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