2011-11-28 Patch: “St. Charles County Council to Consider Smoking Ban Monday Night Smoke-free bills appear deadlocked at 3-3 ..”

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Councilwoman Nancy Matheny is evidently the swing vote on St. Charles County Council and the reason for the recent failure of legislative efforts by Councilman Joe Cronin to advance his smoke-free agenda. The O’Fallon Patch, an on-line news outlet, published a story providing a lot more insight into Councilwoman Nancy Matheny’s views on the subject of SHS. It doesn’t make her opposition to a comprehensive smoke-free air law any more acceptable though. I posted the following comment after reading this story:

3:07pm on Thursday, December 1, 2011

It’s a public health issue which has become deliberately confused by arguments having nothing to do with public health. We can thank Big Tobacco and its present-day surrogates for that.
As for this being a statewide issue, there has always been far too much opposition from entrenched tobacco interests to get more than a token statewide law, which is what we have now. That law doesn’t require a single place in the state to be smoke-free.
I know because initially Missouri GASP, of which I’m president, worked hard for many years at the state level and finally gave up and instead concentrated on local ordinances, which has proved to be far more successful.

St. Charles County Council to Consider Smoking Ban Monday Night
Smoke-free bills appear deadlocked at 3-3; possibility of an initiative petition looms over the meeting
November 28, 2011          Comments

The proposed St. Charles County smoking ban is likely to suffer a setback Monday night. Three council members support the countywide smoke-free ordinance and three members are opposed.
         Council member Paul Wynn, R-District 4, likely will be out of town and unable to vote. Wynn has also adamantly opposed smoke-free laws.
         A tie would send council members back to the drawing board or some residents out to begin gathering signatures for an initiative petition.

Councilwoman Nancy Matheny

         Councilwoman Nancy Matheny, R-District 3, said she has heard plenty from both sides of the issue over the past two weeks.
         “It always seems like more than it really is—I’ve probably had about 50 (phone calls and emails),” said Matheny, of Weldon Spring.
         Last spring, Matheny supported a smoking ban bill introduced by Councilman Joe Cronin, R-District 1. That bill, which was vetoed by County Executive Steve Ehlmann, had several exemptions for businesses, including the casino. However, when Cronin re-introduced the smoking ban, it had fewer exemptions and it separated out a casino exemption in a separate bill.
         “I don’t think I changed my vote,” Matheny said. “I am in favor of a smoking ban.”
         She said that as things stand now, the ban would hurt too many people, affecting the city of St. Charles, school districts and casino employees and other businesses.
         “Mostly, it’s the inequity,” Matheny said. “If we can’t do it statewide, as the County Executive says, it just picks winners and losers. You would have St. Louis County operating under one set of rules and St. Charles County under another set of rules. We need to have the same rules in a region at the very least.”
         She noted that Ameristar Casino invested $100 million in its St. Charles facility.
         “We voted back in the ‘90s to have them come in here. I don’t think we can just throw them under the bus now,” Matheny said.
         Taking the initiative?
         One possibility hanging over the heads of council members is an initiative petition.
         Stacy Reliford, field government relations director of the American Cancer Society in St. Louis, said it’s too soon to say whether St. Charles County residents will start an initiative petition drive to change the county charter assuming the smoking measure fails Monday.
         “I don’t think there’s been any final decision on that,” Reliford said. “You never know what’s going to happen in politics. The group will be prudent in its actions.”
         She said with the oncoming holiday season, the group is unlikely to take any immediate action.
         A middle road?
         In fact, Matheny said the council might not be done exploring variations on the smoking ban.
         “We have not sat down and discussed a smoking ban as a council,” Matheny said.
         She said there might be a middle-of-the-road proposal acceptable both to county council members and the county executive.
         One possibility would be banning smoking in restaurants, but not bars or the casino—essentially banning smoking in any establishment that admits people under age 21.
         “Most bars and the casino don’t allow anyone under 21 anyway, she said.
         However, Reliford said that those who support a smoke-free St. Charles County would oppose a law that applies only to establishments that allow children or those under age 21.
         “People 21 and older are affected by secondhand smoke,” Reliford said. “Plus, places that have that rule end up having enforcement issues because people are confused about which places have smoking bans.”
         “At the end of the day, there’s no public health benefit because not every place is smoke free,” Reliford added.

21 responses to “2011-11-28 Patch: “St. Charles County Council to Consider Smoking Ban Monday Night Smoke-free bills appear deadlocked at 3-3 ..”

  1. “At the end of the day, there’s no public health benefit because not every place is smoke free,” Reliford added.

    That makes no sense. The sort of smoking ban Councilman Matheny supports would ban smoking in most restaurants, except perhaps in the separately ventilated bar area or smoking room.

    mogasp comment: I wonder if this is an accurate quote by the reporter. I’ve asked Stacy Reliford but she doesn’t remember.

