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The sponsor of this bill may not acknowledge it but she is essentially acting as a surrogate for the tobacco lobby. If enacted, this bill would set the cause of public health back decades, and put the gains painstakingly achieved around the state over several decades back to square one.
I cannot think of more disastrous legislation, apart from the effort by Tobacco Institute lobbyist, John Britton, in 1987 who colluded with the voluntary health agencies, American Cancer, Heart and Lung, and Susan Sherman, lobbyist for the State Department of Health, in attempting to pass a very weak statewide Clean Indoor Air Act superseding all stronger longer ordinances by the inclusion of a preemption clause.
This time it may be the casino industry which is behind this effort and who seem to have supplanted the tobacco industry when it comes to opposing smoke-free air ordinances. Their goal is to maintain smoking in their gaming areas based on an unfounded fear of losing revenue from smoking clients.
The story below by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Mark Schlinkmann, quotes Stan Cowan, who gave the following testimony opposing the bill on Tuesday, April 18, before the Local Government Committee, which was considering this legislation sponsored by Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles County:Testimony on HB 1021
Stanley R. Cowan, R.S.
Having dedicated 38 years to protecting and improving public health, I’ve had experience in efforts to reduce preventable diseases and premature deaths. These included investigating food, water and vector-borne disease outbreaks; assuring food service operators and food manufacturers provide wholesome, unadulterated and sanitary food products; implementing standards for safe private drinking water supplies and proper onsite sewage systems; and investigation of possible cancer clusters in communities among other activities.
By far, the leading cause of preventable diseases and premature deaths in Missouri is tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke. It is responsible for an estimated 10,000 deaths in Missouri every year – 27 deaths every day.
HB 1021 is against public health and should be turned away for several reasons:
• Intrusive into local control
– Local government knows better than state government how to apportion local tax revenues. This bill would remove local governmental control over apportionment of local property and sales taxes that fund road and bridge maintenance, libraries, fire districts, ambulance districts and other public services.
– There is no precedent for a state law to direct how local government shall apportion their local tax revenues based on whether a non-relevant local ordinance is or will be in effect.
There is no logical rationale for forcing local governments to redirect local property and county sales tax revenues to school districts solely based on the existence of a local ordinance for smokefree workplaces and public places in the community.
• May not be constitutional
When a city council or voters enact a smokefree ordinance, this bill would require county, not city, sales taxes to be directed toward school districts. It is likely without precedent that an action by a city would mandate a budgetary consequence not to the city government, but to the county government.
This could be a violation of the Hancock Amendment when the state, by mandating that local property tax and county sales tax revenues be redirected, would be creating possible underfunding of non-school district budget items without providing replacement funding.
• Smokefree ordinances are beneficial
Numerous scientific studies have shown reduced hospitalization rates for heart attacks, stroke, asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, and pneumonia after communities have implemented smokefree ordinances.1,2,3
Besides saving human suffering, the reductions of hospitalizations are also a savings in preventable health care costs to families, to health insurers, and importantly, to taxpayers. Studies show an average 17% reduction of heart attack hospitalizations within the first year a smokefree policy is implemented.4 Over 2/3rds of these hospitalizations are paid by Medicaid, Medicare and other governmental programs. A state smokefree law could save taxpayers over $116 million.5 And this isn’t even considering the additional savings from preventable hospitalizations from stroke, asthma and other conditions.
A study comparing Massachusetts communities found youth were 40% less likely to become regular smokers in communities with ordinances for smokefree restaurants.6
The overwhelming preponderance of studies published in peer-reviewed journals that use objective data, and are not funded by tobacco companies found smokefree ordinances did not cause economic harm to hospitality businesses.7
• Ethically wrong
When secondhand smoke is known as a cause for lung and heart diseases, and when smokefree policies have been shown to improve public health, reduce hospitalization rates and save health care costs, there is no justification to promote legislation that seeks to discourage or penalize communities for adopting smokefree policies for the good of their community.
