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P-D 4/13/2010: “St. Charles County discusses smoking ban”

Lake Saint Louis Ald. John Pellerito spearheaded adoption of the first comprehensive smoke-free air ordinance in St. Charles County after decades of resistance on March 15th this year. Now St. Charles County is discussing county-wide action. That follows unprecedented progress on this issue last year in St. Louis County and City.

The same tired arguments against taking action to protect the health and welfare of the public and private employees are being repeated. But the winds of change are definitely blowing at the local level, even if they haven’t reached the state legislature yet. Here’s the latest report from St. Charles County where Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler is leading this progressive effort.

St. Charles County discusses smoking ban
BY MARK SCHLINKMANN
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
04/13/2010

ST. CHARLES COUNTY — A month after Lake Saint Louis passed St. Charles County’s first comprehensive indoor smoking prohibition, the County Council on Monday night began discussing putting a ban before voters countywide.

Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler,
St. Charles County Council

As expected, the council didn’t make an immediate decision on the proposal to halt smoking in public places by Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler, D-O’Fallon. She wants the matter on the Nov. 2 ballot.

Council Chairman John White, R-St. Charles County, said he prefers waiting until the municipal election next April to allow for more time to study the issue. In any event, public hearings are likely before the council acts.

Many of the arguments pro and con that have come up before other local governments were aired once again Monday, either by council members or others.

Supporters such as Stacy Reliford, an official with the American Cancer Society, said smoke-free laws have become the norm, not the exception, across the nation.

“Every major medical and health organization has said second-hand smoke is harmful,” Reliford said.

Opponents like Carol Gold, owner of the South 94 Bistro in St. Peters, said a ban would hurt businesses such as hers, result in lower sales tax revenue for the county and be unfair to smokers.

“Where are their choices — to the curb, the parking lot, their home?” she asked.

Hibbeler has said the council needs to decide whether to follow St. Louis County’s lead and include an exemption for bars that don’t sell much food. She believes it may be difficult to verify claims about food sales.

The Lake Saint Louis measure, which goes into effect Oct. 1, has no food-related exemptions.

Hibbeler and some other supporters have proposed a vote in November so a St. Charles County ban could take effect as soon as January — when prohibitions in St. Louis County and St. Louis are already set to become law.

Councilman Terry Hollander, R-St. Charles, cautioned that such a tight time frame could give St. Charles County officials too little time to prepare for enforcement. Reliford said St. Louis County, where voters approved a ban last November, has yet to firm up its enforcement plans.

Two council members declared their opposition to Hibbeler’s proposal Monday — Paul Wynn, R-O’Fallon, and Joe Brazil, R-Defiance, who wasn’t present but had a statement read on his behalf.

Wynn said a ban would take away business owners’ freedom to choose whether to allow smoking.

“If you don’t want to go to a restaurant, don’t go,” Wynn said. “If you don’t want to work there, don’t work there. It’s America.”

Hibbeler said “a business owner’s freedom crosses the line when it infringes on those people work there” and on customers.

Bill Hannegan, whose Keep St. Louis Free group has opposed smoking bans across the area, warned that his organization plans a court challenge to St. Louis’ exemption of casinos from its ban.

Hibbeler has suggested exempting the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles from the St. Charles County measure because of concern that Ameristar would finance an opposition campaign.

Kirkwood and Ballwin are now the only cities in St. Louis County with comprehensive bans; Clayton will join them in July.

Illinois has a statewide ban.

Statewide proposals pending in the Missouri Legislature are considered unlikely to pass before this year’s session ends next month.

S-J 3/20/2010: “Lake Saint Louis bans indoor smoking”

Lake Saint Louis bans indoor smoking
County could follow suit on bars, restaurants

By Joe Scott, St. Louis Suburban Journals
Saturday, March 20, 2010 1:37 PM CDT

Greg Ory (photo by Roy Sykes, Suburban Journals)


Roy Sykes photo – Greg Ory from St. Charles smokes during happy hour at RT Weilers on Main Street in St. Charles. Lake Saint Louis aldermen voted to ban smoking in public places, including bars and restaurants. Now, the St. Charles County Council will consider putting a countywide smoking ban on the November ballot.

