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.

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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. http://keepstlouisfree.blogspot.com/2009/09/likely-trash-and-noise-from-st-louis.html

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.

Sincerely,

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!

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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."

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/regional/construx_sites_still_smokin_36Zv5StfwXopBcNzetrDZL

Saturday, September 05, 2009

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

video

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:

http://nynnews.blogspot.com/2009/03/worlds-loudest-cigarette-six-years-of.html

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."

http://mocage.wordpress.com/2009/09/02/st-louis-county-smoking-ban-and-gambling-expansion/