Friday, November 30, 2007

The American Cancer Society and the 16 Cigarette Claim

The American Cancer Society promoted the Illinois smoking ban to the public, and strongarmed the Illinois legislature, with an entirely misleading claim that can still be found on their website:

"One 8-hour shift in a smoky workplace is equivalent to smoking 16 cigarettes."

These are trick numbers. All the ACS is really saying is that a certain chemical is present in secondhand smoke and hardly present in actively inhaled smoke. So it takes 16 cigarettes actively smoked to equal the exposure to this one chemical a nonsmoking bartender receives after 8 hours of work in a smoky bar. Does this mean that a nonsmoker becomes nearly a pack a day passive smoker by taking a job in a smoky bar? Hardly. The actual smoke a bartender breathes in the smokiest bar as measured by total tobacco specific particles equals at most 1/5 of a cigarette per 8 hour shift or 1 cigarette per 40 hour week. The average bartender breathes merely a 10th that much smoke.

Of course, affordable air filtration machines can reduce these fractional smoke exposures to near zero. The Chicago smoking ban, which precipitated the statewide ban, offered an exemption for any smoking-allowed business that could make its indoor air cleaner than the air outdoors. This air filtration exemption is the reason the Chicago ban passed 46-1. Chicago businesses and aldermen knew that air filtration companies could fit any venue with sufficient air filtration measures to make the indoor air of any smoking establishment cleaner than Chicago air.

"Any public place or place of employment otherwise subject to this Chapter whose owner or operator can demonstrate, to the satisfaction of the commissioner of public health and the commissioner of the environment, that such area has been equipped with air filtration or purification devices or similar technologies as to render the exposure to secondhand smoke in such area, notwithstanding the fact that smoking may be occurring in such area, equivalent to such exposure to secondhand smoke in the ambient outdoor air surrounding the establishment. The commissioner of public health and the commissioner of the environment are jointly authorized to promulgate regulations specifying what types of technologies, when and if available, and taking into account any applicable Federal and/or State standards, satisfy the requirements of this paragraph."

Not surprisingly, the ACS made sure that this air filtration exemption did not survive in the statewide smoking ban.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Smoke-Free St. Louis City

The American Cancer Society is gearing up for a run at St. Louis City with a new Smoke-Free St. Louis group and website. This website will no doubt soon claim that working eight hours in a smoking-allowed bar has the same health effects as smoking 16 cigarettes, that a smoking ban will cause the heart attack rates in St. Louis to plummet, that smoking bans don't hurt the bar business, and other typically implausible claims.

It has to bother local ACS officials that St. Louis was named the most friendly city in America to smokers by Forbes Magazine in a positive article that praised St. Louis and political leaders in tolerant cities like St. Louis:

"Politicians in those towns view the issue as a question of property rights, allowing owners of restaurants, bars and other private businesses to permit the market to determine smoking policy. No clusters of cigarette butts on sidewalks in these towns, no masses of huddled smokers booted outside the local bar."

But St. Louis City will not be an easy mark for the ACS. Board of Alderman President Lewis Reed has pledged not to put a smoking ban on St. Louis bars and restaurants "unless a smoking ban is in place everywhere else." And the Missouri Restaurant Association and St. Louis bars now know, thanks to former County Councilman Kurt Odenwald, that the smoking ban juggernaut in not inevitable or unbeatable.

Furthermore, retired Monsanto analytical chemist turned ETS researcher David Kuneman, along with fellow researcher Michael McFadden, has completed a huge study that shows smoking bans have no effect on heart attack rates in communities that enact them. Such politically incorrect results have met with a lack of interest in public health journals, the same lack of interest Kuneman encountered in Kurt Odenwald, Kuneman's former 5th district councilman, but such research is starting to reach political leaders and ordinary citizens in Missouri.

It turns out heart attack rates fluctuate. From 2003 to 2004 the heart attack rate in South Carolina fell 12.5 percent and the heart attack rate in Nebraska fell 28.5 percent. Yet neither state had a smoking ban.

