Monday, December 31, 2007

Casino Queen tour prior to Illinois smoking ban

My wife, a lifelong neversmoker, and I, a minimal smoker, toured the Casino Queen tonight to establish just what things are like at the Queen prior to the Illinois smoking ban. This what we found.

Over 75 percent of the Casino Queen's slots were in play. Over half of the patrons were smoking. My wife and I both agreed that the Queen's air filtration system almost entirely cleared the air of tobacco smoke. My wife thought the air might still have a slight haze overall. At eye level, I saw no haze. We both saw haze near the ceiling as the smoke entered the filtration ducts. Yet we both found the air nothing like the air of an ordinary bar that allows smoking. We both agreed that the air in the casino smelled cleaner than the East St. Louis air outside. Yet we both could smell a tobacco scent in the casino air and could smell smoke on our clothes when we left. Was the casino air filtration system on full blast at the time? We don't know.

A big surprise was the presence of atleast one new smoking lounge. A sign indicated that smoking lounges would be available to casino patrons when the Illinois smoking ban began. A casino worker told me the lounges would accomodate 30 - 40 people. The option of such indoor smoking facilities could greatly lessen the impact of the Illinois smoking ban on the Casino Queen. But is a smoking ban that still allows indoor smoking a true ban at all? Will Illinois bar and restaurants be allowed such smoker friendly rooms?

I played a 25 cent slot and won 3 dollars on my first quarter. That paid for our gas to the Queen.

My wife and I will return to the Casino Queen to view the effects of the smoking ban later this week.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

American Cancer Society 16 Cigarette Claim challenged in St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch today bravely printed my challenge of the American Cancer Society's 16 Cigarette Claim. I admire the Post for printing it. The ACS gave the Post a lot of money when the ACS took out its full page "Thank you!" ad a while back. Letters editor Jamie Riley seems willing to print both sides of any issue, despite the editorial stance of the paper or the wishes of advertizers. This is the letter as it appeared today:

Smoky numbers

The American Cancer Society promoted a smoking ban to the public and pressured the Illinois General Assembly to enact it with an entirely misleading claim, which it used again in a recent letter: "One eight-hour shift in a smoke-filled workplace is the equivalent of smoking 16 cigarettes."

Sixteen cigarettes is a deceptive number, and the ACS knows it. The ACS is saying that the chemical NDMA (N-nitroso-dimethylamine) is more present in secondhand smoke than in actively inhaled smoke. It takes 16 cigarettes actively smoked to equal the NDMA exposure a bartender receives after eight hours at work in a smoky bar. Does this mean that a nonsmoker becomes almost 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 inhaled equals about one-fifth of a cigarette per eight-hour shift, or one cigarette per 40-hour week.

Public health laws such as the Illinois smoking ban should be based on accurately stated science, not trick formulations meant to scare the public and fool lawmakers.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Smoke-Free St. Louis City touts junk heart attack study.

Smoke-Free St. Louis City is touting an Indiana heart attack study that has been debunked by Dr. Michael Siegel as junk science.

Here is what Dr. Siegel has to say about the study:

"To be blunt, this study is crappy and its conclusions are completely invalid. This study would never have passed scrutiny with me had I been asked to review it."

Dr. Siegel continues:

"In fact, the results of the study fail to support the paper's conclusion.

While the press release sounds quite impressive, if you take the time to read the actual study, you'll find that the sweeping conclusion that a smoking ban reduced heart attacks among nonsmokers by 70% is based on a total of only 22 heart attacks. That's right. There were only 22 heart attacks among nonsmoking patients in Monroe County in this study between August 2001 and May 2005. And there were only 15 heart attacks among smoking patients in Monroe county during the study period.