Lake Saint Louis has become the first St. Charles County municipality to approve a citywide smoking ban in enclosed public areas, including restaurants and bars. Now, the rest of St. Charles County may get a chance to decide on a similar ban.

“Sometimes it’s OK to be first,” said Jim Beattie, an oncologist with Missouri Cancer Care at SSM St. Joseph Hospital West in Lake Saint Louis. Beattie, a Lake Saint Louis resident, spoke before the Board of Aldermen voted Monday to ban smoking in enclosed public places. “Sometimes it’s OK to be brave. Sometimes it’s OK to be the leader and not the follower.”

Aldermen approved the smoking ban with a 4-2 vote. The ban is set to take effect six months after Mayor Mike Potter signs the bill into law. Potter, who opposes the smoking ban, said he plans to sign the bill unless one of the four aldermen supporting the ban changes their minds. It takes four votes to approve an ordinance, the same number it would take to override his veto.

The sponsor of the bill said banning smoking in public places is the right thing for Lake Saint Louis.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Alderman John Pellerito, Ward 3, who sponsored the smoking ban bill. “This is a giant step forward. This shows the rest of the municipalities that communities can come together to do what’s right.”

He said the Lake Saint Louis ban could set the tone for St. Charles County.

St. Charles County Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler, D-District 2, said Wednesday she would like to discuss putting a countywide smoking ban on the ballot in November.

She acknowledged time is getting short to get a measure on the ballot and allow time for public debate. The deadline for putting a proposition on the November ballot is Aug. 24. Hibbeler said the council needs to discuss the issue during its April meetings to give time for public input. The action would need a simple majority of four votes to pass. A supermajority – five of seven votes – would be needed to override a veto.

County Council President John White, R-District 7, said he would agree to put discussion of a smoking ban on an upcoming work session agenda. As a self-described reformed smoker, he said he enjoys going into bars and restaurants without smelling cigarette smoke.

“I’m not really in favor of forcing the issue on people,” White said. “It’s a public issue, so the public should decide.”

The St. Louis County smoking ban exempts casinos, smoking lounges at St. Louis Lambert International Airport and bars where food accounts for less than 25 percent of the gross sales.

Hibbeler said she would prefer fewer exemptions to the law because they might invite lawsuits. Opponents say exemptions are unfair to nonexempt businesses.

“That’s the devil in the details,” Hibbeler said. “We don’t want to do anything that hasn’t been done before because we don’t want a situation where it costs the county money to defend it in court.”Before the Lake Saint Louis board’s vote on Monday, Betty Asher, a Lake Saint Louis resident and nonsmoker, said she felt strongly the ban violates business owners’ rights to make decisions affecting their establishments. She noted aldermen had discussed their responsibilities in protecting public health.

“Where do we stop once we dedicate ourselves to deciding what is good or bad for others?” Asher asked. “It is my choice to go or to not go. I choose my right to choose.”

Alderman Harry Slyman, Ward 1, and Charlotte Norton, Ward 2, voted against the ordinance. Norton said a smoking ban should be countywide or statewide so business owners in one area aren’t at a disadvantage.

“This is putting a Band-Aid on a major wound,” Norton said. Smokers simply will drive a couple of miles to neighboring towns without a countywide or statewide ban, she said.

Slyman said he believes business owners should make decisions about their own establishments.

“It’s a freedom of choice issue,” he said.

Beattie said the city already imposes rules on businesses, such as how many trees must be planted in parking areas.

“Then it seems incredulous to say that you shouldn’t make a rule against blowing smoke in your establishment when we know it’s a carcinogenic,” Beattie said.

The Nation: “Big Tobacco and the Historians”

I thought that Big Tobacco had at least been vanquished in the courts, with multi-billion dollar settlements approved both in favor of the states and in class action suits brought by injured smokers or their surviving spouses. In the latter case, Big Tobacco is taking no prisoners, and seems to have developed a similar kind of winning strategy to the one that kept it safe from lawsuits from dying smokers for so long in the past: blame the smoker. The excerpt below reveals how little this industry, which continues to peddle disease and death, has really reformed.

mortarboard with cigarettes from The NationBig Tobacco and the Historians
by JON WIENER

Published in the March 15, 2010 edition of The Nation.

