Friday, December 18, 2009

St. Louis smoking ban legal challenge in AP Story

One ban the association is focusing on affects St. Louis, Mo., and contains a similar exemption for casinos. Bar and restaurant owners there are challenging the ban in court, Binoniemi said.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Bully's Sports Bar & Grill files for bankruptcy protection

"Bully’s Sports Bar & Grill, which operates 13 outlets across Northern Nevada, has filed for bankruptcy protection but plans to operate as usual in the meantime.

Owner Paul Sonner said today the impact from the state’s ban on public indoor smoking, timed with the recession’s pinch on consumers, has forced him to seek Chapter 11 reorganization.

Nevada voters in the 2006 general election approved the smoking ban in most public places with the exception of casino floors and bars that don’t serve food."

Monday, December 07, 2009

St. Louis City Smoking Ban Legal Challenge in USA TODAY

"Opponents of smoking bans try novel ways to overturn them. In St. Louis, Bill Hannegan is challenging a ban set to take effect there in January 2011 by arguing that an exemption for casinos violates the state constitution. It is, he says, "very difficult to fight" foes of smoking."

I told Judy Keen about the SmokeChoke site. Glad she included it.

Chad Garrison of the RFT picked up on this:

Sunday, December 06, 2009

The News Gazette

"It's clear Illinoisans are spending their money at Indiana and Missouri casinos. Thanks in part to Illinois' indoor smoking ban, business at Indiana's four Chicago-area casinos grew 2.2 percent last year compared with a 21.5 percent loss at the four Chicago area casinos in Illinois. The percentages are similar in the St. Louis area: adjusted gross receipts at the Missouri casinos were up 8.9 percent last year, down 18 percent at the Illinois casinos."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009

Smoking - St. Louis City BB46 FS (as Perfected 10-23-09)

Alderman Craig Schmid, who came up with the square footage bar exemption during the final meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee, said during the meeting that he wanted to avoid linking smoking privileges to low food sales because he wanted to encourage establishments that allowed smoking to serve lots of food as well.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mayor Slay

Now that Mayor Slay has announced his decision to ban smoking at Lambert Field, it is clear that he has been the driving force behind passage the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009. A while back I expressed hope that St. Louis City would never be burdened by a smoking ban. I didn't know back then that Mayor Slay would make this issue his own.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Chad Garrison of the RFT Lays Out City Casino Exemption Challenge

Yvonne Angieri's Great Op-Ed

Yvonne Angieri, a St. Louis University student who manages two area restaurants, recently wrote an op-ed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch which makes the argument against a bar and restaurant smoking ban about as well as an argument can be made. The op-ed is now only available through the Post's archive. It was well worth buying in order to post it again:

The ongoing national debate regarding the relative merits of banning smoking in restaurants and bars has sparked a great deal of controversy here in St. Louis as the issue has come closer to home. This issue interests me personally because, in addition to attending St. Louis University as a full-time undergraduate student, I also am a manager at two of St. Louis' finest restaurants: Monarch Restaurant in Maplewood and Herbie's Vintage '72 in the Central West End.

I am not a smoker, nor do I care for the smell of smoke. But I do believe that private property owners should be trusted with the choice of whether to offer either a smoke-free or a smoking environment in their own establishments to their own clientele.

Neither do I wish to be depicted as "anti-health" or "anti-progress." But couching the issue of "public" smoking solely in terms of public health is misleading.

I recently learned that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration itself has refused to impose a strict ban, as proposed by St. Louis Alderman Lyda Krewson, D-28th Ward. Furthermore, studies on exposure to secondhand smoke produce very mixed results. A 2003 study by epidemiologists James Enstrom and Geoffrey Kabat, published in the British Medical Journal, found no evidence that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer or heart disease. A recent multi-state study by RAND, the Congressional Budget Office and University of Wisconsin and Stanford University researchers found no link between smoking bans and a reduction of heart attacks or other serious diseases.

Besides, employers already have a means of providing clean indoor air for employees and patrons alike: air filtration. When Herbie's Vintage '72 opened in October, the owners installed air filtration systems in both the bar and private cigar lounge. I was pleasantly surprised by their effectiveness. After a busy night, I leave the restaurant with virtually no smell of smoke in my hair or my clothes.

The elimination of this irritation prompted me to re-evaluate my opinion of air filtration. While legal concerns keep filtration manufacturers from making health claims, their technical specifications demonstrate that their machines not only are highly effective in making indoor air cleaner than outdoor air, but they also filter out such threats as swine or avian flu viruses.