The sample size of the study is so small that it is ridiculous to conclude that the observed decline from 17 heart attacks (2001-2003) to 5 heart attacks (2003-2005) was attributable to the smoking ban. With sample sizes this small, the variation in the number of annual heart attacks is expected to be enormous. There is no way that the study can determine that the observed decline was due to the smoking ban, rather than simply to random variation in the number of heart attacks in this small
geographic area (only one hospital was included in the study)."

Such tiny studies only serve deceive the public and lawmakers. The Illinois Licensed Beverage Association has an accurate take on what these studies are worth:

"The integrity of the studies cited by these groups is questionable. For example, anti-smoking advocacy groups boast of recent statistics from Pueblo, Colorado citing a dramatic decrease in heart attacks since the inception of their ban. These groups consistently point to the reduction in heart attacks in Pueblo, Colorado and Helena, Montana as incontrovertible proof that secondhand smoke is doubling the heart attack rate among non-smokers.

These two studies comprise a population base of roughly 200,000 people. However, when you look at the 70 million people that comprise the non-smoking states of California, New York, Florida and Oregon-the heart attack rate has either not decreased at all or decreased such a small amount as to be statistically insignificant.

Researchers can deliberately sift through enough small local jurisdictions with smoking bans to find a few aberrations in heart attack rates and then claim that elimination of exposure to secondhand smoke will dramatically reduce incidents of heart attacks. Please don't be taken in by misleading claims based on very select data samples."

Local secondhand smoke researcher David Kuneman and associate researcher Michael McFadden did the huge study the the ILBA relies on. McFadden comments on their huge heart attack study:

"Using a database of fully verifiable public data and covering a subject base literally 1,000 times as large as that covered by a previous and heavily publicized study in Helena, Montana (2), the new study showed clearly that claims -- ostensibly bolstered by that Helena study -- of drastic and instant reductions in heart attacks upon the implementation of smoking bans simply do not occur in larger populations."

It is clear a smoking ban would not cause the heart attack rate in St. Louis to plummet.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

ACS repeats 16 Cigarette Claim in Post-Dispatch letter

This letter from the ACS just appeared in the Post-Dispatch:

"For those employees who have worked in traditionally smoke-filled environments — bars, restaurants and casinos — this law is particularly important. One eight-hour shift in a smoke-filled workplace is the equivalent of smoking 16 cigarettes. That kind of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart attacks, pneumonia, lung cancer, coronary heart disease, emphysema, acute respiratory infections, ear disease and asthma."

Obviously, this Illinois smoking ban has been worked for and passed under the delusion and deception of all but a very few. It has no real validity or authority. I hope it will be ignored from day one!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I have had it with the ACS!

This is what I am up against in St. Louis.

I am going to start picketing the ACS office on Lindell. Would anyone care to join me?

Contact Bill Hannegan at and I will supply a beautiful hand-painted sign for you to hold. Beer and smokes at my place on Lindell just down the street after any protest. I have had it with the ACS!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Open Letter to the American Cancer Society

This open letter to the American Cancer Society from Illinois Smokers Rights head Garnet Dawn Scheur was sent to ACS officials and the Illinois press tonight. I hope Garnet gets some real answers and not just more ACS BS!

December 12, 2007

Open Letter to the American Cancer Society Requesting Documentation for Smoke Free Illinois Health Claims

Dear American Cancer Society, a.k.a. Smoke Free Illinois (Addressee list attached);

cc: Senators and Representative for Illinois General Assembly, Illinois News Media

The Smoke Free Illinois Act (SB500) for Illinois has been based upon health claims from the American Cancer Society. On behalf of Illinois Smokers Rights, the two million eight hundred thousand smokers and the thousands of small businesses who will be affected, I am requesting clarification and validation for those health claims. To institute this invasive and extreme smoking ban, the public needs to learn if any concrete evidence can be provided to validate these claims. A law of this magnitude, with wide-spread social impact and based upon ACS epidemiological studies, needs to be documented for public review and shared in understandable format.