Michael McFadden made this comment on my last post:

Whenever something like covert air quality testing is done by someone who's not only an advocate but whose entire livelihood and career are dependent upon producing scary results a BIG red flag needs to be raised.

The scientific method emphasizes the need for "double-blind" experimentation because even when researchers have NO vital interest in the results of their work it's still quite possible for those results to be unconsciously biased.

We've seen news stories and analyses indicating that a significant percentage of pharmaceutical research is tainted by various degrees and types of fraud.

How much more likely is it that in the field of secondary smoke research, a field where researchers are not only tempted by money and prestige to fiddle with their findings but also driven by an almost religious fervor to have those findings support what they KNOW to be the "right" policy ... How much more likely is it that a significant amount of fabrication goes on?

I don't know, but I'd guess a LOT more likely. Certainly more than enough to account for most of the studies that come up with "significant" findings supporting the antismoking agenda.

I hope Michael will further comment on a September 15th letter I sent to Thomas Swoik, Executive Director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, concerning similiar stealth tests done on the air of the Casino Queen. I have eliminated the full contact information for Ray Narconis and Global Environmental Consultants, which is readily available at their website.

Mr. Swoik,

I read in yesterday’s Post-Dispatch about the testing of the air quality in the Casino Queen by the American Lung Association and the Roswell Park Cancer Institute. Please let me suggest that you countermand this sloppy and inadequate study by having the air of the Casino Queen tested by Dr. Ray Narconis of Global Environmental Consultants, a St. Louis based air quality testing firm. Dr. Narconis is an official spokesman for the American Lung Association on indoor and outdoor air quality issues. But, unlike Kathy Drea, he is extremely rigorous and fair. Our group recently used the extensive testing of the Lambert Airport smoking lounges done by Dr. Narconis and his firm to convince the St . Louis County Council that the lounges worked fine and a smoking ban at Lambert Field was not needed. Martin Pion, head of the local antismoking group Missouri GASP, had done a study similar to Kathy Drea’s of the Lambert lounges which purported to show that the lounges leaked. This study was even published in the prestigious British Medical Journal:

Yet the clearly superior testing methods of Dr. Narconis and his willingness to speak before the council in defense of the lounges, superseded the Pion test and carried the day. The St. Louis County Council voted not to ban smoking in these lounges at Lambert Field. The tests of the Lambert Field smoking lounges by Global Environment Consultants cost a little over $6000. Dr. Narconis was also severely critical of the sloppy methodology of the Pion tests. You could commision him to do an official analysis of Kathy Drea’s study. As an official scientific spokesman for the Lung Association, his analysis and testimony would carry a lot of weight.

Contact info for Dr. Narconis:
Narconis, Ray, CMRS, RPIH
Global Environmental Consultants, Inc.

Please find attached a copy of the Lambert Field smoking lounge tests. Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help in this fight for personal freedom and property rights.

Bill Hannegan
Keep St. Louis Free!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Conflicting Death Tolls

Back in October I heard from the Missouri Restaurant Association about a study that predicted a huge death toll among Pennsylvania casino workers if the Pennsylvania legislature did not pass a smoking ban. The Missouri Restaurant Association seemed to feel that this study might affect the consideration of a smoking ban by the Kansas City Council that was then ongoing.

I did some checking and found that two very different death tolls were being floated by the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco and ETS researcher James Repace in separate press releases issued three days apart. I sent a letter of warning to members of the Pennyslvania Senate and the Pennsylvania press:


The Pennsylvannia Alliance to Control Tobacco and James Repace claim to have done a study of Pennsylvania casino indoor air quality the dire findings of which obligate Pennsylvania legislators to pass a strict smoking ban that includes casinos. Yet two PACT press releases three days apart report two hugely different sets of study findings. The first predicts 1771 Casino worker deaths over the next forty years without a smoking ban. The second only 300. The first say 44 casino workers will die each year. The second only 8. Which numbers are correct? Where do these numbers come from? Does this study really exist? Or are the numbers in these press releases simply being made up? Why is James Repace quoted reporting contradictory study findings in the two releases? The public has a right to review this study and get answers before casino legislation is further debated and voted on. Please look into this scandal.