  2. Vivian Dietemann

    Having read the first paragraph I wonder how schools would not have a ban in place now because of that federal law I helped pass that says if schools/libraries accept federal funds they must be smoke free. Can’t remember the name of the law but Billy might remember.

    mogasp comment: Even without a specific local ordinance many places like schools have become smoke-free. It’s now the norm, in part thanks to you and Billy Williams.

  3. Vivian Dietemann

    Since I remembered I will add, it was the Pro-Children Act and schools and libraries that receive federal funds must be smoke-free and collective bargaining agreements may not be used to over ride the ban. When construction was going at Buder some yrs ago took a copy to the library and put an end to some smoking going on in the building by construction workers.

  4. MOGASP supports bans on smoking around children. Would MOGASP support the “over 21 only” public smoking rule Councilman Matheny suggests?

    mogasp reply: No, because it’s inconsistent with our published goals. (See https://mogasp.wordpress.com/about/)

  5. This is , and always will be, a public health issue. Bill Hannegan will try his best to dissuade everyone that it is about your “right” to smoke , that a ban will hurt business,and certain places should be exempted. By the way , ventilators do not work. He has evidently gotten to Ms. Matheny. The council members have taken an oath to protect the health and welfare of its constituents. This is an issue that gives them the opportunity to do just that , but , as with all elected officials — the most important item on their agenda is on reelection. I will try to change that if I am elected to the council. If you REALLY want to find out the real story –check the statistics on businesses and how they are affected. St.Charles county is 80% non-smokers. So,if you are a business, would you rather target your business to the 80% or the 20%. Think about it. Also, is it your right to smoke or is it your right not to smoke ?

    John Pellerito

  6. Alderman Pellerito, the bars, cigar stores and VFW Halls of St. Charles County convinced Nancy Matheny that Councilman Cronin’s Draconian smoking ban was a huge threat to them. Look, for instance, at what the strict Lake St. Louis smoking ban did to the Pub:

    Councilman Matheny said prior to her vote that she would back a compromise law that exempts “over 21” businesses and private clubs. Would you back such a reasonable compromise?

    mogasp comment: MoGASP does NOT consider this a reasonable compromise, unless by that you mean compromising employee’s health and welfare and the ability of ALL members of the public to access these premises.

  7. But would Alderman Pellerito back such an ordinance for St. Charles County?

  8. The 80/20 analogy while sounds good doesn’t work on an aggregate level. Yes, there are far more non-smokers then smokers. That is why there are far more non-smoking restaurants then smoking. Lets say that only 10% (made up number) of people like sushi. Is it logical to conclude that then there should be no sushi restaurants since a majority of people don’t like sushi?
    We know from ample economic studies that the affect on restaurants is far less then on bars. That is why restaurants have adopted smoke-free policies even when not forced by law. St Louis County pre-ban was over 70% smoke-free restaurants.
    Bars and Casinos are damaged by smoking bans. Of course people don’t go to a bar for their health.

    mogasp comment: People don’t go to many places open to the public for their health but in every case there is no reason why those venues shouldn’t be smoke-free. Your last sentence is a canard.
    All workplaces should be smoke-free to provide a safer work environment. Period.

  9. “All workplaces should be smoke-free to provide a safer work environment. Period.”
    Yes and all pools should have the water removed to make them safer. We should also remove alcohol from bars to make them safer. We should not allow baseballs to be thrown or hit with a bat as they may hit someone watching to make ballparks safer. Kids should not be allowed to play sports as sports are not safe.
    Just when do you think should government allow people to assume their own risk?

    mogasp comment: Water in pools is a necessary ingredient! SHS in businesses and the private workplace is NOT.

  10. VivianD wrote, “federal law I helped pass that says if schools/libraries accept federal funds they must be smoke free.”

    Vivian, I can’t seriously fault you for taking advantage of a weakness that our country has to promote your beliefs, but you do realize that sort of approach DOES in fact help to destroy our country and its freedoms, don’t you?

    It’s a Constitutional loophole the Founding Fathers never even considered because they never imagined people would give the fed. gvt. enough money to rule by blackmail. It hasn’t been used TOO widely yet (previous examples would be highway money for a 55 speed law or a 21 drinking law, and maybe the anti-school-segregation laws of the sixties?) but possible future abuses are VERY dangerous!

    If laws/regulations are important enough for the feds to overrule states’ rights, they’re important enough to go through proper channels (Constitutional Amendments or whatever is properly required). They should NOT be instituted through blackmail.

