Thursday, November 18, 2010

Protect O'Fallon Businesses with Free Choice

Dear Mayor Hennessy and O'Fallon City Councilmembers,

I want to warn you that a substantial number of bars in St. Louis County and St. Louis City will be legally be able to continue to allow smoking after Jan 2nd next year. Furthermore, due to the unfairness of both the City and County laws, and their weak enforcement provisions, a large amount of noncompliance can be expected from St. Louis bars and restaurants included in these bans. I strongly suggest for the sake of O'Fallon businesses that any smoking ban legislation put on the ballot exempt "over 21" venues so that no O'Fallon business is left at a competitive disadvantage with similar businesses in St. Louis City or County.

St. Charles County residents favor such an exemption. The most recent survey by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services shows that only 31.2 percent of St. Charles County residents favor a total ban on smoking in bars and cocktail lounges. This survey lines up almost exactly with a Gallup Poll released last August which found that only 31 percent of Americans favor a total ban on smoking in bars.

Research shows that even when imposed statewide, smoking bans cut bar revenues and bar employment. The effect of a smoking ban is even more harmful when neighboring businesses face no such restriction or ignore those in place. Please do not be swayed by the false assurances of professional smoking ban advocates such as Pat Lindsey. Smoking bans do hurt businesses. The best way to protect O'Fallon businesses is to allow free choice to O'Fallon adults with an "over 21" exemption. The Tennessee smoking ban features such an exemption. Please find this law attached.


Bill Hannegan