Thursday, May 29, 2008

Kansas City lawsuit may strike down Missouri smoking bans!

A lawsuit was filed last Friday challenging the constitutionality of the Kansas City smoking ban. The Kansas City business owners who brought the suit argue that state law clearly allows smoking in certain classes of businesses with language that disallows local government from imposing further smoking restrictions on these protected businesses. I have spoken extensively with the lawyer who is handling this case, Jonathan Sternberg, and he believes his chances of success are very strong. I was thinking of financing this lawsuit at one point, but I am glad a Kansas City business group has taken charge. Some Missouri smoking bans are currently compliant with state law by exempting these protected classes of businessses, but others are not. The smoking ban in Columbia, for instance, will be struck down if these Kansas City business owners prevail, as would, I suspect, the Ballwin and Arnold bans and the proposed St. Charles ban.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

St. Charles smoking ban warning!

The city of St. Charles will consider putting a smoking ban on the ballot that exempts the Ameristar Casino. What an unjust and irresponsible suggestion by antismoking groups. I wrote this today to Mayor York and the St. Charles City Council:

Dear Mayor York,

Just released research predicts that a St. Charles smoking ban would increase St. Charles drunk driving fatalities by 13 percent or more as smokers drive farther to find venues in which they can both smoke and drink. This means a St. Charles smoking ban would put innocent people, people who never set foot in bars, at new and deadly risk. Today I calledone of the researchers, Dr. Chad Cotti, and he confirmed that the average community imposing a smoking ban will experience, on average, a 13 percent increase in drunk driving deaths. Some communities, he warns, will experience a much higher loss of life. Please take this grim warning into account when considering a smoking ban for St. Charles.

Sincerely, Bill Hannegan

Monday, May 26, 2008

Fairness Doctrine to help counter antismoking misinformation?

A few days ago, I contacted KTRS to find out what it would cost to run informational ads to counter the smoking ban ads now run during the baseball games. $700 for 30 seconds! That price is a bit steep for our grassroots organization. Does anyone know if any form of the “Fairness Doctrine” still exists to help bring balance to the air waves on this issue?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Hulshof law threatens freedom!

Congressman Kenny Hulshof has co-sponsored a bill that would make "cyberbullying" a federal crime.

Hulshof's law will threaten the free exchange of ideas online and should be opposed. We don't need police monitoring our personal exchanges in cyberspace. What happened to Megan is a very rare occurence that should not be used as an excuse to restrict our freedoms of expressive association.

Like Bill McClellan, I am also very troubled by the Draconian sentences being handed out to fellows caught looking at child pornography online. Like Pete Townshend, some of these people claim to have been looking at these pictures merely to understand the abuse they themselves suffered as children. I find that plausible. Anyway, why shouldn't I be able to look at any image I can pull up on my screen, especially an image I have not paid for? Shouldn't the state only pursue and punish those that arrange for children to perform sexual acts, both on and off camera?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Smoking ban proponent asks, "Can we compromise?".

A smoking ban proponent has started a thread on Smoking Topix called "Can we compromise?" that seeks discuss moderate public smoking laws that will serve cities like St. Louis better than a strict ban. So far this thread has attracted over 800 posts.

This same smoking ban proponent just posted an excellent comment under my recent online ventilation letter to the Post-Dispatch. I wish the antismoking movement had more members like this fellow! Here is his St. Louis Post-Dispatch comment:

I have to admit that I am definitely pro ban. I believe that second hand smoke is harmful. I also believe that some type of compromise is possible. Although air filtration systems and ventilation have faults, they do clean the air. There will be some residual second hand smoke but there will be less radon and less pollutants from sources such as auto exhaust. I do not think that children (anyone under the age of 18) should be subjected to second hand smoke. I also think that it is important for people to be able to go out to eat without having to be subjected to second hand smoke. It would be nice if the market forces took care of that, but unfortunately it is not happening on a large enough scale. Many of us have to eat where smoking is allowed (in the smoking section). It would be great if we did not have to do that.

I feel that filtration and ventilation could be used to allow smoking provided that there was a measure of the level of nicotine or another component of second hand smoke and this level was kept below a certain level. I would further submit that the venues that allow smoking only be accessable to individuals 18 or over regardless of whether alcohol is served or not.

This would give St Louis smokers a place to congregate and smoke. At the same time it would provide places to go for those of us who feel that the evidence that second hand smoke is harmful.

Obviously this is a compromise that will not sit well with the hard liners on either side of the smoking ban issue, but will probably suit the needs of the vast majority of voters who would welcome lawmakers who had the foresight to look over the rabid comments from either side and come up with a fair and equitable solution for all.

— Nick
8:25 pm May 19th, 2008

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Jason Vander Weele and Jessica Mitchell hired to threaten St. Louis freedom!

The American Cancer Society has hired two people, Jason Vander Weele and Jessica Mitchell, to push for a further loss of freedom and property rights in St. Louis. Two full-time people can cause more mischief than one, so ordinary St. Louis citizens and business owners can look forward to spending time and money defending their rights from these paid activists.

Months ago, Smoke Free St. Louis City promised an interactive website. But they haven’t taken a single comment yet. Where is the debate?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Phyllis Schlafly killed Odenwald's 2006 smoking ban

St. Louis mom and pop bars and restaurants should always be grateful to Phyllis Schlafly. She led a group of conservative organizations, including Casino Watch, Concerned Women for America, Missouri Family Network and Eagle Forum, that stopped County Councilman Kurt Odenwald from putting a smoking ban with a casino exemption on the ballot back in 2006. When Odenwald dropped the casino exemption due to their pressure, the smoking ban died.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Smoking ban would increase St. Louis drunk driving deaths!

New research warns that a strict St. Louis smoking ban, by causing folks who like to smoke and drink at the same time to drive farther to find and return from "smoking allowed" venues, would increase the St. Louis drunk driving death toll at least 13 percent. This means people who have nothing to do with smoking and drinking in bars would die due to the smoking ban. I find this unacceptable public health policy! Public health laws should be judged by their effects in the real world rather than their good intentions. A common sense public health policy for St. Louis would allow many well-ventilated or filtrated “smoking allowed” venues within walking distance of most homes.

Protect St. Louis Symphony Orchestra workers?

If St. Louis City needs to pass a smoking ban to protect bartenders from tobacco smoke, should it also enact a workplace sound law to protect St. Louis Symphony Orchestra workers from their own music? Loud music is an even bigger problem in St. Louis bars and concert venues. Bartenders at the Pageant can't plug their ears and fill drink orders. A friend who works at the Pageant says this is a real problem. I have always said that I wouldn't let my daughter work at the Pageant not because of the smoke but because of the sound levels.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

500 Signatures Today!

Over the past week or so, my wife collected 500 signatures for the ballot initiative against eminent domain abuse in Missouri and I proudly turned them in today at the Missourian Citizens for Property Rights St. Louis office. I was very pleased to find Darla Maloney, former head of the Missouri Libertarian Party and partner with me at Keep St. Louis Free! behind the desk, just back from 14 hour days with the Ron Paul campaign. We still have two more days. Please sign if you haven't already.