    – MJM

  11. John Pellerito wrote, “By the way, ventilators do not work.”

    Interesting. I’d never realized that. Mr. Pellerito, at the moment businesses are being forced to spend hundreds of millions of dollars ventilating all sorts of worksites — everything from restaurant kitchens to welding shops — when it actually doesn’t work?

    Why does OSHA keep insisting on such silly things then? Are they secretly ruled by a cabal of ventilation/filtration/tobacco/anti-welding/vegetarian-unfired-food corporate interests and radicals?

    Can you explain how that works? Or, alternatively, would you like to amend your statement?

    – MJM

    mogasp comment: Personally, companies like Honeywell – I believe they are one – are only too happy to offer ventilation “solutions” to business owners who certainly don’t have the technical expertise or knowledge to evaluate them.
    In addition, regrettably Bill Hannegan has been very actively pushing ventilation as an acceptable alternative to going smoke-free. This is an area where Bill and I have major disagreements.

  12. Alderman Pellerito is one of many who have won re-election after sponsoring a popular smoke-free air ordinance, while the opponents in Lake St. Louis did not fair so well. I look forward to supporting his election to St. Charles County Council.

  13. Pellerito may have a been an exception to the trend of St. Louis smoking ban leaders being defeated in their next contested election. The only other example would be Councilwoman Beth Kistner of Creve Coeur who won a close election after sponsoring the Creve Coeur smoking ban. Smoking ban opponents though were pretty happy with her when she grandfathered in existing private clubs and her ban only included one establishment not already included in the existing County ban.

    mogasp comment: I’m hoping to address this issue, as soon as time permits, because I disagree factually with Mr. Hannegan’s claim about the so-called “MoGASP curse”.

  14. Tony, I am surprised that MoGasp has expressed a willingness here to comment on work conditions in pools, but I have to agree with him:

    “Water in pools is a necessary ingredient!”

    And this is also true:

    “SHS in businesses and the private workplace is NOT.”

    But now that MoGasp is discussing pool safety, it is time for him to weigh to address the fact that: OUTDOOR pools are neither inherent nor necessary to the swimming experience. So, since MoGasp’s “water” being “inherent” argument is the prime justification for allowing pools, and since that water could be well provided in safe unradiated indoor pools, I think MoGasp may finally have to make a statement to the effect that outdoor pools and dining services need to be outlawed for the sake of the workers as well. Otherwise his stance would seem inconsistent, and no activist group can afford to be inconsistent in its public stands if it wants to remain viable.

    – MJM

    mogasp comment: I was expressing a personal opinion, not MoGASP’s official position on swimming pools, about which of necessity it has none.

  15. MoGasp, you, I do not see why you are concerned with “evaluation” of ventilation systems if indeed you simply agree they do not work in getting rid of the sort of carcinogens that are produced in combustion processes such as those involved in cooking and smoking. Clearly, if the antismoking concerns are correct, and merely separating rooms and having high quality ventilation systems “do not work” in getting rid of the vastly greater amounts of air pollution produced by frying meats and fish and cooking fries in bubbling vats of oil …

    Then the cooking must be stopped. Although businesses that are willing to move the cooking portion of their business, sans workers, over to a separate building should still be tolerated. I think that would solve the concerns of bot MoGasp and Mr. Pellerito, true?

    – MJM

    mogasp (ironic) reply: Your description conjures up a witch’s incantation from Shakespeare’s Macbeth:
    “Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”
    They didn’t have any cigarette smoking back then but they sure had a lot more other sources of air pollution. We can be thankful we live in the 21st century. Now if only we could get rid of SHS…!

  16. Actually MoGASP I was speaking to the idea of letting adults assume risk. Yes its necessary for water for a pool. Its the point of assuming risk. Every year over 3000 men, women and children drown in the US. I spend a lot of time over the summer at the pool. Why should I be allowed to assume the risk of swimming and not going to smoky bar. Why should we put life guards in harms way as they can drown just as easily (not to mention the massive exposure to the sun). A swimming pool is not necessary. Should we not treat pools as you want bars treated?

    mogasp reply: Obviously, one cannot eliminate risk entirely, but we can and generally do try and minimize it when it comes to the workplace and other public places.
    Eliminating SHS does not alter the fundamental nature of these venues, e.g. one goes to a bar to drink, to a restaurant to eat, to a supermarket for groceries and the like. In contrast, removing the water from a swimming pool does! You are confusing the argument, deliberately or otherwise.

  17. Thank you for the response and the fun quote:

    “Double, double toil and trouble;
    Fire burn, and caldron bubble.”

    If you went to a high class theater, they might even have a cauldron onstage with a REAL campfire built under it pouring out all sorts of smoke! Should such a thing be illegal? (We’ll assume it meets necessary fire-safety codes here.)