Last summer Robert Proctor, a Stanford professor who studies the history of tobacco, was surprised to receive court papers accusing him of witness tampering and witness intimidation, along with a subpoena for his unfinished book manuscript. Then in January he got another subpoena, this one for three years of e-mails with a colleague, and also for his computer hard drive. Attorneys for R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris USA are trying to get him barred from testifying in a Florida court as an expert witness on behalf of a smoker with cancer who is suing the companies.

Proctor hadn’t tampered with any witnesses; all he had done was e-mail a colleague at the University of Florida asking about grad students there who were doing research for Big Tobacco’s legal defense. But he’s had to hire his own lawyers and spend days in depositions, defending himself from the charges. He told me he had recently spent “sixteen hours under oath, twelve lawyers in a room overlooking San Francisco Bay, a million dollars spent on deposing me and going after these e-mails.”

There’s a reason Big Tobacco would like to keep Proctor out of the courtroom. He’s one of only two historians who currently testify on behalf of smokers with cancer–while forty historians have testified on behalf of the tobacco industry. In 1999 Proctor became the first historian to testify against Big Tobacco, and over the past ten years he has testified in fifteen cases. He’s published several books, including Cancer Wars: How Politics Shapes What We Know and Don’t Know (1995), and in his co-edited book, Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance (2008), he examines “the tobacco industry’s efforts to manufacture doubt about the hazards of smoking.” He’s also a fellow of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

The harassment of Proctor by Big Tobacco’s law firms reflects the new landscape of litigation over the health hazards of smoking. In the previous chapter of this long-running story, forty-six state attorneys general reached a master settlement of $246 billion with Big Tobacco in 1998 as compensation for states’ expenditures on cancer caused by tobacco. The next year the Clinton Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit, U.S. v. Philip Morris et al., which was decided in 2006 by Judge Gladys Kessler in federal district court in Washington. She ruled that for fifty years the tobacco companies had “lied, misrepresented and deceived the American public…about the devastating health effects of smoking.” In late February both sides asked the Supreme Court to review that case.

Meanwhile, plaintiffs’ attorneys were working on a national class-action suit, Engle v. R.J. Reynolds, on behalf of smokers with cancer. But the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit limited the suit to Florida, where in 1999 jurors awarded smokers with cancer $145 billion, the largest punitive damage jury award in US history. In 2006 the Florida Supreme Court accepted the decision but dissolved the class and said each case had to be tried separately. As a result, there’s a lot of tobacco litigation going on in Florida right now–potentially 9,000 lawsuits. In one of the first of those “Engle progeny” cases, a Fort Lauderdale jury in November awarded Lucinda Naugle $300 million. Proctor is scheduled to testify in another.

In these cases, history has become a key component in the tobacco attorneys’ defense strategy. In the past, when smokers with cancer sued for damages, the companies said they shouldn’t have to pay, because there was a “scientific controversy” about whether smoking causes cancer. But in recent years they have given up that argument and now argue something like the opposite: “everybody knew” smoking causes cancer. So if you got cancer from smoking, it’s your own fault.

To persuade juries, they need historians–experts who, for example, can testify that newspapers in the plaintiff’s hometown ran articles about the health hazards of smoking in the 1940s or ’50s or ’60s, when he or she started. So Big Tobacco has been spending a lot of money hiring historians–and is stepping up the harassment of Proctor. …… [cut]

Forty historians have testified for Big Tobacco; only three have testified against–why the disparity? Two factors help explain it. First, the tobacco attorneys many years ago organized the recruitment of historians and coordinated the creation of a common body of research. Kyriakoudes wrote in his article for Tobacco Control that in 1984, “the industry’s law firms formed the Special Trial Issues Committee,” whose task, according to a memo to Brown and Williamson, was to develop witnesses who “will also explain” to juries that Americans’ decisions to smoke cigarettes were “wholly unrelated” to industry “promotion or coercion.” Plaintiffs’ attorneys, in contrast, typically work as single practitioners and thus can’t come close to matching the organization and coordination of the other side.

