addiction. This self-protection mechanism is how an addiction survives. Challenge any kind of
addiction in any way and you can expect a strong, passionate (for lack of a better word) response. It doesn’t necessarily mean that those who support efforts to address addictions are less passionate, it’s just that there is not such an immediate or close perception of attack on something they want or need to perpetuate.
         Same thing essentially pertains to greed. Attack greed and see what happens. The individual who has greed and feels they have something to lose (that being money) is likewise going to push back if you do anything that might in any way cause them to have or generate less money. Protect the supply applies here, as well.
         I would say there are three basic groups or ‘types’ of individuals who are going to protest smoke-free efforts, that would be:

1) those addicted to nicotine
2) those who make money off of those addicted to nicotine
3) those individuals who genuinely feel their overall ‘rights’ are being attacked (although it’s obvious some of the addicted or those making money off the addicted will use the ‘rights’ ploy as a means to gen up rancor and support).

         There are many supporters who desire smoking not just be diminished, but to disappear or go away entirely. But are their passions so inflamed that they’re going to show up to testify, write letters to newspaper editors or blog about it? Most will not.
         They will, however, express their support if given the opportunity to cast a vote.

Daniel K. Duncan, LCSW
Director of Community Services
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA) – St. Louis Area

2011/03/14 RFT: “County Smoking Ban Exemptions On the Way Out, Tobacco-Free St. Louis Says”

Reminder: A comment for consideration must be accompanied by your full name. First name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

This story, which appeared last month in the Riverfront Times, has prompted a reaction from an O’Fallon councilman who opposes smoking restrictions. The councilman has now followed through on a threat to file a complaint with the IRS alleging that the not-for-profit group, Tobacco-Free St. Louis, is engaging in lobbying efforts which are forbidden under IRS rules. Pat Lindsey, who heads TFSTL and is a veteran in the field, defends the group’s actions as legitimate and within the scope of a recently awarded federal grant.

Smoking Bans
County Smoking Ban Exemptions On the Way Out, Tobacco-Free St. Louis Says
By Sarah Fenske, Mon., Mar. 14 2011 @ 12:24PM Comments (12)

County Executive Charlie Dooley: Is he about to get his way on smoking ban exemptions? Tobacco-Free St. Louis says yes.

The non-profit agency Tobacco Free St. Louis has a $545,000 contract with St. Louis County to — among other things — urge the county council to remove exemptions from the county smoking ban.
         As we reported last week, the contract is being paid with federal stimulus funds, raising questions about whether federal tax dollars are being used to pay for lobbying (which is strictly verboten). Non-profits are also barred under IRS rules from using any more than “insubstantial” portion of their income on lobbying efforts.


Pat Lindsey, TFMo STL

But Pat Lindsey, the agency’s director, tells Daily RFT that any questions about that part of the contract are moot. Getting rid of the exemptions, she implied, is already a done deal.
         “We don’t have to lobby,” she says. “There are meetings going on right now with [County Executive Charlie] Dooley and the county health department and the powers that be to remove the exemptions in the smoking ban.”
         Adds Lindsey, “We’re not involved.”
         So why was that included in the contract’s scope of work? Lindsey says that the Centers for Disease Control, which was the source of the federal grant funding the work, required that the county partner with an active coalition. Lindsey’s group, which is officially titled “Tobacco-Free Missouri — Greater St. Louis Coalition” was basically the only one around that fit the bill.
         She insists her agency never even considered doing any lobbying: “We can educate, but we don’t lobby.”
         And that’s a good thing: IRS regulations hold that a non-profit with annual expenditures of less than $500,000, which includes Tobacco-Free St. Louis, can spend no more than $100,000 annually on lobbying efforts. Considering the contract with St. Louis County is worth five times that, any lobbying could quickly put the agency’s non-profit status into jeopardy. (Bill Hannegan, director of Keep St. Louis Free, told Daily RFT last week he was thinking of filing a complaint over just that.)
         But Lindsey says her agency doesn’t intend to focus on the county council, despite the contract’s scope of work. Confident the exemptions are on their way out, she says cessation efforts will be the agency’s big focus. “It looks like we’re not going to have do much [about exemptions],” she says. “We’re going to be doing other things.”
         For the record, Lindsey tells Daily RFT she doesn’t think the county will remove the exemption that allows smoking in casinos any time soon. But, currently, the county allows smoking in bars where food sales are 25 percent or less of the total revenue. (The city ban only allows smoking if the bar is no larger than 2,000 square feet.) Dooley has indicated his unhappiness with the number of places being exempted — and Lindsey tells Daily RFT she’s heard the current level of food sale exemptions is on the chopping block.
         “Just the other day, a gentlemen called who said, ‘What’s the point of this ordinance when people who serve food are still allowing smoking?'” she reports. “We’ve received a lot of complaints.”

