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In today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the first “Letters to the Editor” is from St. Charles County Councilman Joe Cronin responding to criticism from a previous letter writer about the smoke-free air legislation he’s been advocating for the past 1-1/2 years. For context, I’ve also copied below the original letter prompting his reply.
Personally, I would prefer to see city and county councils tackle this issue by approving an ordinance instead of making it a ballot issue, which allows opponents with deep pockets, like casinos or the tobacco industry, the opportunity to dominate the playing field. That’s what representative government is all about: we elect representatives to do what is best for public health and welfare.
However, when that isn’t possible for political reasons, Councilman Cronin’s approach at least offers voters the chance to weigh in on this important issue. I just hope that St. Charles County voters are not bamboozled by the barrage of negativity this is likely to generate from opponents if it gets on the ballot.
Her statement; “Joe Cronin will do anything to get a total smoking ban in St. Charles County” is not supported by the record of the council. Never has the council proposed passing into law a smoking ban.
Every bill regarding this issue has proposed putting the passage of a smoke-free bill before the voters.
Additionally, every proposed ballot question to the voters has contained numerous exemptions that are the subject of debate and will be determined by the voters as well. Two St. Charles County municipalities have passed smoke-free laws, and three additional cities have passed resolutions asking that the county government bring this issue to the voters to decide. And I will do my best to see that the voters get to make this decision.
Joe Cronin — St. Paul
Following is the letter which prompted the above response containing many of the same old tired canards and accusations: wealth vs health, private business unfettered by regulation, “freedom of choice”, loss of tax revenue, and worst of all: the “nanny state.”
After following the developments over the weekend in regard to the smoking propositions that were going to be placed on the November ballot, it’s easy to reach this conclusion: Joe Cronin will do anything to get a total smoking ban in St. Charles County.
At this time, we all have the freedom to patronize any business we choose, whether it be a smoking facility or nonsmoking one. And now the St. Charles County Council, pressed by Joe Cronin, is trying to limit the freedoms of business owners by dictating the activities that can take place in those private businesses.
May I suggest that the council limit its restrictions to public buildings, and leave the small business owners alone. I live in St. Charles County, close to O’Fallon. I have witnessed the closing of five bar and grills in O’Fallon within the past year, since their smoking ban went into effect. That encompasses a whole lot of employees, as well as the business owners themselves who are no longer generating tax revenue for the city, state and county. Several of these former owners and employees have said that their business dropped off dramatically after the smoking ban went into effect. Obviously, a “nanny state smoking ban” resulted in more unemployment, more bankruptcies and less tax revenue, as well as more Missourians on government assistance.
In this pitiful economy, we need jobs! We should not allow the intentions of a few council members to dictate to the citizens what legal product can be used in private businesses.
Judy Cooper • St. Charles County