Reports containing computer generated statistics of mortalities and illness are not sufficient. Also insufficient are the previous Surgeon General Carmona's 2006 Press Release, Executive Summary, or quotes which did not reflect the contents of his 700-plus page smoking report. Dr. Carmona's report simply rehashed previous Surgeon General claims and republished previous Tobacco Control studies which had never been able to document any conclusions more definite than finding a "casual relationship"between Environmental Tobacco Smoke (ETS) and health threats.

One particular abuse example for this fully justifiable request to require accuratedocumentation for Illinois tobacco-smoke-health-threats, claimed by the ACS, tobacco control agencies and our Illinois elected representatives, is the currentlydistorted Sixteen Cigarettes claim: Smoke Free Illinois at "One eight hour shift in a smokyworkplace is the equivalent of smoking 16 cigarettes." (In actuality, the equivalent is approximately 1/5 cigarette.) Why the need to be deceptive?

An in-depth study analyzing the dangers from ETS was published to help fuel the promotion of smoking bans in all enclosed establishments, including bars and restaurants. That study proved that measurable amounts of n-Nitrosodimethylamine(NDMA) could be found in side stream smoke from cigarettes and was published, not identifying the offending carcinogen or placing it in proportion with similar amounts also contained in our water, food, and other common substances. "The poison is in the dose"!

The American Cancer Society has implied through incomplete references that breathing in an environment containing (or that has contained) second hand smoke, is the samething as actively smoking. This leaves 98% of those who have listened to current ETS health dogma misinformed. While the scientific community defends themselves by saying that even attempting to explain the epidemiology of second hand smoke would not be practical for public consumption. (From Dr. Stanton Glantz [ANR]: "...we cannot include the caveats because the public cannot understand them..." )

The bulk of the blame still remains upon the manner in which ETS statistical findings have been originally presented and manipulated. Most were intended to create smoking bans. This distortion has been perpetrated by tobacco control with full intention of deceiving and creating false health claims.

Until a public statement or press release making visible and crystal clear the distortions of "16 cigarette" claims to laymen, elected officials and the newsmedia, the intentionally deceptive damage cannot even begin to be reversed. The public is being terrorized by phony health claims, and needs clarification that n-Nitrosodimethylamine is the referenced element for the "16 cigarette" media blitz,and that NDMA is another common carcinogen and threatens us most seriously in ourdrinking water and food supply.

Solid proof is required for Illinois (or any other US governing body) to justify bending our US Constitutional Republic's governmental framework and dismissing the protected liberties in several of its Amendments. The Smoke Free Illinois Act basically ignores our First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth and Fourteenth Constitutional Amendments. Considering the serious state-wide repercussions from this law, justification is required, not vague interpretations of "casual association" health threats.

In addition, ACS financial ties with nicotine replacement products manufactured by the pharmaceutical industry, who hope to increase sales because of this ban, should also be published to avoid misrepresentation of charitable interests and to supply full and honest disclosure to interested parties.

Therefore, Illinois Smokers Rights, Illinois residents and the Illinois news media need to be supplied with actual documented identities of those injured or killed for The Smoke Free Illinois Act to be legitimately recognized.


Garnet Dawn Scheuer

Monday, December 10, 2007

Smoke-Free St. Louis City back in Dutch with Dr. Siegel!

Just posted on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blogs:

"After having backed down from its Friday posting of the American Cancer Society’s 16 Cigarette Claim, Smoke-Free St. Louis City is back in Dutch with Dr. Siegel. And worse this time. Smoke-Free St. Louis City now claims on its website,

“Just thirty minutes of exposure to secondhand smoke can cause heart damage similar to that of habitual smokers.”

Dr. Siegel has led a world-wide campaign to get antismoking groups to retract this fraudulent claim and expunge it from their websites. Smoke-Free St. Louis City has is now likely to find itself on Dr. Siegel’s list of offenders. It’s a rocky start for Smoke-Free St. Louis City."

