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Tobacco Free St. Louis Pushes for Complete Smoking Ban

Group will ask the St. Louis County Council to eliminate smoking ban exemptions.

Tobacco-Free St. Louis will push the St. Louis County Council to expand the current smoking ban in the county to eliminate exemptions to the 2011 Clean Air Act.

Businesses eligible for smoking bans include casinos, Lambert International Airport and bars where food makes up a small percentage of sales. The airport later went smoke-free despite its exempt status.

The group made the announcement during a press conference Thursday morning at in University City.

The group said there are currently 145 exemptions to the ban with the majority of those (56) coming in the North County area. There are 20 exemptions in mid-County, 41 in South County and 29 in the West County area.

"The most vulnerable are the ones who are most unjustly impacted by this," Rance Thomas said. "Where people are most vulnerable in our community is where they are most likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke and poisonous air."

Dr. Stuart Slavin, board member of Tobacco-Free St. Louis and associate dean of the medical school Saint Louis University, said the issue is the health and well being of all county residents.

The exemptions are creating an unfair playing field for restaurants that play by the rules, argued Derek Deaver, owner of Three Kings in U City and Deaver's Restaurant and Sports Bar in North County.

"I've seen my food sales go up by 10 percent, but my bar sales are down 15 percent," he said. "What this is doing is hurting bars with food."

Deaver said the county's application for exemption — a downloaded application and a $35 fee — isn't being policed for accuracy.

"We need to ban smoking county-wide. They've done it in Kansas City, Columbia, Chicago and New York — even Dublin has a smoking ban and everyone in Ireland smokes," Deaver said.

The group offered several reasons why a complete ban would be good for businesses. They include:

  • A July 2011 study by The Mellman Group which shows that 72 percent of voters favor all indoor establishments being smoke-free.
  • A recent University of Missouri study that air in smoke-free businesses around St. Louis is 90 percent cleaner than before the smoking ban.
  • Smoke-free provides a safe workplace for employees.
  • No exemptions means no loopholes.

When the , many were concerned the revenue from in Maryland Heights would go across the river to the in St. Charles, if one allowed smoking and the other did not.

Business owners Thursday said they weren't worried about people driving from across counties to smoke, but those that are going across the street.

The owner of a restaurant at Highway 141 and Olive said he notices a difference in his own well-being since the ban went into place, but he and other rule-abiding business owners are essentially being put at a disadvantage for playing by the rules.

"They just need to level the playing field," Deaver said.

Bill McKenzie March 06, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Elizabeth is exactly right. We are surrendering our rights as Americans one at a time. Soon this country will be completely reversed in its values from 75 years ago. Those who vote to ban smoking are playing into the hands of tyrannical politicians who want to run your life and make all your decisions for you. This is proceeding rapidly in Washington DC right now. Unless Americans begin to insist on their heritage we will all have plenty of opportunity to rue this silly prohibition when our freedoms are gone. Incidentally, I don't smoke and never have.
Jeff Bunselmeyer March 06, 2012 at 10:42 PM
St. Louis Cigars, 13347 Olive Blvd are now selling Smox electronic cigarettes. They produce great vapor! Smoke anywhere, no smell, no ash, no harmful chemicals. Plus it will save you money over tobacco products.
Charlene R Hensel March 08, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I am a non-smoker. I have never touched a cigarette and never plan on doing so. I do understand what Elizabeth and Bill are saying, but....of course, there is always a but! I have an alergy to cigarette smoke and I had to quit working in bars due to cig smoke/alergy. I enjoy going and listening to certain bands and unfortunately they end up playing in smoky bars. How fair is to me that I have to put up with the smoke? Can the smokers not go outside? Not right outside the front door either! Then everyone can enjoy themselves. I love going out now to the smokefree bars. I come home now and love not stinking like a smelly old ashtray! Honestly smokers do stink! It is a very very nasty dirty habit. My sister and her husband smoke and their kids stink so bad. It is a real shame! I really do hope it goes state wide.
foxxydrummer March 08, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Gee, Charlene, instead of catering to smokers, we're all suposed to cater to you? Perhaps you should live in one of those bubbles, so nothing bad will ever happen to you. Being an adult is learning how to compromise, not acting like a spoiled little brat who has to have everything her way.
RCOverdrive March 17, 2012 at 05:34 PM
I don't go into them and won't when I have the choice. Thankfully I now have many choices thanks to the bans that have been put in place and the restaurants that choose to abide by the rules. Illinois Bars, Casino Queen, Brewzki's O'Fallon MO, Syberg's Dorsett, Bottleneck Blues Bar, Blueberry Hill... get my business!!!

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