October 15th PACT press release:“Twenty times OSHA’s Significant Risk Level will eventually kill 44 casino workers every year. This is comparable to the total number of deaths from coal mine disasters in 2006 – and we all appreciate that coal mining can be a dangerous job,” Repace said. “Working in a casino should be a safeway to make a living — except that secondhand smoke makes it a hazardous occupation."

18th PACT press release:"Twenty Seven times OSHA's Significant Risk Level will eventually kill 8 casino workers every year. By comparison, between 1995 and 2002, 16 miners died in Pennsylvania mine disasters, or about 2 per year. We appreciate that coal mining can be a dangerous job," Repace said. "Working in a casino should be a safe way to make a living - except that secondhand smoke makes it a hazardous occupation."

The following is an letter of warning concerning this PACT study I have sent to all members of the Pennsylvania Senate and House:

Senator Wozniak,

I am writing to warn you about a recent "study" conducted by Dr. James Repace and the Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco. The original press release announcing the results of this study predicted 1771 deaths of nonsmoking casino workers due to environmental tobacco smoke exposure in Pennsylvania casinos over the next 40 years. Astoundingly, three days later, PACT issued a press release which said the study predicted 300 deaths, nearly a five-fold decrease. Citizens have no access to the orignal study and have to wonder if such a study exists or are the numbers simply being made up? All citizens have are these competing press releases:

Whatever final number Dr. Repace and PACT finally decide on for a death toll, the press releases indicate that such numbers are based on stealth air quality tests performed at several Pennsylvania casinos. Senator, if these tests did indeed take place, they could only be performed by Dr. Repace using very inadequate equipment and under poor circumstances due to the furtive nature of the tests. Clearly these tests were conducted without the knowledge, permission or cooperation of casino authorities.Were casino filtration and ventilation systems even fully operational and employed to peak capacity at the times of the tests? We don't know. Dr. Repace's "tests" cannot be considered any measure of the efficacy of casino filtration and ventilation systems against enviromental tobacco smoke. Please reserve all judgement in this matter until Pennsylvania casino air can be tested in a professional manner with full cooperation of casino authorities.

Senator, properly conducted tests would likely exonerate fully ventilated and filtrated Pennsylvania casino air. In an example from another state, when rigorous tests were conducted on the air of the Bellagio casino in 1999 and 2005, the casino air was found to be as clean as the air outdoors or a smoke-free office building. Tests done at the Bellagio Casino found that RSP concentrations in its air ranged between 12 to 58 micrograms per cubic meter of air (ug/m3). Outdoor air that clean would receive one ofthe EPA's two best outdoor air quality ratings: Good or Moderate. Less than half of this RSP was found to be tobacco-related. Belagio Casino air is well within the range of 100 or fewer (ug/m3) of tobacco-related RSP that the 1986 World Health Organization guidelines said would be of "limited or no concern". Such air easily surpasses all of OSHA's workplace air quality standards. Legitimate air quality tests at Pennsylvania casinos might very well yeild similar results.

Senator, let me further ask you to fully investigate the ability of air filtration and air cleaning machines to purify the air not only of casinos but also mom and pop bars and restaurants. Air filtration companies assure me that they can get the air of any building in which smoking is permitted almost perfectly clean by installing redundant HEPA air cleaning and electronic air filtration machines. Many excellent companies offer commercial air filtration machines that are affordable and effective. These same machines currently protect Pennsylvania welders from much more dangerous smoke and fumes to OSHA air quality standards.

As a public health bonus, such air purification machines would not only remove tobacco smoke, but also viruses, bacteria, chemicals, pollen, dust,mold, fungi and, most importantly, radon decay products, which the EPA claims causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, seven times more than secondhand smoke is reputed to cause.