The owner of a private establishment, a "house" if you will, should have the right to offer his guests a place to smoke and to choose the most effective means of cleaning the air. Granting establishments the freedom to purify their air using effective modern technology would allow their owners the opportunity to provide a cleaner working environment for employees and achieve a harmonious balance in accommodating both smoking and non-smoking guests - as Herbie's has succeeded in doing.

It also would ensure that employees like me are secure in a workplace that is not in jeopardy because of lost revenue that might result from a smoking ban. Loss of livelihood and medical insurance caused by closures and cutbacks surely pose a serious and immediate health risk to hospitality employees. This is a real possibility: research by Federal Reserve economists blames the Illinois smoking ban for a 20 percent decline in casino revenues and holds the Columbia, Mo., smoking ban responsible for an 11 percent decrease in bar revenues. For restaurant workers supporting families, these numbers can mean financial ruin and an actual decline in standard of living.

As a manager of a St. Louis city restaurant, I want to know that my interests and those of my colleagues truly are being protected. I am not alone in my concern. St. Louis County Executive Charlie A. Dooley, the Missouri Restaurant Association and the Independent Restaurant and Tavern Owners Association of Greater St. Louis all have opposed a city and county smoking ban in order to avert the grave potential economic damage of such a restriction.

It is clear to many people that a smoking ban would be an unnecessary and intrusive measure, one that would achieve the opposite of its original intent. Instead of protecting workers, it would hurt them. Government exists to safeguard the lives, freedom and self-determination of its citizens. St. Louis would thus do well to live up to its good name and look out for all its citizens.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

McGraw Millhaven Interview

Columbia Missourian

Bill Hannegan — an activist in St. Louis who heads Keep St. Louis Free, which, according to its Web site, "fights to protect the personal freedoms and property rights of St. Louisans" — has voiced his negative opinion of the new law.

"We knew it was going to be a tough fight in St. Louis County, and we are not surprised we lost, but we are disappointed," he said.

Other areas that have enacted similar bans have experienced business and job losses, Hannegan said.

He cited a study by The Regional Economist on revenue lost by casinos from the statewide smoking ban in Illinois to illustrate his point. According to the study, Illinois had a tax loss of more than $200 million in 2008 alone, and local communities lost over $12 million in tax revenue.

Additionally, Hannegan said that Chad Cotti of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh predicted a 20 percent job loss among bar employees in St. Louis city because of the ban.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pastor Harold Hendrick Ad Against Prop N Running on KSIV

Harry Belli Ad Against Prop N Running on KMOX

102909_Prop_N_spot[1] 0:30 3

South County Times

"I would like to see the smoking issue be one of marketplace decision. Smoke free bars and restaurants would attract the healthiest of patrons. Those that still permit smoking would either change in the face of client choice or thrive with patrons who still choose a smoky environment. Let the marketplace decide."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Smoking ban may depend on how many smokers show up

The passage -- or failure -- of the proposed St. Louis County smoking ban may come down to how many smokers show up to vote.
That's a dynamic both sides agree exists, as they target their final marketing toward the pockets of voters most sympathetic with their cause. Voter turnout Tuesday in St. Louis County is projected at 15-to-20 percent.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Councilman Barbara Fraser

In a debate Monday, my opponent, Councilman Barbara Fraser, claimed that smoking bans nationally save a half a million lives each year. The Post-Dispatch printed her statement today. No one mentioned the problem with her statement except me. What is going on here?

Councilman Fraser's statement:
"Studies show that smoking bans save a half-million lives a year nationally — half the population of St. Louis County," she said Monday at a forum of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Smoking Ban Perfected by BOA

On Friday the Board of Alderman voted 20-7 to "perfect" the smoking ban bill. "Perfected" means this is the bill they will vote to pass or fail. They will amend it no further. They have not yet voted to make it a law.

The bill had five proposed amendments over a three hour plus debate. Of the five only one was passed. The amendment increased the square footage from 1500 to 2000 and further excluded bathroom, storage and kitchen space from the total amount. The exclusion is for 5 years and no one under 21 can be allowed to enter. Food has to be incidental (although that is not defined as a percentage).

