Friday, October 30, 2009
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 9:25 AM
102909_Prop_N_spot 0:30 3
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 8:55 AM
"I would like to see the smoking issue be one of marketplace decision. Smoke free bars and restaurants would attract the healthiest of patrons. Those that still permit smoking would either change in the face of client choice or thrive with patrons who still choose a smoky environment. Let the marketplace decide."
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 8:51 AM
Thursday, October 29, 2009
The passage -- or failure -- of the proposed St. Louis County smoking ban may come down to how many smokers show up to vote.
That's a dynamic both sides agree exists, as they target their final marketing toward the pockets of voters most sympathetic with their cause. Voter turnout Tuesday in St. Louis County is projected at 15-to-20 percent.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 12:28 PM
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
In a debate Monday, my opponent, Councilman Barbara Fraser, claimed that smoking bans nationally save a half a million lives each year. The Post-Dispatch printed her statement today. No one mentioned the problem with her statement except me. What is going on here?
Councilman Fraser's statement:
"Studies show that smoking bans save a half-million lives a year nationally — half the population of St. Louis County," she said Monday at a forum of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 1:01 PM
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
On Friday the Board of Alderman voted 20-7 to "perfect" the smoking ban bill. "Perfected" means this is the bill they will vote to pass or fail. They will amend it no further. They have not yet voted to make it a law.
The bill had five proposed amendments over a three hour plus debate. Of the five only one was passed. The amendment increased the square footage from 1500 to 2000 and further excluded bathroom, storage and kitchen space from the total amount. The exclusion is for 5 years and no one under 21 can be allowed to enter. Food has to be incidental (although that is not defined as a percentage).
Of note, Alderwomen Triplett introduced a bill to pull out the casino exemption. It was almost a complete role reversal in voting. Those that support a ban voted against pulling the exemption and those that were against the ban voted to pull the exemption(note that not all voted that way). It seems that at a certain dollar point they no longer buy into the health argument. That dollar point just happens to be beyond restaurants and most bars. Probably the most stunning was Phylis Young. Her district represents a large percentage of restaurants and bars such as Soulard and Downtown. Most of those will be covered by the ban. When the amendment came up to strip the exclusion she fought hard to keep it, yet she easily voted to ban smoking everywhere.
Quite frankly I understand why they don't want to ban smoking at the Casino. Its simply money the city can't afford to give up. When Illinois banned smoking, the admission tax the city collects went from $5 million to $10 million. They would lose millions beyond that in retail tax and employment tax. Yet the city is still going to lose revenue from bars and restaurants. Those employees that chose to work at a bar or restaurant will be just as unemployed. I guess freedom comes at a price and its more than most of us can afford.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 4:38 AM
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
The largest study of this issue, which used nationwide data instead of looking at cherry-picked communities, concluded that smoking bans in the U.S. "are not associated with statistically significant short-term declines in mortality or hospital admissions for myocardial infarction." It also found that "large short-term increases in myocardial infarction incidence following a workplace ban are as common as the large decreases reported in the published literature."
That study, published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in March, suggests that publication bias -- the tendency to report positive findings and ignore negative ones -- explains the "consistent" results highlighted by the institute's committee. But even though the panelists say they tried to compensate for publication bias by looking for relevant data that did not appear in medical journals, they ignored the national bureau's paper, along with analyses that found no declines in heart attacks following smoking bans in California, Florida, New York, Oregon, England, Wales and Scotland.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 7:49 AM
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Last week at the Board of Alderman the smoking ban was tabled. Apparently that is not all that has been tabled. Apparently Smoke-Free St Louis has lost its funding. We have wondered what has happened to them. The blogging has stopped. The main facebook page is no longer there. They had no one at the what should have been the most important Board of Alderman meeting.
The fact that they had no one is an important point. Once they were no longer being paid to push a smoking ban, its suddenly not that important. This was the meeting that they would perfect the bill. This meeting would set the exemptions that would what businesses would legally allow smoking. This repercussions of this meeting would last for many years and they didn't have one person show. On the other side, not one person was being paid to be there. Many residents and business owners were there showing support to kill the bill.
How serious should the Board of Alderman take Smoke-Free St Louis? Once they were not being paid - they are no longer interested. Apparently it is not a matter of life or death - just a matter of a paycheck.
I do feel sorry for Diane Benenati and all those that lost their job. Its a tough time to be looking for work. Good luck to them all.
Edit: as Joe pointed out, the main facebook page is still there.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 6:49 AM
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Sunday, October 11, 2009
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - From West Virginia to the West Coast, smokers are trying to fend off further restrictions on their habit, and local officials are starting to listen.
In some cases, smoking bans have even been rescinded or postponed - including in the city of Spokane.
Opponents of smoking restrictions say these rollbacks are largely driven by economic woe, with local governments wary of imposing new costs or business burdens on restaurants and bars that may already be struggling.