CDC even advocates the installation of such machines in public buildings as a protection of workers and patrons against airborne chemical, biological and radiological attack.

Senator, there can be little doubt that air filtration and air cleaning machines already render the air of all Pennsylvania entertainment venues far, far safer than OSHA requires and can meet any air quality standard the Pennsylvania Senate chooses to set. As a further benefit to public health, a filtration solution to the secondhand smoke problem would not displace smokers to poorly ventilated private homes and cars. Research has shown that this displacement actually causes the secondhand smoke exposure levels of children to rise in communities in which a smoking ban has been imposed. Really Senator, what good is a smoking ban if it causes children to breathe more secondhand smoke?

Please be wary of activists using junk science to strip Pennsylvania
citizens of their freedom and property rights. Thank you for considering the evidence that argues strongly against a Pennsylvania smoking ban and in favor of the continued freedoms and property rights of Pennsylvania citizens.

Bill Hannegan

The Pittsburgh Business Times then contacted me and asked that I state my warning to their readers in a letter of 450 words or less. I sent this letter which they published:

The Pennsylvania Alliance to Control Tobacco, and James Repace, a secondhand smoke researcher, claim to have done a study of Pennsylvania casino indoor air quality and its implication for the health of casino workers. PACT and Repace believe the dire findings of their study obligate Pennsylvania legislators to pass a strict all-inclusive indoor smoking ban, and should drive further public smoking restrictions across America. Yet two PACT press releases three days apart report two hugely different results from this same study. The first release, issued on October 15, predicts 1771 Pennsylvania casino worker deaths over the next forty years if no smoking ban is enacted. The second release, dated October 18th, predicts only 300 such deaths. The first says 44 casino workers will die each year due to secondhand smoke exposure without a ban. The second, only 8. Which numbers are correct? Where do these numbers come from? In fact, casino officials doubt that James Repace could have gotten testing equipment past casino security or employed it without the notice of the casinos’ comprehensive camera surveillance. Were tests actually conducted and does such a study exist? Or are the numbers in these press releases simply being made up?

Whatever final numbers Repace and PACT decide on for a death toll, the press releases both indicate that such numbers are based on stealth air quality tests performed at several Pennsylvania casinos. If these tests did indeed take place, it is likely they used very inadequate equipment under limited and furtive circumstances. Clearly these tests were conducted apart from the cooperation of casino authorities. Were casino filtration and ventilation systems even fully operational and employed to peak capacity at the times of the tests? We don't know. Repace's "tests"cannot be considered any measure of the efficacy of casino air filtration and ventilation systems against environmental tobacco smoke nor a measure of the general state of casino air. Judgment in this matter should be reserved until air quality tests can be conducted in a professional, open,and scientific manner with full cooperation of casino authorities.

Earlier tests commissioned by PACT and conducted by James Repace on the air of ordinary bars and restaurants in Pennsylvania have been used to push for strict smoking bans not only in Pennsylvania but all across the country. In light of the startling discrepancy in the reported results of their casino study, PACT should release all such tests and studies for critical public review and examination. Both large casinos and small mom and pop bars and restaurants everywhere feel greatly threatened by smoking bans. All public smoking laws that restrict their freedom and property rights must be justified by something more than slipshod, phantom science by press release.

Bill Hannegan

Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine picked up on all this to good effect:

James Repace, by the way, is the same fellow that Kurt Odenwald and Missouri GASP brought in back in the Spring of 2005 to convince the St. Louis County Council to pass a smoking ban.

All this also makes me question whether Kathy Drea of the American Lung Association actually ever tested the air of the Casino Queen. And if she did, why should we assume her numbers are right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I began this blog by posting a possible compromise public smoking law for St. Louis:

Warning signs shall be put up within and at the entrances of any building when smoking is allowed in that building.

No minor shall be allowed access to any building when smoking is allowed in that building.