Of note, Alderwomen Triplett introduced a bill to pull out the casino exemption. It was almost a complete role reversal in voting. Those that support a ban voted against pulling the exemption and those that were against the ban voted to pull the exemption(note that not all voted that way). It seems that at a certain dollar point they no longer buy into the health argument. That dollar point just happens to be beyond restaurants and most bars. Probably the most stunning was Phylis Young. Her district represents a large percentage of restaurants and bars such as Soulard and Downtown. Most of those will be covered by the ban. When the amendment came up to strip the exclusion she fought hard to keep it, yet she easily voted to ban smoking everywhere.

Quite frankly I understand why they don't want to ban smoking at the Casino. Its simply money the city can't afford to give up. When Illinois banned smoking, the admission tax the city collects went from $5 million to $10 million. They would lose millions beyond that in retail tax and employment tax. Yet the city is still going to lose revenue from bars and restaurants. Those employees that chose to work at a bar or restaurant will be just as unemployed. I guess freedom comes at a price and its more than most of us can afford.

Tony Palazzolo

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today's Chicago Sun-Times on Smoking Bans and Heart Attacks

The largest study of this issue, which used nationwide data instead of looking at cherry-picked communities, concluded that smoking bans in the U.S. "are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction." It also found that "large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a workplace ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature."

That study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in March, suggests that publication bias -- the tendency to report positive findings and ignore negative ones -- explains the "consistent" results highlighted by the institute's committee. But even though the panelists say they tried to compensate for publication bias by looking for relevant data that did not appear in medical journals, they ignored the national bureau's paper, along with analyses that found no declines in heart attacks following smoking bans in California, Florida, New York, Oregon, England, Wales and Scotland.,CST-EDT-sullum21.article#

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Smoke-Free St Louis done?

Last week at the Board of Alderman the smoking ban was tabled. Apparently that is not all that has been tabled. Apparently Smoke-Free St Louis has lost its funding. We have wondered what has happened to them. The blogging has stopped. The main facebook page is no longer there. They had no one at the what should have been the most important Board of Alderman meeting.

The fact that they had no one is an important point. Once they were no longer being paid to push a smoking ban, its suddenly not that important. This was the meeting that they would perfect the bill. This meeting would set the exemptions that would what businesses would legally allow smoking. This repercussions of this meeting would last for many years and they didn't have one person show. On the other side, not one person was being paid to be there. Many residents and business owners were there showing support to kill the bill.

How serious should the Board of Alderman take Smoke-Free St Louis? Once they were not being paid - they are no longer interested. Apparently it is not a matter of life or death - just a matter of a paycheck.

I do feel sorry for Diane Benenati and all those that lost their job. Its a tough time to be looking for work. Good luck to them all.

Tony Palazzolo

Edit: as Joe pointed out, the main facebook page is still there.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

From Wash. to Pa., smoking bans spark backlash

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - From West Virginia to the West Coast, smokers are trying to fend off further restrictions on their habit, and local officials are starting to listen.

In some cases, smoking bans have even been rescinded or postponed - including in the city of Spokane.

Opponents of smoking restrictions say these rollbacks are largely driven by economic woe, with local governments wary of imposing new costs or business burdens on restaurants and bars that may already be struggling.

"The economy is in a slump, and these bans almost always hurt the shot-and-beer-type bars and some restaurants," said Gary Nolan, U.S. regional director of the Citizens Freedom Alliance, which opposes laws that restrict smoking.

"If times are trying now in the hospitality industry, you're compounding that by telling bar owners they can't cater to their own crowd," he said.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Cancer and Heart Disease Epidemiologist Writes to St. Louis Board of Aldermen


Jonathan Sternberg Promise Legal to St. Louis Smoking Ban

“I can assure you that if St. Louis and/or St. Louis County pass smoking ban ordinances, they will face a challenge” on the same basis as the Kansas City one, Sternberg said in the email.

Dr. Michael Siegel Blows Whistle on Stanton Glantz's Heart Attack Meta-Analysis

"What readers need to understand is that a meta-analysis is only as good as the individual studies that go into it. If the individual study conclusions are invalid, then the meta-analysis will be invalid as well. This is exactly the case with the present study.

I have previously analyzed each of the published studies on smoking bans and heart attacks and explained why the conclusions of these studies are invalid. You can't just combine the studies in a meta-analysis and argue that suddenly the conclusion becomes valid. The meta-analysis does not account for the severe flaws in these studies, including the failure to adequately rule out the possibility that the observed declines in heart attacks merely reflected a combination of random variation plus an already declining secular trend in heart attacks over time."

Thursday, October 08, 2009

New Exemption Added to St. Louis City Smoking Ban

The Health and Human Services Committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen added an amendment to the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009 that allows smoking in bars 1500 square feet or less that do not admit minors. The exemption lasts for only five years.

