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.