They also have nothing like the money Big Tobacco pays its law firms. The reasons were explained by Michael Piuze, the Los Angeles attorney who won the $28 billion verdict in the Bullock case. When it comes to the harm caused by smoking, he said, Big Tobacco is unique. “In most product liability litigation–auto manufacturing or pharmaceuticals–there may be one lawsuit for every 50,000 customers,” Piuze said. “But tobacco companies kill or seriously injure one in two of their customers.” (That is the standard scientific view, endorsed by the American Cancer Society and the World Health Organization.) Thus they can’t possibly pay for the damage they have caused. “So the industry decided in the 1950s on a scorched-earth litigation policy. They would never give up. Never settle. If they ever lost a case, they would appeal. Forever. That’s the way it still is. The message to the plaintiffs’ bar is clear: don’t screw with us, or you’ll be sorry. We will break you financially.”

“There are 38 million people who live in California, and there is one tobacco case pending in California,” says Piuze. “In the entire history of the state there have been eight tobacco trials. That’s one side of the ledger. On the other side, 37,000 people die of tobacco-related causes in California every year. That’s 100 every day. Have they been successful with their litigation strategy? You better believe it.”

“St. Louis County Receives $7.5 Million Grant for Tobacco Education & Cessation Efforts”

St. Louis County Executive, Charlie Dooley, flanked by dignitaries at announcement

From left to right above: Stacy Houston, Congressman Lacy Clay’s office; Judy Baker, US DHHS; Charley Dooley; Margaret Donnelly, Director, Missouri DHHS; Dr. Dolores Gunn, Director, County DOH; St. Louis County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser (partially hidden); Clayton Mayor Linda Goldstein; Ann Hynes, Head of the County Health Education Program, DOH; and Bob Burns, Field Representative, US Senator Claire McCaskill.

I was present at a well-attended announcement by St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley of a CDC grant to promote tobacco prevention and cessation efforts in the county. It was expected to give a substantial boost to current efforts, and will result in additional staff hiring. It is understood that the county health department will work closely with the group at Washington University Institute for Public Health, led by Doug Luke, PhD. The major efforts to promote smoke-free air last year in St. Louis City and County may have helped in securing this grant money, which is part of the stimulus initiative enacted by the Congress early last year.

The above is my preliminary understanding of this effort and will be amended if contrary details prove it needs amending.

I’m proud of the fact that in his remarks Charlie Dooley mentioned the efforts of MoGASP in this area, as well as those of others. We are glad and grateful to have been a part of it. Below are some photos taken at the event, which started at 1:30 pm in the Conference Room on the ninth floor. I snapped some additional photos after the formal presentation, and one was also taken of Mr. Dooley who was good enough to pose with me for a photo. They are appended after the press release.

St. Louis County Councilwoman, Barbara Fraser

Bob Burns, Field Representative, speaking on behalf of U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill

Margaret Donnelly, Director, Missouri Dept. of Health & Senior Services

Margaret Donnelly, Director, Missouri Dept. of Health & Senior Services

Some members of the invited audience: Former Ald. & co-chair of Prop N, Charley Gatton; Pat Lindsey, Project Manager, Tobacco-Free Missouri, St. Louis Coalition; & Dan Duncan, NCADA St. Louis, Director of Community Services


Saint Louis County Receives $7.5 Million Grant for Tobacco Education and Cessation Efforts

SAINT LOUIS COUNTY, MO – (March 19th, 2010) Saint Louis County has been awarded more than $7.5 million for tobacco education and cessation efforts by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The grant funds will be spent locally over the next two years.

“We are very excited about this award and look forward to the positive benefits it will have on the lives of Saint Louis County residents,” said County Executive Charlie A. Dooley. “We are also very proud of our County Health Department for applying for and securing these funds for Saint Louis County.”

The tobacco education and cessation grant awarded to Saint Louis County is for $7,593,110. Earlier today, 44 Prevention and Wellness Grants were announced by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, altogether totaling $372.8 million.

