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County to Discuss Proposal to Put Smoking Ban on 2012 Ballot

Some council members oppose the vote because they believe the ban violates property owner rights.

One County Councilman wants to see a smoking ban proposal go before voters in 2012, but hasn't been able to discuss the issue with the rest of the council.

Councilman Joe Cronin, R-District 1, said he submitted a bill about a month ago that would ban smoking in most public places, but the bill has not been placed on the County Council agenda. The bill would put the smoking ban proposal on the Aug. 7, 2012 ballot.

“That’s going to brought up at this meeting,” Cronin said.

The work session begins at 5 p.m. Monday in the St. Charles County Executive Building on Third Street.

When asked if he has enough support to pass the bill, Cronin said, “I guess we’ll see on Monday.”

Council Chairman Joe Brazil, R-District 2, said he opposes bringing the issue to a vote.

“I’m still against it,” Brazil said. “In Cronin’s ordinance, he excludes the casino, and that’s totally unfair.”

Cronin said the exemption applies only to the gambling floor where gambling takes place. It does not include bars and restaurants within a casino.

“Supposedly, when Illinois banned smoking from casinos, it cost them about $800 million in lost revenue to St. Louis County,” Cronin said. “People are afraid if there’s a smoking ban in the St. Charles casino, people will go across the river to gamble. There’s 1,600 jobs in that casino.”

Casinos in St. Louis County are exempt from the smoking ban.

“There was not enough support on the council to get this done without an exemption for the casino,” Cronin said.

The bill, as it currently is written, also allows exemptions for private clubs with no paid employees, tobacco stores or cigar bars.

A cigar bar is defined as a place that generates 60 percent of its revenue from selling alcohol and 25 percent of its revenue from cigar sales; has a humidor on the premises, and is not otherwise subject to the ban.

Popular, not right

Brazil said just because a smoking ban is popular does not make it the right thing to do. He compared the situation to using eminent domain on a person’s farmland to build an airport.

“If you put it to a vote, maybe 70 percent of the people would agree,” Brazil said. “That doesn’t make it right.”

Councilman Paul Wynn, R- District 4, agrees with Brazil, and likewise opposes a popular vote on the issue.

Wynn, of O’Fallon, opposes the ban – and a vote on the ban – because he believes smoking bans deprive property owners of their rights to allow a legal activity in their establishment.

He acknowledges his stand will not be popular in his district, as nearly 70 percent of O’Fallon voters approved the citywide smoking ban on April 5.

“I would rather have them ban smoking all together, make it illegal,” said Wynn, of O’Fallon. “Of course, that’s not going to happen because government makes too much money from it.”

Brazil nor Wynn do not smoke. Both said they hate smoking and hate sitting in restaurants near smokers.

Wynn said people can choose stay out of restaurants and bars or get different jobs if they are bothered by smoke.

Cronin said the county is able to make decisions based on health issues for its citizens.

“This is a health issue,” he said.

Betty Asher May 03, 2011 at 03:07 PM
I am not a smoker. I so agree with a business owner making the decision to serve whom he please. Our local business people who own homes and lives in our communities do not have a fair playing field by letting the casinos live by different rules. This is not the job of our government.
Elizabeth May 03, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Mr. Cronin is wrong, this is not a "health issue" it is a rights issue. The government is supposed to protect our rights and keep them intact. Having one group of people with an opinion determine who has what right and when goes against everything our country is supposed to stand for. If you don't want to be around smoke, you have the RIGHT to go somewhere else. You also have the RIGHT to open up a non-smoking business of your own. Most places already don't allow smoking, but apparently the right to choose isn't enough for the ban people, they want control over their life AND yours.
CyZane May 05, 2011 at 01:45 AM
This is NOT a health issue. Second hand smoke is not a public health issue by any stretch of the imagination. Annoyance or irritation second hand smoke can cause, do not warrant intrusion into one's private property and one's individual rights and freedoms: http://www.fightingback.homestead.com If one wishes to avoid second hand smoke anyway, all one has to do is stay from private businesses (and homes) that allow it. Full period.
Jonik May 05, 2011 at 02:14 AM
IF this was a health issue, there would be calls for proper ingredient labeling on cigarettes to list the many pesticide residues, the carcinogenic radiation from certain phosphate fertilizers, the added burn accelerants, the dioxin-creating chlorine pesticides and the bleached paper, the added addiction-enhancing substances, the fake tobacco made from non-organic industrial waste cellulose, and whatever selections there are from the roughly 1400 untested, often-toxic non-tobacco cigarette additives. Of course, that can't be on the label because it would indict the government agencies and officials responsible for allowing and inflicting those deadly things on those who think and are told it's just tobacco. Vote on this: "May public officials support the cigarette industry by lying about cigarettes being just tobacco?" Or... "Should govt officials who failed to warn or protect citizens from deadly cigarette contaminants be arrested, or just removed from office?" See http://fauxbacco.blogspot.com for more.
Linda May 09, 2011 at 01:40 PM
I also am not a smoker and have a serious lung condition BUT I do not believe in the government making the decision to ban smoking. That is a business decision that should be made by the business owner and his customers. If customers tell the owner they want him to be smoke free - then that is his decision for his business. I choose where I frequent and it is often based on smoking or non-smoking. That is my choice. It is not the government's choice to make that decision for me.

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