Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Letter to Stacy Reliford

Dear Chairman Reliford,

I was alarmed that the survey released today by the American Cancer Society is so at odds with previous research concerning St. Louis County. The latest survey by Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services found that only 30 percent of County residents favored a total ban on smoking in bars and cocktail lounges. This finding was backed up by a 2010 national Gallup Poll which found that only 30 percent of Americans favor a total ban on smoking in bars. I find the sudden change of local opinion your survey implies implausible.

I am also disappointed that the Mellman group was chosen to conduct your phone survey. In its website self-description, the Mellman group reveals itself to be more of a PR/advocacy firm than a neutral research group! They make this promise to paying clients like the American Cancer Society:

"Whether winning for you means getting more votes than your opponent, selling more product, changing public policy, raising more money or generating more activism, The Mellman Group transforms data into winning strategies.

I have to wonder if the "win at all costs" philosophy of the Mellman group led to some bias in the questions asked or the selection of those called. Perhaps you could release the survey in order to resolve any doubt.

Chairman Reliford, I was also surprised to learn today in the KMOX report that former County Councilman Barbara Fraser was chosen to head Tobacco Free St. Louis. This choice bodes ill for St. Louis County small bars since Ms. Fraser has privately stated that casinos are "too powerful to include in a smoking ban". I hope you and she are not working to ban smoking in all St. Louis County mom and pop bars, but exempt the "powerful" casinos! As you know, the only fair and rational exemption is an "over 21" exemption that treats all businesses equally. To exempt only casinos is just wrong.


Bill Hannegan

Home phone: 314.367.3779
Cell phone: 314.315.3779