15 air changes per hour of air filtration and air cleaning, or some equivalent air purification process, shall be ongoing in any building when smoking is allowed.

I need to clarify that this law is not an admission on my part that environmental tobacco smoke in a bar is a real health threat to ordinary workers or patrons. I am just suggesting that St. Louis smoking-allowed venues would be more likely to keep their freedom if the smell and haze of tobacco smoke were cleared from their air and adults in these places waited to smoke till the kids weren't around. I am aware that antismoking activists could try to use such a law as a stepping stone to a strict ban. But I also agree with Alderman Steve Gregali that a compromise law could replace a smoking ban by dealing with the aspects of bar and restaurant smoking the health activists object to most and business owners least want to keep. I came up with my suggested compromise in response to a sentiment expressed by St. Louis County Councilman Hazel Erby in a conversation concerning smoking bans in 2005. Hazel said that she thought adults should have places to smoke, but worried about her asthmatic grandchildren being exposed to smoke in St. Louis restaurants. This law would absolutely protect Hazel's grandchildren, substantially protect bar and restaurant workers, yet not favor anyone type of establishment over another. Remember that Hazel voted against the smoking ban because it was unfair to certain businesses.

Yet perhaps an added air filtration requirement to the Gregali Bill would make a better public smoking law for St. Louis. I suggested such an added requirement in a November 11 letter to Alderman Gregali:

Alderman Gregali,

When radio talk show host Lloyd Sloan asked County Councilman Kurt Odenwald on the air about your sign law, Odenwald responded that it didn't protect workers in the smoking section. Couldn't you answer this objection by requiring that the air in any section of an establishment where smoking is allowed shall be continuously filtrated at the rate of 15 air changes per hour by both electronic and HEPA filtration? This requirement shouldn't be a terrible burden for business owners since it is just what filtration companies recommend for comfort. The purified air, largely cleared of haze and smell, should bring some new people in to help defray the filtration cost and a lot of other junk besides smoke will be taken from the air at the same time.
Is there anything we can do to help get your law passed? Please let me know.


Bill Hannegan

Monday, November 26, 2007

Warning to Wichita from Ohio

Yesterday an Ohio resident felt strongly enough about smoking bans to write this letter of warning to Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer and then forward it to me. This letter should serve as a warning to St. Louis bar owners and political leaders as well.

Dear Mayor Carl Brewer:

I read on Topix that Wichita is considering a smoking ban. I am an Ohio resident, and last December, my state voted in an all encompassing ban. I do not speak for any group because I do not belong to any. I can tell you that if your experience mimics Ohio ’s, then what you hear from the SmokeFree organization promoting these bans does not tell the complete story. I have three friends who own local bars, and after many years of successful operation in the community, they are quickly failing now that winter is here.

Some have resorted to simply allowing smoking again. In Ohio , the ban is enforced through an anonymous snitch line and reported to the Ohio Department of Health. Since enforcement began in May, only a few establishments have incurred actual fines. Nearly all of the fines have been appealed, and only one $100 fine has been collected. The cost to the state for the appeals is $350, costing the state of Ohio $250 to collect each $100 fine. Many bar owners have decided to simply allow smoking again and eventually pay the fine rather than allow their businesses to go under.

In the beginning, two counties applied for hardship because they could not afford the extra personnel to enforce the ban. Enforcement then went back to the state. Since May when enforcement began, five more counties have claimed hardship, bringing the total number of counties calling for State, rather than county enforcement, to seven.

SmokeFree always promises that non-smokers will come in droves once smoking ends. That is a blatant lie in Ohio . Bars and restaurants with a high smoker population have seen NO increased business from non-smokers. So, where does that leave Ohio and other states and cities considering smoking bans? It leaves them with laws that are increasingly unenforceable and businessmen with the dilemma of deciding whether to break the law or simply close their doors.