2011/04/08 RFT: “Tobacco-Free St. Louis Faces IRS Complaint Over Lobbying, Campaign Contribution”

Reminder: A comment for consideration must be accompanied by your full name. First name only or a pseudonym is not normally accepted. Please limit your comment to 1,000 characters and also avoid epithets and personal attacks.

This Riverfront Times story by reporter Sarah Fenske focuses on a complaint by O’Fallon Councilman Jim Pepper to the IRS over alleged illegal activities by the not-for-profit tobacco control group, Tobacco-Free St. Louis (TFSTL), led by Pat Lindsey. It follows a Riverfront Times story last month on the award to the group of funds for a campaign to help rein in smoking in the metro area.

That previous story, also noted below, follows this one for reference.

This attitude is symptomatic of some area legislators who cannot accept that secondhand smoke is an air pollutant which should be removed from public places and private workplaces. It also reveals the lengths to which individuals will go to harass those promoting smoke-free air.

Bill Hannegan is mentioned in the previous story as having told Daily RFT in March that he was also thinking of filing a similar complaint against TFSTL.

This reminds me of threatening e-mails sent to Missouri GASP last year by Bill Hannegan of KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE! and his supporter, Tony Palazzolo, warning of legal action against MoGASP after it conducted clandestine air quality measurements last September at the Double D Lounge in Brentwood in . See RFT 09/27/2010: “Clandestine Air-Quality Test Upsets Bar Owner, Smoking Ban Opponents”

Bill Hannegan sent me this e-mail after I’d alerted him to the test (e-mail addresses replaced by names below for privacy reasons):

From: Bill Hannegan
Subject: Re: DD’s Irish Pub & Karaoke, formerly Double D Lounge
Date: September 26, 2010 12:30:29 PM CDT
To: Martin Pion
Cc: Michael Marth, Scott Marth, Tony Palazzolo

Mr. Pion,

I have to warn you that there could be liability issues here. Be very careful about damaging the reputation of or injuring the business of the Double D Lounge or Marth Brothers with the results of tests conducted without the owner’s permission or cooperation.


Just the sort of friendly missive you’d expect from someone you’ve treated with respect, despite fundamental differences over secondhand smoke pollution.

Smoking Bans
Tobacco-Free St. Louis Faces IRS Complaint Over Lobbying, Campaign Contribution
By Sarah Fenske, Fri., Apr. 8 2011 @ 12:30PM 

Jim Pepper is complaining to the IRS that an anti-smoking agency has crossed the line.

O’Fallon Councilman Jim Pepper has followed through on his threat to complain to the IRS about the political work of Tobacco-Free St. Louis.
         Pepper yesterday filed a complaint with the IRS, charging that the non-profit organization, organized as a 501(c)3, is both engaged in excessive lobbying and involved with a political campaign. 501(c)3 organizations are only permitted to do an insubstantial amount of lobbying — a maximum of twenty percent of annual expenditures for small non-profits like Tobacco-Free St. Louis — or risk losing their non-profit status.
         As Daily RFT first reported March 8, Tobacco-Free St. Louis recently received a county contract (paid for by federal stimulus dollars, natch!) worth $545,000. The group was charged with “developing and implementing an education and advocacy plan to educate St. Louis County Council members about the need to remove exemptions from St. Louis County’s current smoke-free ordinance.”


Pat Lindsey, Tobacco-Free St. Louis

That sounded an awful lot like lobbying to us. But the group’s director, Pat Lindsey, has insisted to us that’s not the case. The exemptions to the county smoking ban are on the way out anyway, she told us — her group hasn’t lobbied, and no lobbying be needed.
         You can read her remarks in this blog post.
         Pepper saw our article; he told Daily RFT he was also concerned because the group donated money to the campaign to enact a strict smoking ban in O’Fallon.          Voters approved that ban on Tuesday, although Pepper has vowed to do whatever he can on the council to weaken it, water it down or otherwise castrate it.
         We’ll have more on this story as it develops, so stay tuned.