The funds will be spent locally to educate youth about the dangers of tobacco use, to educate the general population about the dangers of secondhand smoke, and to assist smokers who want to quit the habit.

Added Dr. Dolores J. Gunn, Director of the Saint Louis County Department of Health, “We have long known that tobacco is public health enemy number one. This grant will go a long way in helping us fight the problems associated with tobacco use on a local level.”

Spending specifics will not be available for about a month. The Saint Louis County Department of Health will be working with the CDC over the next 30 days to create a detailed budget for the entire grant award.

The County Health Department will work with a variety of community partners over the next two years to achieve the grant’s goals. Among others, these partners will include Washington University’s Center for Tobacco Policy Research, the St. Louis University School of Public Health, and Tobacco Free Missouri – Greater St. Louis Coalition.

In addition, the department will work with local schools, businesses, and other private organizations to educate people about tobacco issues. There will also be a media element to the grant-funded program that will dovetail into the national anti-tobacco “Truth Campaign.”

This funding opportunity is a result of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and is being provided jointly by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP), and the Division of Adult and Community Health (DACH).

For additional information about the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative and grants, visit http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/recovery/community.htm.

For more information about the Saint Louis County Department of Health, visit http://www.stlouisoc.com/doh.

Margaret Donnelly, Director, Missouri DHHS

Charlie Dooley and Martin Pion, MoGASP

Judy Baker, US DHHS and Sen. McCaskill’s rep. Bob Burns

KSDK TV 3/16/2010: “Lake St. Louis Board of Alderman approves smoking ban”

KSDK-TV Channel 5 did a good story featuring the owner of “The Pub” in Lake St. Louis. According to the interview, owner John Bagwell specifically caters to smokers, whom he claims are “90 to 95%” of his customers.

John Bagwell, owner The Pub, Lake St. Louis

Interestingly, not all of his customers were unhappy about the prospect of The Pub going smoke-free in the future. Juli Good, acknowledging that smoking was bad, added she’d go outside if she needed to smoke.

Kitty Harrison, manager of BC’s Kitchen restaurant in Lake St. Louis, which opened as a smoke-free establishment, listed the advantages of operating smoke-free, including it being a healthier environment, no secondhand smoke odor in fabric and carpeting, no cigarette burns, and less cleaning, quite apart from attracting customers.

Ald. John Pellerito, Lake St. Louis

Alderman John Pellerito was also interviewed after the council vote, stressing it was a health and safety issue.

The full transcript, courtesy of ksdk.com, follows:

Lake Saint Louis approves smoking ban

By Mike Garrity, KSDK

A big decision Monday night in Lake St. Louis. With a 4-2 vote, the Board of Alderman has approved a citywide smoking ban in all restaurants, bars, and enclosed areas.

The board’s approval means Lake St. Louis is the first city in St. Charles County to go smoke free. As you might imagine, not everyone is happy about it.

“I’m going to say at least 90 to 95 percent of people come down here to smoke. I mean it’s a big smoking bar,” says John Bagwell.

Bagwell owns “The Pub” in Lake St. Louis, where operating a bar with an atmosphere that’s friendly to smokers is his niche. By law he does not serve food and has posted a large sign alerting all who enter that the pub is a “full smoking” establishment.

Bagwell, many of his customers, and Lake St. Louis’ Mayor, feel a citywide smoking ban will infringe on the independence of Lake St. Louis business owners and that it will drive business over into neighboring O’Fallon.

“I think they need to let the people have their own choice – the owners. Not make a vote, but the owners make their own choice,” says Bagwell.

One of Bagwell’s customers, Amy George, says when the ban goes into effect she’ll patronize businesses where she is able to smoke.

“I won’t spend my money here – I’d go somewhere where you could smoke. I don’t go to places over the river cause you can’t smoke anywhere. I come here because you can smoke and feel comfortable,” says George.

But not all Bagwell’s customers are against banning smoking in restaurants, bars, and enclosed areas.

Juli Good is one smoker who supports the ban.

Juli Good, smoker, favors smoke-free air law

“Stop the smoking. It’s bad, it stinks, it’s overwhelming, and we can go outside if we need to smoke,” says Good.