Even with this new exemption, the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act is far more stringent than the proposed County ban. The County ban will allow smoking in almost any establishment of any size willing to claim that less than 25 percent of its gross revenues are food sales and has no sunset provision. In contrast, the proposed City ban exempts only bars that are smaller than 1500 ft. and then only for 5 years This would put the more greatly threatened St. Louis City bar industry at a competitive disadvantage with St. Louis County.

If a smoking ban has to be passed, why not mirror the County law as Alderman Conway proposed yesterday or else exempt age restricted establishments as the Tennessee smoking ban does? Such an exemption would be keep minors out of venues that allow smoking, whereas the County ordinance does not. Plus it would not favor one type of business over another as the County ordinance does, and so would not be subject to the legal challenge the County ordinance will likely face if it passes. Exempting “over 21″ or “over 18″ venues would greatly minimize any business loss a smoking ban would bring to St. Louis City.

If this law passes in its current form, we'll have to challenge it in court or put reasonable exemptions on the ballot.

Friday, October 02, 2009

It's Easy to Step Outside

Five St. Louis City residents were shot yesterday in four separate shootings between 5:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., the very span of time during which a smoking ban would most often put bar and restaurant patrons out on the sidewalk. The Post story seems to indicate that these people just happened to be outside and were the victims of random violence. Is it prudent to put bar and restaurant patrons outside given the real possibility of lethal, random violence? I would feel safer inside a bar with good air filtration than standing on the street after dark in St. Louis.

"The second shooting happened at 8:09 p.m. Thursday in the 700 block of Aubert Avenue near the intersection of North Kingshighway and Delmar Boulevard. A 31-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman told police that they were outside when suspects began firing shots at them. The man was shot in the knee and the woman was shot in her shoulder. Both were taken to an area hospital where they are listed in stable condition.

The third shooting happened at 8:51 p.m. Thursday in the 3200 block of Carter Avenue near the intersection of North Florissant Avenue and North Grand Boulevard. A 35-year-old man told police that he was outside when a gunman came out of an alley and shot him several times in the back. The victim is in stable condition at an area hospital."

Thursday, October 01, 2009

American Cancer Society's 16 Cigarette Claim Used to Pass Ballwin Smoking

"She said that 2 hours in a smoking environment as a worker is the same as ingesting 4 cigarettes in 2 hours as a non-smoker. In an 8 hour shift, non-smokers are ingesting 16 cigarettes or ¾ of a pack."

Honestly, if that were true I would vote for a smoking ban too, unless the owner put a skull and crossbones on his front door.

City Hookah Lounge Protests St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009

At the event, Garcia stated that with the threat of a the ban, she doesn't have the time to even fully focus on her wedding, but she is not willing to giving up their business without a fight.

"Until everything is resolved, there will be a rally against (the ban) every day at the Petra Café and Hookah Lounge," Garcia said. "My personal message to everyone is that if you enjoy hookah, keep smoking it. If you are a cigarette smoker, keep smoking it."

Garcia urges people to make a stand against the smoking ban.

"If you really want to make a difference you can always write to the government," Garcia said. "But the main goal is just to show that it would take a lot more than a ban by the government to ever shut us down."

Financial Impact of St. Louis City Smoking Ban

The co-author of this study, economist Dr. Michael Marlow, has offered to assess the likely financial impact of the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009. The Health and Human Services Committee of the St. Louis Board of Alderman should take Dr. Marlow up on that offer.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Letter to Ron Wilson of the WSJ concerning Glantz and Lightwood

Mr. Wilson,
St. Louis City is currently considering a smoking ban. I have widely distributed the attached study to St. Louis lawmakers and the St. Louis press. The error of the research by Lightwood and Glantz is explained by the authors of this study in the following two paragraphs and is clear to everyone here. Therefore a reduction of the heart attack rate in St. Louis City has not been put forward as a serious argument for a smoking ban. I wish you would provide your readers across the country with the same full information St. Louis has been lucky enough to have.

"We find no evidence that legislated U.S. smoking bans were associated with short‐term reductions in hospital admissions for acute myocardial infarction or other diseases in the elderly, children or working‐age adults. We find some evidence that smoking bans are associated with a reduced all‐cause mortality rate among the elderly (‐1.4%) but only at the 10% significance level.