1 “Reduced Hospitalizations for Acute Myocardial Infarction After Implementation of a Smoke-Free Ordinance – City of Pueblo, Colorado, 2002-2006” Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, Vol. 57/No.51&52, January 2, 2009. 2 Trachsel, Lukas D., et.al., “Reduced incidence of acute myocardial infarction in the first year of implementation of a public smoking ban in Graubünden, Switzerland”, Swiss Medical News, January 7, 2010 3 Herman, Patricia, ND, PhD and Walsh, Michele, PhD, “Hospital Admissions for Acute Myocardial Infarction, Angina, Stroke, and Asthma After Implementation of Arizona’s Comprehensive Statewide Smoking Ban” American Journal of Public Health, published online ahead of print May 13, 2010 as 10.2105/AJPH.2009.1795724 Lightwood, James, PhD, et.al., “Declines in Acute Myocardial Infarction After Smoke-Free Laws and Individual Risk Attributable to Secondhand Smoke”, Circulation, October 6, 2009; 120:1373-13795 Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, Missouri Information for Community Assessment, http://www.dhss.mo.gov/data/mica accessed March 7, 2011.6 Siegel, Michael, M.D., Ph.D., “Local Restaurant Smoking Regulations and the Adolescent Smoking Initiation Process” Arch Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine 2008:162(5); 477-4837 Scollo, M., et.al., “Review of the quality of studies on the economic effects of smoke-free policies on the hospitality industry” Tobacco Control 2003;12:13-20
Below is the article by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, Mark Schlinkmann, published on page B1:
Smoking-ban cities would face tax penalty under House bill
By Mark Schlinkmann email@example.com 636-255-7233
ST. CHARLES COUNTY • Cities and counties with local smoking bans would face stiff financial penalties under a Missouri House bill submitted recently by a group of St. Charles County lawmakers.
The measure would require cities or counties to turn over to local school districts the property and sales tax revenue they get from businesses affected by tobacco restrictions.
“If these municipalities and counties are going to hurt the income of small businesses, maybe their bottom line should be affected as well,” Conway said.
Moreover, Conway said, the public schools could use the extra money.
The bill, which was introduced April 2 and given a House committee hearing Thursday, is opposed by the Missouri Municipal League and anti-smoking groups. With only a month left in this year’s legislative session, the bill’s chances of passage aren’t great.
Richard Sheets, the league’s deputy director, said the measure would punish all residents of a city or county by denying them tax revenue for municipal services.
Sheets said he believes it was filed mainly to send a message to officials in St. Charles County as they consider local smoking bans.
Sheets also objected to the state imposing its will on the smoking issue.
“This is a local issue that should be vetted through the local process of elected representatives,” Sheets said. Stan Cowan, a board member with Tobacco-Free Missouri, said the bill “is essentially trying to intimidate city and county governments to slow down or not pass smoke-free ordinances.”
Cowan also questioned whether the bill would violate the state Constitution by transferring some local tax revenue from its intended purpose.
Although the bill would apply statewide, St. Charles County lawmakers have provided most of its initial support.
Seven other GOP House members from St. Charles County signed on as co-sponsors with Conway. The only co-sponsor from another area is Rep. Penny Hubbard, D-St. Louis.
Conway put the bill’s chances at “50-50 at best” but said she’ll try again next year if she fails this time around.
“It’s not just to start the conversation but to make some of the communities aware of my concern for the businesses,” she said.
Another sponsor, Rep. Doug Funderburk, R-St. Peters, said the bill is “only fair” because government smoking bans are “dictating to private entities.”
The St. Charles County Council last year voted to put on the November ballot a two-question countywide smoking ban package, but that was blocked by the county elections director and a circuit judge. The package’s sponsor wants to try again next year.
Meanwhile, the St. Charles City Council recently decided to hold hearings next month on a city smoking ban that likely would exempt the Ameristar Casino.
O’Fallon and Lake Saint Louis are the only cities in the county that now have smoking bans.
Bans also are in effect in St. Louis and across St. Louis County. Pam Walker, St. Louis’ acting health director, said it’s unjust for the Legislature “to come in after the fact to impose a financial cost on what is clearly a local decision.”
Conway said before the House committee takes up her bill for a vote, she plans to reword it so it affects tax revenue only from bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, casinos and other entertainment-related businesses covered by smoking bans.
She said she doesn’t intend for it to cover tax revenue of large companies whose workplaces might be subject to local-government smoking bans.
mogasp update 2013-04-22 @ 6:57 pm: I invited Rep. Kathie Conway to reply to my introductory comments, which she was good enough to do. I reproduce her response in full below and am happy to withdraw any suggestion that her introduction of this bill was motivated by casino money:I appreciate the consideration. Be assured that there is no “big” tobacco or casino money behind my bill. I do not appreciate that insinuation. I and I alone conceived the bill.
Additionally, this is a property rights bill and has nothing to do with encouraging smoking. In fact, I could not agree with you more about the hazards of tobacco consumption and I stated that publicly in the committee meeting. But I don’t feel government should penalize businesses, some of which were in business long before these types of laws were passed. Should there not be consequences to their actions as well?
The bill has been re-worked. When, and if, it is adopted by the committee, it will be posted on the House website at http://www.mo.house.gov.
If you feel you owe me an apology, that’s fine. I try not to be offended by people on the other side of an argument, but again, I don’t like the insinuation that I’m being bought or paid for by special interests.
Representative Kathie Conway