And the Alderman who sponsored the bill behind the ban, John Pellerito, says it’s all about public safety and health.

“This is about public health, public welfare. This is about the safety of the citizens and the people who work here,” says Pellerito.

Meanwhile the manager of the popular Lake St. Louis restaurant “BC’s Kitchen” says her restaurant has been smoke-free indoors and on its patio since it opened in August 2008.

And she feels that’s helped attract customers.

“Yeah, I think it’s a healthier environment,” says Kitty Harrison, who manages BC’s Kitchen. “The smoke in fabric, carpeting, cigarette burns on wood, really does make an unclean, maybe, a little less clean environment, harder to take care of.”

The new smoking ban in Lake St. Louis will go into effect in six months time.

KSDK

P-D 3/16/2010: “Lake Saint Louis approves smoking ban”

Some people were rejoicing at the news of the first city in St. Charles County to go smoke-free, effective in six months time. Others, not so much. Here’s Bill Hannegan’s unsurprising first comment after it was posted on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch web site on-line:

Bill Hannegan March 15, 2010 11:04PM CST

It is sad to hear that the Pub in Lake St. Louis will suffer the same sort of losses that Van’s Tavern has suffered in Kirkwood. It is a shame that this small business could not have been spared. The St. Louis County Council had the decency to exempt bars, and those exempt bars will be competing with Lake St. Louis bars forever. Why did this have to happen?

The story which prompted the above lament is reproduced below. Note that in the last paragraph it states that “Kirkwood and Ballwin are the only cities in St. Louis County to have bans.” That’s a bit misleading since many, if not most, municipalities in the County have smoke-free air ordinances. It’s just that they have either adopted the state’s weak wording or only strengthened it marginally. For example, the City of Ferguson has added a requirement that all city-owned buildings are smoke-free. The City of Chesterfield is stronger, requiring many restaurants to be smoke-free.

Reporter Mark Schlinkmann also wrote that “The bill would take effect six months after it is signed by Mayor Mike Potter.” That appears to be contrary to a conversation I had with Ms. Donna Daniel, Lake St. Louis City Clerk. She said the Mayor has until the next council meeting on April 5 to sign or veto it, or it automatically becomes law, and effective 6 months after its approval yesterday, March 15, 2010. In other words, the effective date is September 15, barring a veto.

There was a news report on KSDK-TV which features The Pub, mentioned in the Post-Dispatch story: http://www.ksdk.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=72195314001

Smokers in The Pub in Lake St. Louis, 100315
MARCH 15, 2010 — Janice Hurst (left) and Stephen Long, both of Lake Saint Louis, smoke while playing darts at The Pub in Lake Saint Louis. They were opposed to a smoking ban in restaurants, bars and other enclosed areas. “It should just be a personal choice,” Long said prior to Monday’s vote. “We’ll lose one of the only bars in Lake Saint Louis you can smoke in,” Hurst added. (Emily Rasinski/P-D)

By Mark Schlinkmann
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
03/16/2010

LAKE SAINT LOUIS — Aldermen in Lake Saint Louis voted Monday night to ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places.

The measure, which was approved 4-2, would be the first smoke-free law in St. Charles County. The bill would take effect six months after it is signed by Mayor Mike Potter.

Ald. John Pellerito,
Lake St. Louis

The sponsor, Alderman John Pellerito, said Potter has told him he would sign the ban despite his opposition to it.

Mayor Mike Potter, Lake St. Louis

Potter, who was out of town Monday and could not be reached for comment, has called a ban an infringement on the rights of business owners. He has until the board’s next meeting April 5 to sign or veto the bill.

Pellerito said his bill would protect Lake Saint Louis residents and people who work in the city of about 14,000 “from the dangers of secondhand smoke.”

Pellerito, who tried unsuccessfully in 2007 for a smoking ban, began pushing the idea again last November. That was a few weeks after St. Louis County residents voted for a smoke-free plan that will take effect in January. A ban in St. Louis also will start then.

Practically speaking, the primary effect of the Lake Saint Louis ban would be on a handful of bars and restaurants that now allow smoking. Various other establishments and buildings already are smoke-free.