We also show that there is wide year‐to‐year variation in myocardial infarction death and admission rates even in large regions such as counties and hospital catchment areas. Comparisons of small samples (which represent subsamples of our data and are similar to the samples used in the previous published literature) might have led to atypical findings. It is also possible that comparisons showing increases in cardiovascular events after a smoking ban were not submitted for publication because the results were considered implausible. Hence, the true distribution from single regions would include both increases and decreases in events and a mean close to zero, while the published record would show only decreases in events. Thus, publication bias could plausibly explain why dramatic short‐term public health improvements were seen in prior studies of smoking bans."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Smoking bans have no effect on heart attack rates.


A recently released study by researchers from the Rand Corporation, the Congressional Budget Office, the University of Wisconsin, and Stanford University, "CHANGES IN U.S. HOSPITALIZATION AND MORTALITY RATES FOLLOWING SMOKING BANS", finds that smoking bans had no effect on hospitalizaton, heart attack or mortality rates in communities that impose them. The researchers found that heart attack rates naturally fluctuate from year to year. Smoking bans had no influence on the fluctuation!

A study to be released soon by smoking ban activist Stanton Glantz claims otherwise. But these researchers found that the studies which compose Glantz's meta analysis were the result of researchers cherry picking the towns studied so that a dip in the heart attack rate followed a smoking ban.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Warning Letter to St. Louis Police Officers Association

Dear President Weigert,

I am writing to warn you about the smoking ban proposed by Alderman Lyda Krewson and currently being considered by the St. Louis Board of Aldermen's Health and Human Services Committee. Unlike the smoking ban proposed in St. Louis County, the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009 would ban smoking in all work vehicles. This ordinance would require St. Louis City police officers to park and exit their patrol cars in order to smoke. Given the dangers police officers are subject to when patrolling the streets of St. Louis City, this seems like an unreasonable and special restriction the St. Louis Police Officers Association should protest. Again, the proposed St. Louis County smoking ban contains no such restriction.

I also want to warn you that the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009 would continuously place bar patrons on sidewalks outside clubs, taverns and bars until 3:00 am. Since St. Louis City clubs, taverns and bars are often embedded in neighborhoods, the problems with noise complaints due to large numbers of patrons smoking outdoors will be huge.

Here is a link to a short video which documents the problems of noise and litter a smoking ban has brought to New York City. When this video was made, less than 20 percent New York City residents smoked. In contrast, 30 percent of St. Louis City residents currently smoke. The problems with smokers on the streets, especially for neighborhoods with bars embedded in them, will be far worse in St. Louis. Please also find attached a collection of excerpts from New York City newpapers detailing the troubles the smoking ban brought to New York City police, businesses and residents. St. Louis City police don't need such trouble.

Furthermore, please consider that placing bar patrons on the street leaves them vulnerable and inviting targets of harassment, robbery and random assault. The recent drive by shooting of Committeeman Andre Williams as he stood outside the Crocodile Lounge underscores this. Why place smokers where he stood?

Finally, when a large number of bar patrons are regularly entering and exiting an establishment, it becomes very difficult for staff to keep minors out of a bar. Greater access of minors to alcohol, along with heavy drinkers driving farther to find bars that still allow smoking, partly explains why a recent study found that communities that ban smoking in bars experience on average a 13 percent increase in drunk driving fatalities. The death rate increased the longer a ban remained in place. The St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009 will cause your officers to have to deal with more DUI's and deaths from intoxicated driving. Please find the study attached.

President Weigert, please urge the Health and Human Services Committee to exempt work vehicles such as police cars and "over 21" venues such as bars, taverns and clubs from the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009. These exemptions would decrease the work your officers can expect from a smoking ban and would also make that work safer and easier.


Bill Hannegan

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Its easy to step outside

The headline on billboards in St Louis City paid for by Smoke-Free St Louis says its easy to step outside. While stepping outside is easy it also brings many more problems.

The difference between St Louis City and St Louis County is the city is predominately mixed use commercial and residential. Our bars are in close proximity to residential housing. Its part of the charm of living in the city. In the county, bars and other business have been kept away from residential neighborhoods. If patrons are forced to "step outside" bar owners are powerless to control noise they make. Is it really possible to keep several people who have been drinking to keep the noise down. Most bars and restaurants that have outdoor patios already close them before 10PM to satisfy residents. How will neighbors take it when at 1AM on several nights a week there are more people outside than inside.

There are also areas in the city that its unsafe to "step outside". This has been underscored by the recent tragic shooting of Committeeman Andre Williams who was standing outside a bar. Does the city really want to push patrons outside putting them in danger.

