Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Letter to Creve Coeur Councilwoman Kistner

Dear Councilwoman Kistner,

The St. Louis County smoking ban passed by a strong majority last year in part due to its reasonable exemptions for "over 21" entertainment venues like casinos and bars, as well as its exemption for old folks living out their last years in nursing homes. All private clubs were rightly exempted. The County ban lined up with what St. Louis County residents, Missourians and Americans generally want: no smoking in most restaurants but free choice in "over 21" establishments and private clubs..

In fact, the latest Gallup poll released in August found that only 31 percent of Americans favor a ban on all smoking in bars.

Likewise, a 2007 Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services poll likewise found that only 30 percent of St. Louis County residents, and only 27 percent of Missourians, favor such an extreme restriction.

Councilwoman Kistner, your proposed smoking ban for Creve Coeur removes most of the County's reasonable exemptions and turns over enforcement of the ban to the Creve Coeur police. I find it particularly unconscionable that you seek to ban all smoking in the Creve Coeur American Legion hall established just after World War II, yet your ordinance exempts a cigar bar that is open to the public. How can you justify restricting the freedoms of Creve Coeur veterans in their own private club, yet tolerate tobacco smoke in a for-profit business the public can enter without charge? Our veterans deserve better than to be hassled by Creve Coeur police in their own private club!

Furthermore, your ordinance entirely bans smoking in nursing homes, yet state law clearly permits such homes to allow indoor designated smoking areas. Local ordinances cannot ban what state law permits. I hope a legal challenge would soon be brought against this Draconian aspect of your ban if it passes and is enforced in its current form. Really Councilwoman Kistner, many people enter nursing homes at the end of their lives with little choice, often against their will. To send them out into the rain, wind and cold is really a mean thing on your part that I hope you will reconsider.


Bill Hannegan
314.315.3779 (cell)