When the Ohio ban was voted on, it included an exemption for private clubs. Many private clubs saw a golden opportunity for increased business should the ban be passed, so they supported it. As soon as the enforcement began, the ACS and SmokeFree filed a complaint against the private club exemption, and it was granted. So, the people of SmokeFree duped the private clubs and promptly turned on them.

Ohio’s law had no rules of enforcement at its onset. They wrote the rules as they went along, thus the six month period from vote until enforcement. Many non-smokers do not support this ban. It turns fellow citizens against each other through the anonymous reporting system. Many calls are, in fact, the result of a disgruntled customer or business competitor and are false. What you read and hear from the powerful people who march into community after community with lies about the effects of smoking bans is simply not true and is designed to fool some of the people most of the time. I urge you to look more deeply into the effect of smoking bans upon the actual people living under them before taking Wichita down the same path as Ohio . Thank you

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Letter to Lake St. Louis

This is a letter I sent to Lake St. Louis Mayor Mike Potter and the Lake St. Louis Board of Aldermen last July:

Dear Alderman Buell,

In a June 28th Suburban Journal article, the owners of El Maguey Mexican restaurant and Donatelli's Bistro expressed concern that a Lake St. Louis smoking ban would harm their businesses. They are right to worry. Elsa Barth, owner of the Seventh Inn restaurant in Ballwin, says her restaurant experienced an immediate 35 percent decline in business due to the Ballwin smoking ban. She explained that if a dinner party included even a single smoker, it would choose an alternate establishment that allowed smoking. For every smoking customer she lost, she would also lose many nonsmoking companions of the smoker as well. Elsa Barth and Mike Probst, owner of longtime Ballwin bar the French Quarter, felt so strongly against the harm of smoking bans they refused to promote smoking bans in neighboring communities and even testified against smoking bans before the St. Louis County Council. Aldermen from Arnold also testified before the St. Louis County Council hearings, warning of the economic harm caused by their smoking ban to Arnold businesses.

Many St. Louis bars, restaurants and their patrons deeply don't want a smoking ban. The life risks from environmental tobacco smoke in bars andrestaurants would have to be both very large and established beyond a reasonable doubt to justify such a threat to business and criminalization of adult citizens using a legal product on private property. The following evidence strongly argues that tobacco smoke in any Lake St.Louis bar or restaurant is merely a foreseeable nuisance and irritant that can be almost entirely eliminated through ventilation and filtration:

The longest-running and highest-quality secondhand smoke study ever done, completed too late (2003) to be included in Surgeon General Carmona’s report, found no link between secondhand smoke and lung cancer or heart disease.

"The Bogus 'Science' of Secondhand Smoke", a recent Washington Post op-ed by cancer epidemiologist and toxicologist Gio Batta Gori, former deputy director of the National Cancer Institute's Division of Cancer Cause and Prevention, calls smoking bans "odious and socially unfair" prohibitions based on "bogus" science and “dangerous, wanton conjectures.” Gori warns that the many of the secondhand smoke studies the SurgeonGeneral uses to claim secondhand smoke life risk fail to control for important confounding variables, are based merely on "brief phone interviews", and assume that people always tell the truth about their smoking histories. Gori further warns that the results of these secondhand smoke studies are inconsistent:

“In addition, results are not consistently reproducible. The majority ofstudies do not report a statistically significant change in risk fromsecondhand smoke exposure, some studies show an increase in risk, and ¿astoundingly ¿ some show a reduction of risk.”

A recent study by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory found that restaurant ventilation/filtration systems can make the air of the nonsmoking section of a smoking restaurant as clean as the air of smoke-free restaurant.

My own research confirms this result. When the St. Louis County Council was considering a smoking ban in 2005, Councilman Skip Mange asked me to provide for him a local ventilation/filtration expert who could answerhis technical questions. Every expert I contacted agreed that a properly designed ventilation/filtration system could effectively remove the smoke from the air of bars and restaurants to a safe level.