2011/04/07 P-D: “Smoke-free possible in St. Charles County”

This story from St. Charles County is welcome news, given how unwilling legislators there have been to acknowledge that secondhand smoke is a major public health and welfare issue. It suggests that areas surrounding St. Louis City and County will soon follow their historic lead and extend secondhand smoke protections to even more employees and members of the public.

A major sticking point remains casinos, which continue to get exempted on their gaming floors from smoke-free air laws, as proposed once more in this case. Given that secondhand smoke is a major health and welfare issue, everyone deserves protection, not just some.

Smoke-free possible in St. Charles County

BY MARK SCHLINKMANN > 636-255-7203 | Posted: Thursday, April 7, 2011 12:25 am | Comments (115 as of April 9, 2011, 11:58 am)

Don and Kay Young, along with Christy Dreiling and other Smoke Free O'Fallon supporters, celebrate Tuesday night after learning Proposition S had passed in O'Fallon. The measure will ban smoking indoors at most public businesses. Don Young is also celebrating being cancer free 18 years to the day on election day. He developed throat cancer due to smoking and lost his larynx and the ability to speak. ROY SYKES / JOURNAL

Related Stories
O’Fallon, Mo., voters approve smoking ban
Civic booster group, BJC finance O’Fallon, Mo., anti-smoking campaign
Smoking issue resurfaces at St. Charles County Council

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • A St. Charles County Council member says he’ll soon introduce a bill calling for a countywide vote next year on a smoking ban similar to one passed Tuesday in O’Fallon, the county’s biggest city.

Councilman Joe Cronin St. Paul

         Councilman Joe Cronin, R-St. Paul, said the size of the victory for the O’Fallon measure was a factor in his decision. “Seventy-two percent (support) in O’Fallon, that’s a bunch,” he said Wednesday. “This is a contentious issue and it ought to be decided by voters.”
         He added that most of the more than 20 people who contacted him regarding his recent proposal to require businesses to post signs explaining their policy on smoking urged him to instead put on the ballot a ban covering bars, restaurants and other enclosed public places.
         “Almost every comment I got was why mess with this,” Cronin said of the sign measure.
         Cronin said his new bill would call for a countywide vote at the regular August primary next year.
         He said the measure would exempt gaming floors at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles. He said he doesn’t believe the council would allow the measure to move forward without the exemption. St. Louis County allows smoking at the Harrah’s casino in Maryland Heights, Ameristar’s closest competitor. Cronin previously had opposed exempting Ameristar.
         Voters in two other Missouri cities — Springfield and Webb City near Joplin — also favored smoking bans Tuesday. The Webb City vote was a nonbinding advisory referendum. Meanwhile, a ban was defeated in Cape Girardeau.

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann

County Executive Steve Ehlmann was noncommittal Wednesday, saying he’s “keeping an open mind.”
         “Philosophically, I just have a problem with government telling people how to run their business,” Ehlmann said. However, he said, health and safety issues also need to be considered.
         The County Council last year discussed, but never took action on, scheduling a vote on a countywide ban.
         An anti-smoking coalition then launched an initiative petition drive to qualify the O’Fallon proposal for Tuesday’s ballot. Lake Saint Louis, a much smaller city, last October became the first municipality in the county to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

Cheryl Hibbeler

         Last year’s county effort was pushed by then-Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler, an O’Fallon Democrat defeated by Cronin in the November election.
         During the campaign, Cronin said the issue probably should be decided by voters but that he opposed a ban himself. He said he now supports a ban because “I learned more about the health risks.”

St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano

         On Wednesday, St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano and Michael Klinghammer, the St. Charles City Council president, said they expected their governing boards to discuss the issue in light of the O’Fallon vote.

Michael Klinghammer St. Charles City

         O’Fallon officials say their city’s ban is effective 60 days after the results are certified by county election officials. If that happens when expected, the ban will start June 13.

2011/03/14 P-D: “Smoking issue resurfaces at St. Charles County Council”

In this story by reporter Mark Schlinkmann, Councilman Joe Cronin is reportedly proposing that establishments simply put up “Smoking” or “No Smoking” signs as an “informational tool” before seriously tackling the issue of secondhand smoke pollution. He is evidently unaware that this is a ploy originated by the tobacco industry to fend off meaningful protections from secondhand smoke.

