Sunday, January 27, 2008

St. Charles City Council outlaws bars!

The St. Charles City Council just voted that from now on any St. Charles bar has to earn at least fifty percent of it revenue from food sales to stay in business. No true bar sells that much food!

This action by the St. Charles City Council amounts to a form of eminent domain abuse. St. Charles bar owner Justin Donahue wants to run a bar but the Council has a better use for Justin's property. The Council wants Justin to use his property to run a restaurant instead. Justin can't oblige and so is out of luck. This loss of freedom and property rights needs to be protested. Councilman Richard Veit was the lone council member with enough decency and good sense to vote against this unjust measure.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dr. Michael Siegel upbraids Campus-Community Alliances for Smoke-Free Environments (CASE)

Epidemiologist Dr. Michael Siegel today severely rebuked Campus-Community Alliances for Smoke-Free Environments or CASE, an antismoking group working to keep the Columbia smoking ban in place, for the false claims put forward on the CASE website. Here are a few sentences of Dr. Siegel's chastisement of CASE:

According to CASE: "The same half hour of secondhand smoke can cause atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) which leads to heart attacks and strokes." This claim appears on the organization's "Get the Facts" web page. Unfortunately, if you want to get the actual facts, you'll have to turn somewhere other than this web page. Because 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure cannot possibly cause atherosclerosis. Even in active smokers, it takes many years of tobacco smoke exposure before hardening of the arteries occurs. You cannot develop atherosclerosis in 30 minutes! This claim is so blatantly false - on its face - that it is really hard to imagine that CASE actually believes the statement is true.The research article upon which this claim is based demonstrates that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke exposure increases platelet activity. Somehow, the facts got lost in the translation. Instead of stating that 30 minutes of secondhand smoke activation causes platelet activation in nonsmokers, CASE instead embellished this to state that 30 minutes of smoke exposure causes hardening of the arteries. Unfortunately, the embellishment changed an accurate scientific finding into a false representation of the science.

I have to wonder if Mayor Hindman and the Columbia City Council would have voted to impose a smoking ban on the bars and restaurants of Columbia if groups like CASE had given them the straight story on secondhand smoke two years ago.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

St. Charles Councilman Richard Veit defends "Cussing Ban" on Paul Harris Show
St. Charles City Councilman Richard Veit says he doesn't want to threaten bars, but just wants "the tools available to deal with the worst actors." Councilman Veit sounds reasonable, but I worry when a politician wants a new "tool" to control the behavior of adults on private property. When the Columbia City Council had just enacted a smoking ban, a Columbia alderman assured me that the ban wouldn't be a big problem for bars since it would be enforced on a "complaint basis". Now I read that 16 businesses have gone under in Columbia due to the smoking ban and the overall restaurant trade has shrunk five percent due to the ban. St. Charles bars had best fight like hell to hang on to their freedom.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Martin Pion rejects American Cancer Society 16 Cigarette Claim

It is important to note that Martin Pion, President of Missouri GASP (Group Against Smoking Pollution)INc., admitted in a letter to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch this week that the American Cancer Society got the Illinois smoking ban passed based on a claim both he and the ACS knew was bogus. This should raise questions for everyone concerning the validity and authority of the new Illinois law.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Freezing Casino Queen smoker calls Mississippi River the new Berlin Wall

A shivering smoker, stuck smoking on the ill-heated concrete slab the Casino Queen now designates its "smoking lounge", told me that the Mississippi River has now become the new Berlin Wall. It didn't hit me until much later how right on this statement was. As regards public smoking, Missouri is still a free society based on the personal freedoms of citizens and the private property rights of business owners. Sadly, in regards to public smoking, Illinois has become a police state.

Casino Queen business way down!

I visited the Casino Queen again tonight and stood out on the "smoking lounge" with the freezing smokers. One of the electric radiators from the night before was gone and had been replaced by a large propane heater fed by a hose to a large tank in the corner. It produced pretty much heat but folks hovered so close to it I thought they might catch fire.

One smoker told me he was a Wednesday night regular. He thought Casino Queen business was a mere third its normal size. He said that many folks only showed up at the start of the smoking ban in hopes that the Queen would loosen her slots to keep smokers. But he claimed the smoking ban had brought him no better luck. He said the lack of a $500 loss limit partly attracted him to the Queen. But as he shivered smoking, I doubted that would hold him long. He attributed the poor crowd to a one-two punch of the smoking ban and a new casino across the river. He told me to check out the Friday or Saturday crowd for a better read on the effect of the smoknig ban.

Another smoker I talked to said that a political meeting was coming up that would do something about this unworkable smoking ban. He also pointed out that the ban had been based on a phony claim that 8 hours of work in a smoking-allowed venue equals smoking a pack of cigarettes. Our criticism of this dumb claim is getting around. He said he read the debunking of the claim in a recent letter in the Belleville News-Democrat. I'll have to find out who wrote that.

Will Casino Queen air be hurt by smoking ban?

What a questionable difference in air qualtiy this smoking ban makes! The Casino Queen air filtration system had previously almost entirely removed tobacco smoke from the air. Now that no one can legally smoke in the Queen, I am sure that the excellent air filtration system will be turned off to save money. From now on, patrons and casino workers will breathe toxins and pathogens previously removed from casino air. What kind of public health benefit is that?

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

The Casino Queen's freezing smoking "lounges"

I visited the Casino Queen tonignt to check out the first day of the smoking ban. No one was smoking in the Queen and the air was a little cleaner, but not much. In the absence of smoke to clear, it was hard to tell if the air filtration system was turned on.

I visited the Queen's smoking lounge. I was astounded to step outside into a stark, partially enclosed space with a concrete floor, unheated except by two cheap electric heaters from Home Depot. One of the heaters already looked broken. It was a freezing space and the smokers there were miserable. One of the smokers suggested that the Queen could easily have made a comfortable, heated space in which patrons could smoke. Casino officials had plenty of time and resources to nicely take care of smoking patrons. But they didn't, the smoker suggested, because these officials don't want people to adjust. They are still looking for an exemption and don't want to accomodate the existing law. I agree, these freezing lounges with their joke heaters are a way of spitting on the Illinois law.

Another outdoor smoker in the "lounge" talked about how bad it was to be forced to give up a "lucky machine" in order to grab a smoke. Upon returning, the machine was often taken. He shivered.

Back in the casino, it seemed like a little more than half the machines were being used. A casino worker told me that a fire alarm a little earlier has dispersed a bigger crowd. The worker also said that "new faces" were showing up from St. Louis casinos and old patrons were abandoning the Queen for St. Louis boats. The real effect of this reshuffling of patronage will take a while to be assessed, the worker said.