Another Oak Ridge National Laboratory study of tavern workers in 16 majorcities found that the tobacco smoke exposure of bar and restaurantworkers to be minimal. No bartender was found to breathe more than theequivalent of a single cigarette per 40 hour work week. The average bartender breathed .1 of a cigarette per 40 hour week.

A huge recent study of heart attack rates in California and New York has proven that smoking bans do not lead to a reduction in heart attack rates:

In an estimate of health benefits of the New York City smoking ban, American Counsel on Science and Health President, Elizabeth M. Whelan Sc.D., M.P.H., admits that “There is no evidence that any New Yorker *patron or employee * has ever died as a result of exposure to smoke in abar or restaurant.” Whelan further states that “The link between secondhand smoke and premature death, however, is a real stretch.”

Surgeon General Carmona’s report and press statements have come under severe criticism from respected public health authorities even within the antismoking movement. The Surgeon General’s contention that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke is especially disputed. TheSurgeon General’s report needs much more analysis and scrutiny before it can become the proper basis for law. It is important to remember that the EPA Report which declared secondhand smoke to be a human carcinogen was subject to years of scrutiny by scientists and epidemiologists before being vacated as a fraud by a federal judge four years after its release.

After analyzing the EPA Report linking secondhand smoke and lung cancer, the Congressional Research Service concluded that: "The statistical evidence does not appear to support a conclusion that there are substantial health effects of passive smoking.... Even at the greatest exposure levels....very few or even no deaths can be attributed to ETS."

The refusal of OSHA, the government agency charged with the protection of worker health, to ban workplace smoking, calls into question the danger of tobacco smoke exposure in a bar or restaurant. OSHA has established PELs (Permissible Exposure Levels) for all the measurable chemicals,including the 40 alleged carcinogens, in secondhand smoke. PELs are levels of exposure for an 8-hour workday from which, according to OSHA, no harm will result. OSHA explains that under normal workplace circumstances, secondhand smoke “exposures would not exceed these permissible exposure limits (PELs)”

“Field studies of environmental tobacco smoke indicate that under normal conditions, the components in tobacco smoke are diluted below existing Permissible Exposure Levels (PELS.) as referenced in the Air Contaminant Standard (29 CFR 1910.1000)...It would be very rare to find a workplace with so much smoking that any individual PEL would be exceeded." -Letter From Greg Watchman, Acting Ass't Sec'y, OSHA, To Leroy J Pletten, PHD,July 8, 1997

Alderman Buell, if the maximum tobacco smoke exposure for any bartender is 1 cigarette per 40 hour work week, the ordinary exposure only a tenth of that, and the exposure of any patron only a tiny fraction of that tenth, is a public health intervention as severe as a smoking ban justified? If OSHA does not deem environmental tobacco smoke a workplace health risk worth regulating, and the death of any St. Louis citizen due to bar or restaurant smoke is highly questionable, why restrict the freedoms of citizens and the private property rights of business owners with a smoking ban? There is no compelling public health reason to add Lake St. Louis bars and restaurants to the long list of businesses across the country that have been injured or killed by such bans:

Furthermore, bar and restaurant smoking bans have proven to be public health failures. Researchers with the University College London have extensively studied American bar and restaurant smoking bans. These researchers are now cautioning lawmakers that such bans causenon-smokers, especially young children, to involuntarily breathe more secondhand smoke! When smokers can’t smoke around other adults in well-ventilated bars and restaurants, they tend to smoke in poorly ventilated private places around children and elderly relatives instead.These researchers state: “We find that bans in recreational public places can perversely increase tobacco exposure of non-smokers by displacing smokers to private places where they contaminate non-smokers, in particular young children.” These researchers conclude:

"Governments in many countries are under pressure to limit passive smoking. Some pressure groups can be very vocal about these issues and suggest bold and radical reform. Often, their point of view is laudable but too simplistic in the sense that they do not take into account how public policies can generate perverse incentives and effects."

