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

1 comment:

  1. Great blog. Keep up the good work. Hopefully your city won't go the same as mine - Charleston, SC. You can check out our defeat at http://www.charlestoncigarfactory.com.

    A little common sense would go a long way . . .