Friday, December 07, 2007

Smoke Free St. Louis City Removes ACS 16 Cigarette Claim

As quickly as they went up, the claims listed below disappeared from the Smoke-Free St. Louis City website. Smart folks! I had contacted Dr. Micheal Siegel this morning thu his blog comment section and requested that Smoke Free St. Louis City be added to his list of antismoking groups misleading the public with the 16 Cigarette Claim. I doubt that Dr. Siegel had time to take any action, but Smoke Free St. Louis City no doubt got wind that responsible experts were about to take them to task on the claims they had posted. Wisely, the claims were dropped before that could happen.

Smoke Free St. Louis City now pushing American Cancer Society's phony 16 Cigarette Claim!

Smoke Free St. Louis City is now pushing a smoking ban on St. Louis City with the American Cancer Society's phony 16 Cigarette Claim, the same claim Smoke Free Illinois used to help pass the Illinois smoking ban. According to the Smoke Free St. Louis City website:

For patrons & employees, 2 hours in a smoky bar is the same as smoking nearly four cigarettes.
For bar employees, working an 8-hour shift is equivalent to actively smoking nearly a pack a day.

Dr. Michael Siegel, whose many studies concerning secondhand smoke exposure of bar and restaurant workers helped to form the basis of the Surgeon General Carmona's report, has just this week condemned this unqualified claim:

"The smoking ban proponents who are claiming that the nonsmoker exposed for 8 hours will suffer the same health effects as if they smoked 16 cigarettes a day are wrong, and they are being deceptive, probably intentionally."

This is a list of other false or very misleading claims that now appear on Smoke Free St. Louis City website:

HVAC systems re-circulate the contaminated air.

Most cancer-causing particles and all cancer-causing gasses are too small to be trapped by filters.

Ventilation systems start at about $8,000 for a small restaurant; this does not include putting up walls or other physical barriers that are the norm in ventilation-based ordinances.

Studies of sales tax data from 81 cities in 6 states consistently demonstrate that smokefree ordinances have no effect of restaurant revenues.

The claim that air filtration system for bar and restaurants won't work can be quickly refuted by a trip to these two webites:

How could anyone from St. Louis claim that smoking bans won't hurt bars and restaurants with a straight face? People from St. Louis remember Elsa Barth and the Seventh Inn.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Fr. Biondi's Theft of 20 North Starts KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE!

The best bar St. Louis ever had was a small place at the western edge of St. Louis University called Twenty North. It was owned by the lead singer of the band Jake's Leg, Randy Furrer, and the band played there every thursday and friday. The place was perfect for the music Jake's Leg played and the crowd they drew. Since the band had played at that bar for 20 years, a steady stream of people who were no longer regular bar or concert goers would stop by each week to say hi and hear the band one more time. I don't know what it was, but there was some very special mystique about the physical bar and the regulars who showed up each week. The place was pure heaven for me and I love it dearly.

So I was very glad when Randy asked me to do something about the 20 North exterior. Randy knew I worked on old buildings but probably had no idea what a perfectionistic restorationist I could be when working on a building I feel specially devoted to. I powerwashed the exterior walls, tuckpointed them, then applied a clear glue and sealer that would make the walls a solid, tight basis for paint. Then the hard part started: decoration and colors.

I wanted the coloration and decoration to be a perfect statement of the bar. We played around with tie-dye (Jake's leg is a Dead band) and every combination of color, hand lettering and decoration scheme and techinque imaginable. I would buy paint sample quarts from Paint Supply and brush on 3 foot by 3 foot squares of various bright colors. Nothing seemed just right. Finally, Randy stood back from the wall of samples and declared that the patchwork of colors looked cool. He suggested giving every bar patron a 3'x 3' section of the bar to paint in their own bright color. I agreed that the concept was cool, but said that wasn't a practical way to paint the whole bar.