Alderman Buell, what good is a smoking ban if it at once causes childrento breathe more secondhand smoke and longstanding businesses to fail? Please judge legislation not by its good intentions but by its effects in the real world. The smoking ban issue is still a new issue for Americancities, one that lawmakers are still thinking thru. St Louis County Councilman John Campisi is one legislator that has gotten this issue right. This St. Louis County Councilman, though he initially supported a smoking ban, came to see the supreme importance of freedom in American life and the superiority of information over coercion as the best public health protection in a free society. Councilman Campisi wrote to me after shifting his support from a smoking ban to a signage law for St. Louis County:

“Similar to the first surgeon generals warning on the pack of cigarettes, this is the first step toward a smoke free environment...Please think back when the warning came out and how the smoking habits have continued to decline since then... My bill is a warning also to the consumer and the freedom of choice to those that choose not to patronize those establishments that have smoking in their restaurant, bar or casino... I cherish the freedom of choice and the freedom of speech in this country…”

Rather than a smoking ban, please consider a signage law like that advocated by Councilman Campisi or St. Louis City Alderman Stephen Gregali for Lake St. Louis. Alderman Gregali’s law is especially excellent in that it establishes three categories of restaurants: smoking, smoking-restricted and smoke-free. An establishment that declares itself to be smoking-restricted must take exacting measures to assure the public that it will not encounter stray smoke in the non-smoking section. Anyone smoking in a section of a restaurant not designated by signage as smoking would be fined. Thus those with asthma and other special sensitivities would be protected from any surprise encounter with tobacco smoke.

Alderman Buell, please consider making Lake St. Louis a leader in the St.Louis area by passing a common sense a signage law that protects public health with increased information yet respects the freedoms of citizens and property rights of business owners. My group has lately worked hard to provide accurate and complete information to lawmakers in the 22 states and many cities recently considering smoking bans. But we especially want to work to see such reasonable legislation as that proposed by Councilman Campisi and Alderman Gregali established in St. Louis. Please let me know anything we can do to help toward that end!


Bill Hannegan

Friday, November 23, 2007

St. Louis Public Smoking Compromise

Let's keep St. Louis a free and tolerant city. What about a reasonable compromise concerning the public smoking policy in St. Louis? This possible public smoking law for St. Louis would keep secondhand smoke away from children and substantially protect workers from secondhand smoke, yet not favor one type of business over another:

Warning signs shall be put up within and at the entrances of any building when smoking is allowed in that building.

No minor shall be allowed access to any building when smoking is allowed in that building.

15 air changes per hour of air filtration and air cleaning, or some equivalent air purification process, shall be ongoing in any building when smoking is allowed.

This law is modelled on the compromise Tennessee public smoking law recently passed:

Air purification would not only remove tobacco smoke, but also viruses, bacteria, chemicals, pollen, dust, mold, fungi and, most importantly, radon decay products, which the EPA claims causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, seven times more than secondhand smoke is reputed to cause. Commercial and industrial air filtration machines are affordable and readily available. Venues thatallow smoking could be retrofitted without expensive ductwork or other construction costs. Please click here to see two HEPA and two electronic air filtration machines. (These technologies can be combined into a single unit.) These are the same machines that currently protect Missouri welders from much more dangerous smoke to OSHA safety standards, they can also protect bartenders from stray tobacco smoke.

The CDC even recommends that such air filtration systems be installed in buildings as a way of protecting workers from airborne chemical, biological or chemical attacks:

Furthermore, an air filtration solution to the secondhand smoke problem would not displace smokers to poorly ventilated private homes and cars. Research has shown that this displacement actually causes the secondhand smoke exposure levels of children to rise in communities in which a smoking ban has been imposed.

I am very concerned for business owners who have sunk their life's savings into their establishments. Smoking bans have hurt and killed many mom and pop businesses in other towns. But if St. Louis government brings truly clean air to smoking establishments thru contemporary air filtration technology, business in these establishments will not be hurt but would instead flourish as new patrons arrive who were kept away by the previous smoke.