Tuesday, January 27, 2009

FACT: Area Smokers Die Younger and the Rest of Us Pay for It

The mayors of five adjacent cities in St. Louis County have reignited the smoking ban issue, asking the County Council to ban smoking in public places.

The council rejected a ban three years ago. Whether the new effort succeeds might depend on whether the city of St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County could enact a ban simultaneously. None of their leaders wants to go it alone and put their bars and restaurants at a disadvantage against competitors in a neighboring jurisdiction.

In the meantime, smokers and second hand smokers continue to die sooner. What gives? Does this make sense.

The mayors of Clayton, Creve Coeur, Olivette, Overland and University City say they are in favor of a no-smoking ban in public places.

A letter they sent last month to the County Council and other county mayors stated: "Smoking in public places is a critical public health issue in our communities and across the entire county." Critical? Hell no. It’s a matter of life and death.

Signing the document were Mayors Joseph L. Adams of University City, Jean Antoine of Olivette, Harold Dielmann of Creve Coeur, Linda Goldstein of Clayton and Mike Schneider of Overland.

St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley, a reported smoker, opposed the last smoking ban ordinance.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay always has been against the city proceeding alone on a ban. In a statement Friday, he said he wished every restaurant in the city were smoke-free by its own choice. "With that said, I would support a national, statewide or city-county policy that restricted smoke in restaurants," he said.

It seems as if no politician will go it alone. They feel there is security in numbers, while St. Louis area residents continue to die sooner than expected.

St. Charles County lacks the jurisdiction-wide health powers of St. Louis and St. Louis County, Ehlmann said. A smoking ban in his county might require a voter-approved county charter amendment, he said.

Clayton Mayor Goldstein said her aldermen would discuss a city smoking ban at their work session on Feb. 10. "We are really at the beginning of our conversation on this," she said.

Managers at two popular bars in mid-St. Louis County said no-smoking ordinances that applied only in some municipalities would hurt some businesses, but will help others and help prevent citizens from DYING SOONER. HELLO!

Weber's Front Row, a bar and restaurant in Webster Groves says smoking is allowed in the bar but not the restaurant. Both sections have separate entrances, and no barrier is between them. And in the meantime, their employees continue to be exposed and are open to dying sooner. Of course none of us will be around 40-50 years from now to say, “I told you so.”


St. Louis County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, D-University City, said viewpoints often exclude one important group — employees.

"It's one thing for customers to choose or not to choose, but a lot of people working in smoky bars don't really have a choice," said Fraser, who supports the mayors' letter.

Black Jack Mayor Norman McCourt said a smoking ban should be at the state level. (Illinois enacted a statewide ban in January 2008.) The mayors' letter also said a smoking ban would be best at the state level. But "the political climate in our state" does not make such a ban likely, the document said.

State Rep. Joseph Fallert Jr., D-Ste. Genevieve, has introduced a constitutional amendment to prohibit smoking in public places or meetings and to authorize legislators to enact laws to implement the ban.

The smoking ban issue largely has been dormant in the St. Louis area since the County Council in 2006 rejected an attempt by former council member Kurt Odenwald, R-Shrewsbury, to prohibit smoking in public places.

Antoine, the mayor of Olivette, started the effort that led to the letter with a meeting of the five mayors in November. He believed a letter from the mayors in five adjacent communities would give it more impact.

Antoine, 64, said he smoked for 10 or 12 years before giving up the habit about 30 years ago. Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard, he said. Recent studies by the Centers for Disease Control confirm that, he said.

Overland's Schneider said he is concerned that secondhand smoke hurts children. Duhhh.
Schneider had been a Scoutmaster and executive with the Boy Scouts for many years. "I always put anything for kids at the front of my agenda," he said.

Schneider said his support of a smoking ban is personal. He said he was 30 when his father died of lung cancer. The mayor said he does not worry that his position may be unpopular. If this is true, the mayor, like all the rest are “playing politics.”


  1. Do St. Louisans really want a smoking ban? A 2007 survey by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services found that only 24.5 percent of St. Louis City residents favor banning smoking in bars and cocktail lounges. Support for such a ban in St. Louis County and St. Charles County is only slightly stronger at 30 and 31.2 percent. A ban on smoking in bars is favored by only 27.5 percent of Missourians overall. These local numbers line up with the latest Gallup Poll, which found that only 29 percent of Americans support a smoking ban in bars. This is pretty slim popular support for such a Draconian restriction of freedom and property rights. http://www.scribd.com/doc/8831046/Data-7

  2. Anonymous3:37 PM

    Don't ban smoking. Just ban it where I work and eat. Here's why:

    1. "The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America today named the St. Louis region the nation's worst, based on factors including an above-average death rate from asthma, a lack of smoke-free laws and high pollen counts."

    2. But the best research has shown that a smoking ban does not reduce the overall exposure of non-smokers to secondhand smoke and actually increases the exposure of young children to smoke as smokers are displaced to their cars and homes.

    That's OK. Smoke in your cars and at home. No problem. Just keep your stink from poluting my clothes, hair, etc.

    3. FACT: Smokers die younger. No if's, and's or BUTTS.