That contrasts with the aim of former Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler whom he defeated last November. Hibbeler wanted to put a comprehensive countywide smoke-free air ordinance on the ballot. While that’s second best to the council taking action itself, she clearly recognized that this was an important public health issue.

This article also recounts well-worn objections from council members, such as Paul Wynn, who referred to smoke-free air advocates as “zealots” and asked “Where does it end?”, echoing the tobacco industry’s hollow slippery slope argument. He and Council Chairman Joe Brazil view smoking as an individual right, evidently regardless of whether it harms others.

It’s amazing that such attitudes prevail this many years after the release of the first U.S. Surgeon General’s report on secondhand smoke in 1986, which drew these important conclusions:

1. Involuntary smoking is a cause of disease, including lung cancer, in health nonsmokers.

2. The children of parents who smoke, compared with the children of nonsmoking parents, have an increased frequency of respiratory infections, increased respiratory symptoms, and slightly smaller rates of increase in lung function as the lung matures.

3. The simple separation of smokers and nonsmokers within the same air space may reduce, but does not eliminate, the exposure of nonsmokers to environmental tobacco smoke.

It’s a case of not wanting to acknowledge the evidence and applying a different standard to this one behavior which harms others. Would the same council members take this view if I poked a pencil in their eye and argued I’m using a legal product and I have a right to use it any way I wish?

Smoking issue resurfaces at St. Charles County Council

BY MARK SCHLINKMANN • > 636-255-7203 | Posted: Monday, March 14, 2011 7:37 pm | Comments (108)

ST. CHARLES COUNTY • A County Council member wants to require bars, restaurants, stores and other businesses countywide to post signs explaining whether smoking is allowed or prohibited by the proprietor.

Councilman Joe Cronin St. Paul

         Councilman Joe Cronin, R-St. Paul, says he sees that as “baby steps” before the council eventually considers enacting a countywide ban on smoking in such establishments or putting such a measure before voters.
         “It’s more of an informational tool,” Cronin said in explaining his proposal at a council work session Monday night.
         He pointed out that Lake Saint Louis had passed a sign posting ordinance and limited ban in 2007 – three years before imposing a comprehensive prohibition that also applied to bars and restaurants. That went into effect last October.
         “It got the community talking,” he said of the initial Lake Saint Louis measure, which did bar smoking in stores, offices and some hotel rooms.
         In an article he wrote for an upcoming county government newsletter, he said his measure would give businesses “time to think about the dangers secondhand smoke presents to their customers and employees.”
         Cronin has yet to work out other details in his bill but said it may include a prohibition on smoking in elevators, day-care centers and some other places in which children are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Joe Brazil

         Cronin’s idea was panned Monday by two fellow Republicans on the council – Council Chairman Joe Brazil of Defiance and Paul Wynn of O’Fallon.

Paul Wynn

         “Where does it end?” Wynn asked.
         He predicted that anti-smoking “zealots” wouldn’t be satisfied with the sign-posting proposal.
         And if a countywide ban is passed, he said, that could spur later efforts to try to prohibit French fries, candy, soda and “anything that’s bad for you.”
         Wynn and Brazil regard smoking bans as an infringement on individual rights.
         Cronin has yet to formally introduce his measure so no vote was taken on the issue Monday night.

Cheryl Hibbeler

          Last spring, then-Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler, an O’Fallon Democrat defeated by Cronin in the November election, tried unsuccessfully to get the council to put a comprehensive countywide ban on the ballot.

John White
St. Charles County

         Councilman John White, R-St. Charles County, said Monday that he favors going ahead with a countywide election issue next year – either at the August primary or the November general election. White added that he might sponsor such a bill.
         Cronin, meanwhile, said “if we don’t put it on the ballot in 2012, you can bet they’ll be a petition drive like the one in O’Fallon” to force a countywide election on the issue.
         An anti-smoking petition effort succeeded in getting a comprehensive ban on the April 5 ballot in O’Fallon.
         Cronin, who owns a business in O’Fallon, predicted that the O’Fallon measure will pass easily.
         Last year when he was running for the council, Cronin said there probably should be a countywide election on the issue but that he personally opposed a government-imposed ban.
He said Monday he’s now open to considering the idea “if public opinion leans that way.”