Unlike the St. Louis County ban, the Lake Saint Louis plan has no exemption for bars selling a small amount of food.

It would, however, exempt meeting places of nonprofit groups (mainly veterans and fraternal organizations) with no employees. Hotels and motels would be allowed to set aside up to 20 percent of rooms for smokers.

Lake Saint Louis now allows smoking only in establishments with smoking sections that have air purifier filtration systems. Critics say that doesn’t keep smoke from wafting into nonsmoking areas.

Before passing the smoking ban Monday night, aldermen rejected delaying a vote until after residents can weigh in via a questionnaire or advisory referendum.

“It’s such a large issue,” said Alderman Harry Slyman, who proposed the delay. “It’s not just voting for a stop sign.”

City Attorney Jay Summerville previously advised the board that spending on a nonbinding referendum could be subject to challenge because state law is silent on whether Lake Saint Louis and other fourth-class cities can hold such elections.

So Slyman on Monday emphasized circulating a questionnaire or survey.

Meanwhile, the St. Charles County Council next month is expected to begin public discussion of a proposal to put a countywide smoking ban on the fall ballot.

Kirkwood and Ballwin are the only cities in St. Louis County to have bans. Arnold, in Jefferson County, has a ban. Illinois has a statewide ban. The Missouri Legislature is considering one.

P-D 3/15/2010: “Lake Saint Louis could vote tonight on smoking ban”

Lake St. Louis is giving serious consideration to a smoke-free air ordinance but the usual opposition and hollow arguments against are again being voiced.

Bill Hannegan was first to post a comment on the Post-Dispatch on-line following the story at 10:31 pm last night, arguing it would result in loss of business and quoting examples from Kirkwood which cannot be independently verified.

In the following story, Lake St. Louis Mayor Mike Potter, who opposes the proposal, being quoted as saying:

“I’m against it because of a business owner’s right to run his business.”

Then you have a nonsmoker being quoted as saying “There’s too much damn government already,” and officials should concentrate on the economy.

It’s not clear what the city council can do about the economy but it can certainly do something about improving public health and welfare, one of its key duties. And if Mayor Potter really believes this infringes on business owner’s rights he should work to repeal all the other city ordinances already in effect which do just that. And why stop at business owners?

Here are ordinances I found without much searching in the existing city code that the city should repeal to be consistent:

SECTION 220.040: OWNER TO MAINTAIN PREMISES FREE OF LITTER OR RUBBISH
It is necessary to regulate litter in order to protect the public safety and health and to preserve the aesthetics and general welfare interests of City residents.

It’s OK to be concerned about public health and safety when it comes to litter but not when it comes to secondhand smoke exposure, which has been determined to cause lung cancer in exposed healthy nonsmokers?

SECTION 225.010: UNLAWFUL HOUSING PRACTICES
Makes it unlawful to refuse to sell or rent to a person with a disability.

But the mayor believes it’s OK to discriminate against an asthmatic person who is highly smoke sensitive when it comes to allowing smoking in a business open to the public.

There’s also the following entire section defining nuisances that could be abolished at the same time on the grounds that “there’s too much damn government and the city should be concentrating on the economy.”

SECTION 220.010: NUISANCES — ENUMERATION
A. Every act or thing done, made, permitted, allowed or continued on any property, public or private, by any person, his/her agent or servant to the damage or injury of the inhabitants of this City shall be deemed a nuisance, unless otherwise provided for by ordinance.

Below is the article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Lake Saint Louis could vote tonight on smoking ban
By Mark Schlinkmann
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
03/15/2010

ST. CHARLES COUNTY — Four months after St. Louis County voters passed a smoking ban for most public places, Lake Saint Louis could become the first city in St. Charles County to go smoke-free.

And a call for a countywide ban appears to be gaining momentum.

Lake Saint Louis aldermen may vote tonight on prohibiting lighting up in restaurants, bars and other enclosed areas.

Ever since the board began discussing the bill in November, the sponsor, Alderman John Pellerito, has said a majority seemed favorable to passage. But he says now that the outcome is in doubt because of another alderman’s alternative plan to put the issue before voters.