Smoking is also banned in work vehicles and government vehicles. This directly affects the St Louis Police Department. Smoking will be (and may be already be) banned in precincts. It will be banned also in police vehicles. In order for a officer to smoke, they will have to step outside their squad car. That would put them in danger even in good neighborhoods much less bad neighborhoods. This will force them to either "step outside" and put their life in danger or simply break the law. Is it fair to ask those that are charged to enforce the law to either break the law or risk their lives to do something that is completely legal?

One last thought, the city currently has over 100,000 thousand cigarette, cigar, pipe and hookah smokers. That compromises almost half of all adults in the city of St Louis. Is it really fair to ask them all to "step outside" when its rainy, when its cold and when its dangerous.

Tony Palazzolo

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Smoking bans make no difference!


A recently released study by researchers from the Rand Corporation, the Congressional Budget Office, the University of Wisconsin, and Stanford University, "CHANGES IN U.S. HOSPITALIZATION AND MORTALITY RATES FOLLOWING SMOKING BANS", finds that smoking bans had no effect on hospitalizaton, heart attack or mortality rates in communities that impose them. The researchers found that heart attack rates naturally fluctuate from year to year. Smoking bans had no influence on the fluctuation!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Are St. Louis City Contractors ready for heavy smoking ban fines?

"A nearly yearlong crackdown on smoking at construction sites around the city by the Buildings Department has resulted in almost 1,000 violations being issued and $1.8 million in fines, The Post has learned."

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Likely Trash and Noise from a St. Louis City Smoking Ban

When this video was made, less than 20 percent New York City residents smoked. In contrast, 30 percent of St. Louis City residents currently smoke. The problems with smokers on the streets, especially for neighborhoods with bars embedded in them, will be far worse in St. Louis.

Check out this update concerning the sound effects of the NYC smoking ban:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Missouri Clergy Against Gambling Expansion Opposes Fraser's Smoking Ban

"The proposed smoking ban in St. Louis County will be a vote to expand gambling in the area. Exempting casinos from the ban takes even more money from the community as well as the ability to compete, and empowers casinos with both."

Friday, August 28, 2009

Charlie Dooley signs Smoking Ban Bill

On November 3rd the smoking ban bill will be decided by the voters. Its an interesting dilemma for a group that opposes smoking bans. First the exemptions are for the most part reasonable. Most bars, tobacco shops and cigar bars are exempted from the ban. No matter the outcome of the vote - it will be very hard for pro-ban organizations to make another move. That is the reason they pushed for Dooley to veto it. Either outcome hurts any chances of getting a regressive smoking ban.

Yet it is still a smoking ban. Restaurants, pool halls and bowling alleys just to mention the obvious will be forced by the government to not allow smoking. The language of a smoking ban is inclusive enough to have to exempt private homes. That is the problem with smoking bans even with exemptions. Nearly every office in St Louis doesn't allow smoking in the office area. Usually they have their employees go out to the warehouse. That will be illegal if this passes.

It is still the loss of rights of the business owner and private citizen to make choices. As it is now the business owner gets to decide if they allow smoking. In St Louis County nearly 60% of restaurants have made the choice to go smoke-free. They have made that decision because that is the type of customers they cater to. If this passes, those restaurants will have lost their niche.

Now it will be up to the voters to determine this issue. I for one have faith in the voters of St Louis County. Most reasonable people may not like smoking at a restaurant, but feel that they can make their own choices. Most reasonable people don't want government micromanaging our lives. Most reasonable won't vote to increase regulation. History is also on our side. Most bans that go to the polls don't pass. Kirkwood didn't pass a ban in 2006. The voters of this state wouldn't pass a cigarette increase. Not that I believe this bill is destined to fail, but its not a slam dunk to pass. It might come down to the pro-ban groups decision to back or not back. Would they push a bill that they have strongly recommended Dooley veto? All I know is that the 3rd of November St Louis County residents will vote. How they vote will determine the freedoms of entire metropolitan community.

Tony Palazzolo

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Charlie Dooley Decides Update

I have gotten word from a very reliable source that Charlie Dooley will sigh Barbara Fraser's smoking ban this morning. I have heard that he is worried about vetoing a ban right before an election, but not doing anything about this unfair law that he opposes makes him look weak.

Charlie Dooley Decides

I got word last night that County Executive Dooley will announce his decision concerning the smoking ban this afternoon. What can he do but veto it?