    Also: MoGasp’s reply to Tony about pools was,officially, “one cannot eliminate risk entirely, but we can and generally do try and minimize it when it comes to the workplace…” So why is it so hard to come out for minimizing risk by eliminating outdoor dining and pools? It’s cost free, obviously minimizes risk to workers, does not remove anything inherent to dining to swimming, and only mildly inconveniences a very small minority of the population.

    I guess the real question is: Does MoGasp officially always approve of minimizing worker risk when such can be done without destroying the inherent and necessary qualities of a primary activity?

    – MJM

    mogasp comment: An asthmatic lady who is highly smoke-sensitive wrote to me recently that she had to leave a stage performance because of actual smoking on-stage.

  18. Mogasp, I am not at all surprised that instances such as you note of a highly smoke-sensitive lady feeling forced to leave because of stage smoking exist, but I would say that it is **FAR** more likely that she had to leave because of a psychogenic reaction than a physical reaction. Otherwise she would literally not be able to survive walking down a city sidewalk and she would probably have died many years ago from hundreds or thousands of exposure that were far more intense.

    That being said, I will admit to the possibility that this particular case might have involved some type of off-off-off-Broadway performance in an unventilated basement with an audience of 50 folks crammed in with a dozen actors performing a chain-smoking rendition of “12 Angry Men.”

    My guess is it’s the first instance and that cause of the woman’s distress had far more to do with Antismokers than with smokers. Remember: I used to have similar experiences with gasoline at gas stations. It can FEEL very real.

    – MJM

    mogasp reply: I’m not willing to second-guess or minimize her distress or sensitivity to SHS exposure. I certainly sympathize with her.

  19. MoGasp, in terms of an individual exposure and situation, there’s never any real way to judge, and in particular I would not expect or ask you to judge her in any critical way since she was obviously writing to you for help and support.

    My posting was simply pointing out what I believe to be the frequent or general case out there. I don’t have the study at hand at the moment, but you may be aware of research they’ve done with allergic-asthmatics where they’ve given them inhalers with either allergens or a placebo and told them that they were being given their sensitive allergens. A very significant proportion (20%? 40%? I forget.) of the placebo receivers not only experienced symptoms, but even exhibited the blood and cellular reactions that would normally have accompanied exposure to the actual allergen.

    I’m sure we disagree on this point MoGasp, but I strongly believe that the antismoking movement has caused far more asthmatic attacks than smokers have in the last ten years.

    – MJM

  20. Quoted elsewhere by “Walt”


    “Luparello et al(1968) measured changes in airway resistance directly by body plethysmography. They showed that asthmatic subjects reacted with increased airway resistance when given nebulized saline to inhale and told it was the allergen … associated with his attacks. 19 of 40 asthmatics showed a significant increase in airway resistance and 12 developed attacks of bronchial spasm which were reversed with an inhaled saline placebo. … In another study, isoprenaline and carbachol were each presented to 20 asthmatic subjects by inhalation. Each drug was presented twice under double-blind conditions. [First] the subject was told that it was a bronchodilator that would open his airways and make it easier to breathe and in the other, he was told it was a bronchoconstrictor. The suggestion produced significant changes in response to the drugs in the direction that had been suggested.” (continued…)

  21. This leads the author (Cohen) to opine about studies on the subject of conditioning that showed that hay fever sufferers who knew a particular flower caused attacks could get an attack by merely being shown a paper imitation of that flower. Citing Vaughn, 1939 and an 1886 (not a typo) study by MacKenzie.

    Per “Anxiety Reduction in Asthma” Kinsman et al, Psychcosom Res, 1980

    Click to access 397.pdf

    Luparello’s findings were repeated by:

    Spector et al “Response of asthmatics to methacholine and suggestion,” Am Rev Resp Dis, 113; 1976

    Strupp et al, “Effects of suggestion on total respiratory resistance in mild asthmatics,” Psychosom Res, 18; 1974

    Phillipp et al “Suggestion and relaxation in asthmatics,” Psychosom Res 16; 1972

    (Above offered in support of my contention that the anxiety/stress/fear brought on by the antismoking movement may actually cause MORE attacks today than smoke.)

    – MJM

    mogasp comment: Your thesis may or may not have validity. You are quoting research dating to the 1970s and I don’t know if those conclusions are still current.
    The paper you reference in your previous comment actually opens with a quote from Moses Maimonides (1135-1204)! That could mean that little has changed in the understanding of this disease or that it is complex and our knowledge has improved. It may well be that in some cases psychological factors play a role, but I don’t view the evidence you present as a valid response to efforts to provide smoke-free air.
    I know several very smoke-sensitive asthmatics and also a person who is a former smoker, now a laryngectomy survivor, and I don’t view any of them as having been influenced by “the antismoking movement.” On the contrary, they have become active in promoting smoke-free air as a result of the effect of SHS on their health and welfare.

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