One thursday afternoon, just before a Jake's Leg show, I felt I had hit on a pefect color for the front of the bar, a sort of bright peach. I painted a large section of wall over the front door with this new color. It seemed like such a clear, joyful color in the blazing summer sun, much like Jake's Leg's music. Perhaps the sun was getting to me and I should have realized that many would find the color too bright. When I walked into the bar that evening for a Jake's Leg show, the bartender from across the bar pointed his finger at me, yelling, "If you paint this bar that color, I will hunt you down to the very ends of the Earth, and I will kill you! And I will kill you!" That proved an effective veto of my color choice.

Eventually Randy chose a simple scheme of colors that worked well together and that everyone liked, or could live with. The front of the bar was a beautiful chrome green possible only in a stock color. A stock color is a factory ground color that is more pure and bright than any one can mix in a paint store. The bar looked great. I charged Randy more than he would have liked for my time but less than I needed to charge. It was for me a labor of love. I had to have been working on that exterior a full month, maybe longer, and everyone at St. Louis University had to have seen us working and our wall of trials and colors.

Not long after this, Randy got the bad news. Father Biondi and St. Louis University had gotten 20 North declared blighted and were taking it by eminent domain. Randy found out thru a call from a lawyer who offered his services after having read of Biondi's blighting action in the newspaper. I remember Randy standing outside his bar in shock saying, "They are going to take my ******* bar!"

Father Biondi with help from St. Louis Board of Alderman was eventually able to force Randy to sell the bar to Saint Louis University. Randy rented another city bar, Magees, that later listed itself in the white pages as "Magee's 20 in Exile" But the relocation never really worked. The bar wasn't nearly so well suited to the band or the crowd. And you just can't relocate so much mystique and history.

Biondi claimed he need the 20 North land for an art museum. But that art museum never got built. I drove past the old 20 North site today and it is now just an iron fence and grass. I suspect that Biondi just wanted to clean up SLU's perimeter all along. Back then I didn't know how to fight back against this sort of territorial aggression of a tyrant like Biondi. We 20 Northers back then were clueless how to fight such eminent domain. Today our group would have had a fair chance of stopping Biondi.

What Biondi did to 20 North seems to me like an eminent domain abuse cousin of what Kurt Odenwald tried to do on a much larger scale to county bars. Odenwald wanted County bars to be zones hostile to smokers and Biondi preferred 20 North as a tidily fenced boundary of Saint Louis University. What the owners wanted did not matter. We were happily able to fight Odenwald back, but sadly 20 North is now so much grass and a bitter learning experience. Really, for me, Biondi's theft of a bar was the start of larger campaign for freedom and property rights in St. Louis. At least some good has come out of evil.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Missouri smoking ban information sent to Rolla City Council considering ban.

Councilman Williams:

Scott Caron is quoted extensively in a recent Rolla Daily News article concerning a possible Rolla smoking ban. Mr. Caron states that "50 percent of the country is covered by a Clean Indoor Air Act or ordinance. Currently, 19 states ban smoking in restaurants, bars and/or work places with two more expected to join the ban by 2009." True. And some of these 19 state smoking bans are very harsh. Yet among these laws is an excellent public smoking compromise law recently passed in Tennessee. This law exempts any "over 21" venue. Such a law restricts the exposure of minors to secondhand smoke yet does not favor one sort of business over another and allows adults to make their own free choices.

Mr. Caron reported that Ballwin, Columbia and Kansas City have passed smoking bans. True. Yet people still smoke in Kansas City bars and restaurants. Kansas City will not impose its smoking ban until 85% percent of the counties that make up its metro area sign on. It doesn't look like that will happen soon and the Kansas City Council just rejected a proposal to put a smoking ban on the ballot.