Friday, August 21, 2009

County Bowlers Protest Smoking Ban

Check out video of the protest by St. Louis bowlers at the County Council meeting last week on Scott Simon's Bowling Hood:

Correction Concerning Darlene Green

In an August 10th post on this blog, I said that City of St. Louis Comptroller Darlene Green had threatened a lawsuit over Kurt Odenwald's attempt to ban smoking at Lambert Field. Actually, things never got that far before Odenwald's law was voted down by the Council.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bill McClellan on County Smoking Ban

"No longer, of course. Those of us who live in St. Louis County are going to have a chance to vote this November on a plan to limit smoking. The plan would ban smoking in many so-called public places. I say so-called because the ban would impact restaurants which are owned by private individuals. I have a hard time thinking of them as public places.

To me, privately owned means privately owned. If the owner wants to cater to non-smokers — and we're the majority — he or she can ban smoking.

Bear in mind, too, that the ban is not absolute. If food is less than 25 percent of an establishment's gross income, the establishment can apply for an exemption. Also, casinos are exempt. Also, private clubs are exempt.

These exemptions would seem to put the lie to the notion that we are attempting to do this for the sake of the employees who would otherwise be exposed to secondhand smoke. Why should the employees of a casino be any less deserving of our protection than the employees of a restaurant? What about employees at private clubs?

Of course, the supporters of the ban would argue that this is just a start.

To me, that's frightening."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Charlie Dooley, please veto this unfair smoking ban!


Dr. Geoffrey Kabat writes to County Council

Dr. Geoffrey Kabat, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at Department of Epidemiology and Population Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, two weeks ago wrote a letter to the St. Louis County Council indicating that the best secondhand smoke research might give the Council more latitude to consider air filtration rather than smoking bans in County workplaces.

Kabat St Louis County Letter[2]

Monday, August 10, 2009

Concerning Barbara Fraser's Latest Smoking Ban

Read the fine print bar owners. Can you sell your bar as a smoking establishment after this passes? Bet not! Want to open another bar in the County that allows smoking? Can't do that!

Restaurants that have a late night bar scene independent of the restaurant such as Bar Napoli and Monarch Restaurant will really get unfaily hammered by this law. Monarch recently tried to go smoke-free but took too big of hit. So they installed air filtration and now allow smoking. Keep St. Louis Free will warn every restaurant in St. Louis County about this hurtful discrimination and hopefully stir up some protest. Monarch recently tried to go smoke-free but took too big of hit. So they installed air filtration and now allow smoking.

Are the smoking lounges at Lambert Field exempt? Darlene Green threatened a lawsuit last time Odenwald tried to ban smoking at Lambert Field.

Expect a legal challenge concerning the constitutionality of the casino exemption. An attorney who specializes in Missouri smoking ban litigation warned us that the casino exemption violates the Special Laws Clause of the Missouri Constituion since casinos in Missouri are a "closed-ended class" and there is no "substantial justification" for exempting them.

If secondhand smoke is really the issue, why not pass the same air filtration exemption Chicago passed: if a venue could allow smoking and still make its air cleaner than the air outdoors, it could continue to allow smoking.

Why not wait to see what the City will next month? Economists have predicted that the City will get hit far harder by ban than the County. One economist predicts a City/County ban would cut City bar employment 19.7 percent. Another predicts that the Lyda Krewson ban would cut revenues of restaurants up to 54 percent and cut bar revenues up to 83 percent. Don't be surprised if the ban gets voted down in the City.

Why not just exempt the freestanding bars and bars in restaurants? Or any room that you have to be 21 to enter. According to the latest survey of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services only 30 percent of County residents favor banning smoking in bars and cocktail lounges.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

St Louis County Smoking Ban

In the county - every bill has to be voted on and passed two times in order to become law. The Council voted and passed a smoking ban last Tuesday....or did they. The bill they passed has Casino and limited bar exemptions. They earlier voted on a bill that did not contain those exemptions and it did not pass. They used the same bill, added the exemptions and voted again passing it. Since they actually killed the bill in the first vote they couldn't use the same bill and vote again on it. They plan to intoduce a new bill and vote on next Tuesday. The new bill will have modifications. What changes those will be is still unknown. First we have a bill that exempts the casinos. Then we have a bill that exempts no one. Then we have a bill that exempts casinos and some bars. Now there is yet another bill that will up for a vote. In yet another twist, since they are out of time to get two votes in before the deadline. They will have to get a court order to get it on the ballot in November.