"The economy is in a slump, and these bans almost always hurt the shot-and-beer-type bars and some restaurants," said Gary Nolan, U.S. regional director of the Citizens Freedom Alliance, which opposes laws that restrict smoking.
"If times are trying now in the hospitality industry, you're compounding that by telling bar owners they can't cater to their own crowd," he said.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 5:05 PM
Friday, October 09, 2009
“I can assure you that if St. Louis and/or St. Louis County pass smoking ban ordinances, they will face a challenge” on the same basis as the Kansas City one, Sternberg said in the email.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 4:35 PM
"What readers need to understand is that a meta-analysis is only as good as the individual studies that go into it. If the individual study conclusions are invalid, then the meta-analysis will be invalid as well. This is exactly the case with the present study.
I have previously analyzed each of the published studies on smoking bans and heart attacks and explained why the conclusions of these studies are invalid. You can't just combine the studies in a meta-analysis and argue that suddenly the conclusion becomes valid. The meta-analysis does not account for the severe flaws in these studies, including the failure to adequately rule out the possibility that the observed declines in heart attacks merely reflected a combination of random variation plus an already declining secular trend in heart attacks over time."
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 2:23 PM
Thursday, October 08, 2009
The Health and Human Services Committee of the St. Louis Board of Aldermen added an amendment to the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009 that allows smoking in bars 1500 square feet or less that do not admit minors. The exemption lasts for only five years.
Even with this new exemption, the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act is far more stringent than the proposed County ban. The County ban will allow smoking in almost any establishment of any size willing to claim that less than 25 percent of its gross revenues are food sales and has no sunset provision. In contrast, the proposed City ban exempts only bars that are smaller than 1500 ft. and then only for 5 years This would put the more greatly threatened St. Louis City bar industry at a competitive disadvantage with St. Louis County.
If a smoking ban has to be passed, why not mirror the County law as Alderman Conway proposed yesterday or else exempt age restricted establishments as the Tennessee smoking ban does? Such an exemption would be keep minors out of venues that allow smoking, whereas the County ordinance does not. Plus it would not favor one type of business over another as the County ordinance does, and so would not be subject to the legal challenge the County ordinance will likely face if it passes. Exempting “over 21″ or “over 18″ venues would greatly minimize any business loss a smoking ban would bring to St. Louis City.
If this law passes in its current form, we'll have to challenge it in court or put reasonable exemptions on the ballot.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 9:13 PM
Friday, October 02, 2009
Five St. Louis City residents were shot yesterday in four separate shootings between 5:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m., the very span of time during which a smoking ban would most often put bar and restaurant patrons out on the sidewalk. The Post story seems to indicate that these people just happened to be outside and were the victims of random violence. Is it prudent to put bar and restaurant patrons outside given the real possibility of lethal, random violence? I would feel safer inside a bar with good air filtration than standing on the street after dark in St. Louis.
"The second shooting happened at 8:09 p.m. Thursday in the 700 block of Aubert Avenue near the intersection of North Kingshighway and Delmar Boulevard. A 31-year-old man and an 18-year-old woman told police that they were outside when suspects began firing shots at them. The man was shot in the knee and the woman was shot in her shoulder. Both were taken to an area hospital where they are listed in stable condition.
The third shooting happened at 8:51 p.m. Thursday in the 3200 block of Carter Avenue near the intersection of North Florissant Avenue and North Grand Boulevard. A 35-year-old man told police that he was outside when a gunman came out of an alley and shot him several times in the back. The victim is in stable condition at an area hospital."
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 5:25 PM
Thursday, October 01, 2009
"She said that 2 hours in a smoking environment as a worker is the same as ingesting 4 cigarettes in 2 hours as a non-smoker. In an 8 hour shift, non-smokers are ingesting 16 cigarettes or ¾ of a pack."
Honestly, if that were true I would vote for a smoking ban too, unless the owner put a skull and crossbones on his front door.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 6:11 PM
At the event, Garcia stated that with the threat of a the ban, she doesn't have the time to even fully focus on her wedding, but she is not willing to giving up their business without a fight.
"Until everything is resolved, there will be a rally against (the ban) every day at the Petra Café and Hookah Lounge," Garcia said. "My personal message to everyone is that if you enjoy hookah, keep smoking it. If you are a cigarette smoker, keep smoking it."
Garcia urges people to make a stand against the smoking ban.
"If you really want to make a difference you can always write to the government," Garcia said. "But the main goal is just to show that it would take a lot more than a ban by the government to ever shut us down."
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 4:27 PM
The co-author of this study, economist Dr. Michael Marlow, has offered to assess the likely financial impact of the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009. The Health and Human Services Committee of the St. Louis Board of Alderman should take Dr. Marlow up on that offer.
Posted by Bill Hannegan at 10:26 AM