Ballwin, on the other hand, does enforce a severe smoking ban and this ban has devastated Ballwin's best restaurants and bars. The Seventh Inn, one of the few five star restaurants in St. Louis, immediately lost 35 percent of its business after the ban was imposed. Owner Elsa Barth had planned to close or relocate her restaurant outside Ballwin if the smoking ban was not lifted, yet sadly her restaurant was destroyed by fire before she could make that decision. The staff of the best Ballwin bar, the French Quarter, immediately quit after the smoking ban was imposed. Many of Ballwin's best establishments have closed or relocated due to the smoking ban. Ballwin Mayor Walter Young's fear that the smoking ban would leave Ballwin with nothing but fast food restaurants is coming true.

When Kirkwood was considering a smoking ban last year, David McArthur, chairman of the Kirkwood Junction Special Business District Advisory Commission, surveyed 7 Ballwin business concerning their experience of the smoking ban and reported to the Kirkwood City Council:

"Six of the seven reported losses in the bar of 35 to 50 percent. The oneexception, Mi Lupita, is a small restaurant with a six-seat bar area thatlikes the ban because it increased his non-smoking seating table capacityby five tables in the bar area. Restaurants like Longhorn Steakhouse reported bar losses of over 50 percent. No increase in restaurant sales and they now close an hour earlier every day. Also, one bar and two restaurants have closed since the ban.”

These are additional references to business loss in Ballwin suffered due to the smoking ban:

Columbia's smoking ban has likewise caused a great deal of hardship and discontent. Joe Thiel, owner of Otto’s Corner Bar and Grill, says his business is down 35 percent and names eight Columbia businesses that have gone under blaming the smoking ban: Columbia Billards, Rack ‘N’ Roll, Lou’s Palace, Bull Pen Cafe, Garfield’s Restaurant and Pub, Trattoria Strada Nova, Old Chicago, and Classy’s Restaurant. Theil and Betty Hamilton of the Tiger Club have collected enough signatures to force the Columbia City Council to either repeal the ban or put it on the ballot. I doubt that they would go to this trouble if the smoking ban had been good for their businesses.

These are articles concerning Columbia businesses distressed by the smoking ban:

This is a position paper prepared by the Boone Liberty Coalition that makes economic arguments against the Columbia smoking ban using data from other Missouri towns with smoking bans:

Finally, Helena, Bowling Green and Pueblo heart attack rate studies alluded to by Scott Caron have been debunked as junk science. Heart attack rates fluctuate from year to year, regardless of public smoking laws. Nebraska, for instance, enjoyed a 28.5 decrease in its heart attack ratein 2004 versus 2003, yet had no smoking ban. Bar and Restaurant smoking bans have been shown to leave the secondhand smoke exposure rates of nonsmokers unaffected and so it would be implausible to expect any reduction in the heart attack rate of Rolla if the Council imposed a smoking ban. The worrisome aspect of a smoking ban is the increased exposure of children to smoke in the home due to displaced smokers and so an increase in the incidence of asthma attacks in the very young:

Please forgive the length of this e-mail. I want you to have full information available to you for your decision concerning a Rolla smoking ban.

Bill Hannegan

Monday, December 03, 2007

Dr. Michael Siegel backs up KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE!

Esteemed secondhand smoke researcher and former CDC scientist, Dr. Michael Siegel, whose many bar and restaurant secondhand smoke studies helped form the basis of former Surgeon General Carmona's secondhand smoke report, made this statement on his blog yesterday:

"The smoking ban proponents who are claiming that the nonsmoker exposed for 8 hours will suffer the same health effects as if they smoked 16 cigarettes a day are wrong, and they are being deceptive, probably intentionally."

This statement backs up the contention of KEEP ST. LOUIS FREE! and Illinois Smokers Rights that the Illinois smoking ban is based on a fraud put forward by the American Cancer Society. Dr. Siegel specifically cites Smoke Free Illinois in his post. Please check out Dr. Siegel's blog post, make up your own mind, and return to comment here! Really, why should Illinoisans or St. Louisans honor such a law based on lies?