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 mschlinkmann@post-dispatch.com > 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

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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.

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

  1. MoGasp, I know you’re not fond of this argument, and I fully agree with you that it is not MoGasp’s issue and there is no reason for MoGasp to be actively involved with it. But I feel strongly that it is quite reasonable for MoGasp to be expected to at least offer an opinion or statement of belief on the issue since the principle is so nearly identical to that which is at the base of MoGasp’s activities.

    You wrote, ” If secondhand smoke is a health issue, then everyone deserves protection, not just some.”

    Similarly, ” If malignant melanoma is a health issue, then everyone deserves protection, not just some.”

    So IN PRINCIPLE, and for the simple sake of consistency, would you offer a clear opinion on whether daytime patio dining should be outlawed, and, if not, why not. Remember: sunscreen and awnings provide only partial protection, and sufferers of xeroderma are at special risk if forced to work outside.

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

    mogasp response: I’m not going to extrapolate from mogasp’s stated goals to any other environmental issue. It would be highly inappropriate.

  2. mogasp response: “I’m not going to extrapolate from mogasp’s stated goals to any other environmental issue. It would be highly inappropriate.”

    Actually, no it would not. In your previous post you dismissed the “Slippery slope argument as hollow” You also brought up NIOSH recommendations. NIOSH relied heavily on the 2006 SG report and I have repeatedly shown its failings, here is the biggest one. http://www.gasdetection.com/news2/health_news_digest207.html There is a reason that OSHA is the regulating body and leaves the research to NIOSH. OSHA has to weigh the research with the law. If OSHA set the standards that anti-smokers propose they would have to apply the same standards as to low statistical significance to everything. Meaning most occupations would be banned including cooking,welding,parking attendants,foundry workers, etc etc etc. You see the constitution has this pesky little thing called the equal protection clause found in the 14th amendment. So we are indeed heading down the path to that slippery slope.

    Marshall P Keith

  3. MOGASP….why is a response inappropriate? should not all public health issues be important, if such is your stated goal?

  4. No one has ever actually claimed that one or 2 hours in a smoking restaurant or bar is a major public health problem, actually all the claims antismoking groups make are based on cherry picked spousal exposure studies, where exposure takes place all day and night for over 40-50 years. None contain any data on how much modern air cleaning technology reduces that purported risk.

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