City-imposed smoking ban appears dead in St. Charles
July 10, 2013
By Mark Schlinkmann
ST. CHARLES – City leaders here have backed off efforts to pass a limited smoking ban and now want to only require businesses to post signs saying whether they allow customers to light up.
Mayor Sally Faith and Council President Dave Beckering announced plans for the sign ordinance at a City Council meeting Tuesday night.
None of the seven other council members attending objected, although no vote was taken. Two were absent.
Faith, Beckering and others previously had endorsed a city smoking ban exempting the Ameristar Casino, which channels millions of dollars in tax revenue each year to her city.
Exemptions for bars, veterans halls and bowling alleys also had been under consideration.
Any city ban, they had said, would have been aimed at blunting efforts of the St. Charles County Council to impose a countywide prohibition that might cover Ameristar.
Now, Beckering said in an interview, he has reason to believe the county body won’t try to do that again.
“I believe if they do anything relative to a smoking ban, they’ll do something to make sure they don’t put the casino at a disadvantage,” he said.
That’s a reference to Ameristar’s long-held argument that a ban on smoking at its St. Charles casino would result in a significant loss of business to the Hollywood Casino in nearby Maryland Heights if a ban wasn’t also imposed there. Casinos are exempt from St. Louis County’s smoking ban.
Faith and Beckering also noted the seven-person County Council has three new members since it took up the smoking issue last year.
A draft of the sign bill submitted by Faith would apply to all public places, including retail businesses and places of employment. “People need to know when they go into a place whether there is smoking or no smoking,” Faith said.
The council held three public hearings on the smoking ban idea in May.
Of 102 people who either spoke at the hearings or contacted the council by email, Beckering said, 51 opposed a total smoking ban, 44 supported a total ban and two wanted a ban with exemptions. Five others had other positions.
“Certainly we had very passionate people on both sides,” Beckering said. However, he said, “after all this discussion, we really don’t have a consensus here.” The County Council last summer decided to put before voters in November a two-proposition countywide package but it was blocked by an election official and a circuit judge.
Under that plan, voters would have first been asked whether to ban smoking in workplaces and enclosed public places.
A second ballot question was on exempting places restricting customers and employees to people 21 and older, including the casino and bars.
The only smoking bans now in the county are in O’Fallon and Lake Saint Louis. They are among the strictest in the metro area, with no exemptions for bars.
Michael J. McFadden commented on STLtoday.com
Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”.
Now that St. Louis has reached an accommodation with the Missouri Athletic Club and St. Charles has withdrawn its anti-smoking proposals, it is time for everyone to take a step back, take a deep breath, and revisit the reason for the bans.
The assumption has been that secondhand smoke is the most dangerous substance known to mankind. That even casual exposure will cause harm. This is based upon a misreading of the surgeon general’s report, which used the unfortunate phrase: “There is no known level of safe exposure.”
In fact, this can equally be interpreted as meaning that minimum safe levels of exposure have not been established. There are safe levels of exposure for arsenic, radon, lead, cyanide, chlorine and nerve gas (we use the last as bug spray and chlorine was a weapon in World War I).
That there is no threshold of causality flies in the face of toxicological principles. Medical science has long recognized the 30 cigarette per day threshold for significant risk. Bartenders in even the smokiest establishment have an exposure equal to perhaps six cigarettes per year.
The oft-bandied statement that secondhand smoke kills about 1,100 Missourians every year is patently absurd. Even OSHA, known for its meddling in every aspect of business, has since 2001 been unable to show a link between casual exposure and disease.
Jay Rosloff – St. Louis
St. Charles County, MO Backs Off Ballot Issues to Expand Smoking Ban
Nov. 15, 2011
Missouri’s St. Charles County Council has backed off of plans to expand the county’s smoking ban through two proposed ballot initiatives because Councilwoman Nancy Matheny has decided a ban expansion would threaten county jobs and businesses. Matheny holds the swing vote and The International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association supports her position.
“Legislated smoking bans deprive business and property owners of their rights to determine their own smoking policies and, on top of that, they are jobs-killers and business busters, especially during these fragile economic times,” said Bill Spann, CEO of the IPCPR.
St. Charles County is part of the St. Louis Metro Area. It is said to be the wealthiest county in Missouri and is among the fastest growing in the nation.
“If people cannot purchase or use tobacco products in St. Charles County, they will simply go elsewhere to do so,” Spann said. “That puts all businesses and residents of the county at a disadvantage to those in adjacent or other nearby counties. Everyone is hurt – smokers and non-smokers, alike.”
“People have rights to choose whether they go into an establishment where there is smoking or not,” Matheny is quoted as saying in stltoday.com.
“That is the key to it all. It’s all about rights, jobs and small business preservation,” said Spann. “And people are tired of being told how to run their lives as part of a Nanny state.”
One ballot initiative would exempt local gambling establishments while the other would eliminate current exemptions for cigar bars and tobacco stores.
“That doesn’t make any sense. They don’t want to sacrifice casino revenues because they know a smoking ban would hurt their business while the life’s blood of a cigar bar or tobacco shop is the ability of customers to enjoy an artisan cigar just as they would a fine wine or premium liquor. Both of these small businesses would be irreparably damaged because some prohibitionists choose to exercise their prejudicial muscles,” Spann said.
According to Spann, the IPCPR is dedicated to the protection and promotion of premium tobacco products, the more than 2,500 manufacturers and retailers who sell them and the hundreds of thousands of adults who enjoy them daily. The industry is dominated by small, family-owned businesses which are responsible for creating more than 85,000 jobs nationwide.
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