Monday, July 27, 2009

St Louis County Smoking Ban

Councilwoman Barbara Fraser has proposed that a smoking ban go on the November Ballot. The exact language is not available as to who and what it covers. According to her it will be modeled after proposed bans in Clayton and The City of St Louis. It will cover bar and restaurants. She is in favor and it will exempt casinos.

This certainly caught us by surprise. Bill received a phone call from The Post Dispatch looking for a comment. Martin Pion from MO GASP was caught by surprise. I think this was a surprise even to the council.

Why now and why in this way. Councilwomen Barbara Fraser is running for 24th State Senate Seat. A little over a week ago quarterly campaign finance reports were announced. Essentially she has raised right at $60,000 and her opponent Sam Page has raised $250,000. Campaigns are won and lost for the most part with money. She needed a way to get her name out to quickly raise money. My best guess is that over the weekend they brainstormed. On Monday morning she asked for the legislation to be written up for the Tuesday Council Meeting.

If this had been planned: She would have given more time to get the bill perfected before a vote. Now it must be pushed through in only a few weeks. Now a bill that has severe implications for the economic stability and the freedoms of St Louisians to choose is being rushed to a vote.

While we wouldn't support any smoking ban - a ban that is being pushed through like this is unacceptable. There will be very little time for business owners and voters to review the legislation. There is very little time for the public to give input. The first hearing on the bill was given such short notice only two people attended to testify.

St Louis County doesn't need a smoking ban. Currently, nearly 60% of restaurants in St Louis County are smoke-free voluntarily. Patrons and employees can easily avoid smoke if they feel it is a danger. In fact, if a person wanted to work at a smoking allowed establishment - it would be more difficult than at one that doesn't allow smoking. There is a fundamental reason that businesses allow smoking that pro-banners forget, people want it. If they didn't, no business would offer smoking.

The next council meeting is Tuesday July 28th at the County Administrative building 41 S Central Ave, Clayton MO 63105. The meeting starts at 6PM and we encourage those that wish to testify to be there at least 15 minutes early.

Tony Palazzolo