“I voted to say yes, we should talk about it,” Pellerito said of a nonbinding referendum. But, he added, “What I want is the bill to be passed. The bill is about the health and welfare of this community.”

Opponents, including Mayor Mike Potter, echo a key argument made over the years in other parts of the metro area: Smoking bans infringe on the independence of business owners.

“I’m against it because of a business owner’s right to run his business,” Potter said. Once a business decides whether to allow smoking, he said, customers can then decide whether to patronize the business.

Pellerito and Potter agree that, practically speaking, the primary effect of the ban in the city of about 14,000 would be on only a handful of bars and restaurants that now allow smoking. That’s because various other establishments in the city already are smoke-free, as are many other buildings covered by the proposal.

Among the opponents is John Bagwell, owner of The Pub, near Interstate 70 and Lake Saint Louis Boulevard.

“Ninety percent of our patrons smoke,” he said. “It’s going to hurt us.” He expects some customers to patronize bars in nearby O’Fallon, which allows smoking.

Don Baker, owner of Donatelli’s Bistro on Highway N, said it would be fairer to impose rules statewide. “My second choice would be countywide,” he said.

Discussion of a countywide approach to the issue is expected to begin soon by the St. Charles County Council.

Council Chairman John White, R-St. Charles County, says he tentatively plans to schedule a meeting April 12 to talk about the idea of putting a countywide smoking ban before voters for the November election.

That proposal is being pushed by Councilwoman Cheryl Hibbeler, D-O’Fallon, with support from a regional anti-smoking coalition.

Coalition official Pat Lindsey said the group hopes to persuade some municipal boards to adopt resolutions of support for a countywide vote. St. Peters Mayor Len Pagano says he plans to ask his city’s Board of Aldermen to do that.

Lindsey and other coalition members are to meet today with County Executive Steve Ehlmann, who has been noncommittal on the issue. White also is undecided on Hibbeler’s proposal and wants to hear what municipal leaders in the county think.

Hibbeler says at least two ideas could come up at the April council meeting: asking voters to approve a ban on smoking in public places countywide — with some exemptions — or scheduling a nonbinding advisory referendum.

She said the council also will have to discuss whether to follow St. Louis County’s lead and exempt bars that do not sell much food — something she’s not sure about now. She said it could be difficult to verify claims about food sales.

She added, though, that it’s likely that any county plan would exempt the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles for political reasons: to ward off a possible ad campaign by the casino firm against a smoking ban.

Ameristar has said it opposes any smoking ban, partly because its competitor across the river in Maryland Heights — Harrah’s — will be exempt from the St. Louis County ban that takes effect next January.

“I think the people of St. Charles County need the opportunity to make their own informed decision on the facts rather than being bombarded with … advertising on the issue,” Hibbeler said.

Hibbeler said most council members prefer to delay a decision until after the Missouri Legislature’s session ends in mid-May to see whether a statewide smoking ban proposal is passed.

The Lake Saint Louis proposal would take effect six months after aldermanic approval. Unlike the St. Louis County ban, it would contain no exemptions for any bars.

Customers of two Lake Saint Louis restaurants along I-70 where smoking is permitted in separate sections had mixed opinions on the issue when interviewed during the lunch hour Friday.

At El Maguey, Jeanne Schmitz, 49, a nurse who works with cancer patients, was firmly in favor of the ban. She worries about secondhand smoke.

“Smoking causes lung disease and lung cancer,” said Schmitz, a nonsmoker who lives in St. Charles County.

In another part of the restaurant, Tom Johnson, 53, a nonsmoker from St. Charles, said he was opposed.

“There’s too much damn government already,” he said, adding that officials should concentrate on improving the economy.

A few doors away outside a Denny’s, Mike Millfelt, 75, a nonsmoker who lives in Lake Saint Louis, was critical of the proposed ban. “Why completely keep out the people who smoke?” he asked.

Also there was Bryan Thrower, 45, a Warrenton resident who’s trying to stop smoking.

“If it wasn’t in the public area, it would be easier for everybody to quit,” he said.