Monday, July 19, 2010

Letter to County Councilman Barbara Fraser

Dear Councilman Fraser,

I found an interesting survey conducted just before the November 2006 election in Ohio. The survey found that smoking bans with exemptions are preferred by both the general public and likely voters over complete bans. This supports our contention that the exemptions in your St. Louis County smoking ban made it more popular with County voters than it would have been had a strict smoking ban that included bars had been proposed. Here is the relevant passage from the attached survey:

"Smoking Ban without exception
Yes 42.6 47.7
No 46.9 43.9
Undecided 10.5 8.4
Smoking Ban with exceptions
Yes 51.4 52.5
No 33.8 36.1
Undecided 14.8 11.4

A proposed ban on smoking in public places without exceptions garners 43% support from the general public and 47% opposition. However, the figures are reversed among likely voters, where the proposition leads 48 to 44%. This was the only example where the preferences of the public in general and likely voters differ for ballot proposals.

A proposal to ban smoking in public places with some exceptions was more popular, with a majority of both the general public and likely voters supporting it."

Councilman Fraser, this survey lines up very nicely with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services 2007 survey which found that though 58.3 percent of County residents support a smoke-free workplace law, only 30.2 percent want smoking banned in bars and cocktail lounges. Both surveys are evidence that County residents do not want a smoking ban that includes all bars as smoking ban proponents contend.


Bill Hannegan

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Letter to Dr. Elizabeth Klein

Dear Dr. Klein,

Thank you so much for sending a copy of your bar employment study.

Right off I do find it irregular that your study does not mention the highly influential work of economist Dr. Michael Pakko. Dr. Pakko's economic studies have long been consulted by Midwestern journalists, business and political leaders, and the general public, on the St. Federal Reserve Bank website and his writings on smoking bans have been published in the Federal Reserve Bank publication the Regional Economist. The St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank has even put out a video concerning his Illinois smoking ban study that is available on You Tube! When St. Louis City was considering a smoking ban last year, Dr. Pakko's standing as a research economist at the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank gave his Columbia and Illinois casino smoking ban studies preeminence over studies conducted by public health professionals. His work had a huge roll in the exemption of bars and casinos from the smoking bans recently passed in St. Louis City and County, and in smoking ban deliberations in cities and states across America. Why does your study pretend his research does not exist?

I would like to further point out that your study can only provide reassurance to communities with low smoking rates. (The Minnesota smoking rate in 2007 was the fifth lowest in the nation, 17 percent, well below the national average.) Such communities according to the research of Dr. Chad Cotti and Dr. Scott Adams are not likely to see a large declines in bar and restaurant employment due to smoking bans. But Dr. Cotti says his research does indeed warn of catastrophic declines in bar employment in places with high smoking rates like St. Louis City. Last year Dr. Cotti predicted that a strict smoking ban in St. Louis City would cause a 19.7 percent decline in bar employment and the closure of many establishmens. Please find Dr. Cotti's statement attached.

Dr. Klein, your research is being used to assure political leaders, business owners, journalists and the general public that smoking bans don't hurt bars. Yet your research is consistent with big bar employment declines in communities with high smoking rates and with harm to individual establishments in communities with lower smoking rates. I think you should warn people that such blanket reassurance is something a study concerning overall employment numbers in two Minnesota cities cannot possibly provide.


Bill Hannegan

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Martin Pion's reply and my answer

Dear Bill,

Thank you for copying me on your e-mail to Diana Benanti of the Smoke-Free St. Louis City Coalition.

As a physicist who has spent considerable time studying the effectiveness of ventilation systems at eliminating the risks posed by secondhand smoke I disagree strongly with your conclusion. Ventilation systems may reduce the risk but not to an acceptable level. Only a totally smoke-free environment in a building can do that.

I have the data to back this up, obtained by an independent environmental consulting company for Missouri GASP, but it has never been published in a peer-reviewed journal. I hope to get around to submitting it as a paper one day, but I have no doubt as to its validity.

However, another peer-reviewed paper I coauthored that also relates to the effectiveness of smoking rooms and some of the same basic science was published in March 2004 by the British Medical Journal in it's international publication Tobacco Control under the title "Airport smoking rooms don't work" and may be found here:


Martin Pion, B.Sc.
President, Missouri GASP

Dear Mr. Pion,

No one argues that any ventilation or filtration system can perfectly eliminate smoke exposure in a space where people are smoking. But we based our campaign against the St. Louis City and County smoking ban on the belief that air filtration and air cleaning systems, such as those installed at Herbie's Vintage 72, could hugely reduce the presence of all secondhand smoke components in bar air including all carcinogens and all gases.

It is very distressing to realize that Clayton and St. Louis City aldermen and County Councilmen were being told all along that the effect of our air cleaning and filtration systems was merely cosmetic and that dangerous particles and gases were readily passing through the air filtration and air cleaning machines back into bar air. The implication is that the machines at Herbie's only made the situation more hazardous by removing the sight and smell of smoke, thereby making patrons and workers feel comfortable and safe, yet allowing threatening particles and gases to accumulate!

I would like to know if Smoke Free St. Louis has any evidence for this charge against air filtration and air cleaning technology. Clearly their misrepresentation has already hurt local air filtration companies and will hurt the St. Louis bars and restaurants which have installed this air cleaning and filtration technology come January.

Bill Hannegan

Friday, July 02, 2010

Letter to Smoke-Free St. Louis

Smoke-Free St. Louis:

Smoke-Free St. Louis has lobbied the Clayton Board of Aldermen, the St. Louis County Council, and the St. Louis Board of Aldermen with a false claim still present on your website:

"While ventilation systems can help reduce the smell and sight of cigarette smoke, they are not capable of getting rid of all of the carcinogens. Most cancer-causing particles and all cancer-causing gasses are too small to be trapped by filters."

Air filtration systems have installed in Clayton, St. Louis City and St. Louis County bars and restaurants that are capable of removing all the components of secondhand smoke, including all carcinogens, from the air. No particle of any sort is too small to be captured. Can you provide some documentation of your claim?

Bill Hannegan