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