The yes votes for the bill included Councilman Stenger. His district is the one that will be the most affected by passage. It contains almost 25% of the bars in St Louis County that is divided into 7 districts. It would seem that he has the most to lose by voting for a smoking ban. We highly suggest that if you haven't called him, do it ASAP. His direct number is 314-615-5442.

Tony Palazzolo

Monday, August 03, 2009

James Repace and County Casinos

Dear Councilman Fraser,

Last meeting, Mr. Pion presented a study by James Repace to the Council arguing that a certain number of casino workers would die each year if the Council does not intervene.

Please take any death toll put forward by James Repace with a grain of salt. Shortly after Dr. Repace completed his Pennsylvania casino study, I caught him floating conflicting press releases three days apart, one claiming 44 Pennsylvania casino workers would die annually due to secondhand smoke exposure and another claiming merely 8. The Pennsylvania Business Times asked me to write an editorial challenging Dr. Repace on the disparity. Shortly afterwards, Reason Magazine had a bit of fun with the affair. I

I don't like to be mean-spirited toward Dr. Repace, but please don't rely soley on Dr. Repace's calculations when considering a smoking ban for County casinos. According to Martin Pion, Repace today only claims 6 deaths per year. Don't base a ban on smoking in St. Louis County casinos on research as shaky and confused as this.

Bill Hannegan

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Possible St. Louis County Public Smoking Compromise Law

Let's keep St. Louis a free and tolerant city! What about a reasonable compromise concerning the public smoking policy in St. Louis County? This possible public smoking law for St. Louis County 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 room when smoking in that room is allowed.

6 air changes per hour of air filtration and air cleaning, or some equivalent air purification process, shall be ongoing in any room where smoking is allowed.

An air purification system shall be defined as an electrically powered motor and blower in a self contained box used to draw contaminated and redistribute cleaned air through a series of filters comprising of at least

1. A hospital grade HEPA media filter with a certified efficiency rating of at least 99.97 that is rated to capture particulate material to a minimum size of .03 micron that includes but is not limited to dust, dirt, environment tobacco smoke, pollen, mold spores, viruses, bacteria and allergens.

2. An adsorbent filter such as Carbon of other sorbent and Chemi-sorbent materials with an absorption rate of at least 85% efficiency to capture Volatile Organic Compounds such as but not limited to aldyhydes, ammonias, gaseous components of environmental tobacco smoke, solvents and odors. The filter should contain at least one pound of adsorbent media to each 100 cfm (cubic feet of air per minute) of air cleaner production.

The system or combination of systems shall be capable of creating at least 12 complete air changes per hour in the occupied space or one air change per hour (ACH) every ten minutes with a first pass efficiency of at least 95%

The system shall also utilize a multiple direction airflow pattern (Coanda); this will ensure maximum distribution and collection of indoor air

Additional technologies may be used beyond, but not in place of the above stated technologies including but not limited to polarized filters, ionization supplement filters and photo catalytic oxidation systems

Maintenance of Systems
The purification systems and filters must be maintained to the individual manufacturers specifications in order to insure maximum efficiency of said systems.

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 that allow smoking could be retrofitted without expensive ductwork or other construction costs.

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.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Apology to Councilman Fraser

I regret the harsh tone I took against Councilman Fraser in this interview with Mark Reardon. Councilman Fraser is a very nice lady who I am sure is also a very skillful lawmaker. She has alway been very nice to me. I am also sure she means well with her ban and does not think she is threatening small business people in St. Louis County. But I know that she is making many of these business people sick with worry. One bar owner who had just installed air cleaners burst into tears when he heard of her intentions. It is hard for me not to push back in every way possible in their defense.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

St Louis County Ban Update

As the meeting tonight gets closer we have some new information. We already know that the casinos will be exempt from the ban. What the council is considering is a bar exemption. This may sound like a promising development but it quite the opposite. Nearly all bars serve some percentage of food. In fact, if a bar wants to be open on Sundays it has to make at least 50% of its revenue from food. Bars have spent along time developing their business to meet this criteria. The definition of what bars will be exempt from the ban will 20% food revenue or less. Nearly all bars will be covered by the ban. This will be misleading to voters if it makes it to a ballot. While a strict ban may or may not have the voters support, a ban exempting bars very well may pass. What most voters won't know is that virtually no bars will be exempt.

Is this being done on purpose or is it a lack of understanding? I don't know the answer. This is just one problem of rushing this key legislation.

Tony Palazzolo

Update: Barbara Fraser was on KMOX - per her the 20% food revenue is now 25% which makes little difference.