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St. Charles County Council Filters Out Smoking Ban

The county council may revisit the issue to come up with a compromise plan.

Veterans' organization members, bar owners and Ameristar Casino employees broke into applause after the St. Charles County Council voted down a proposal to put a countywide smoking ban on the November 2012 ballot.

A tied 3-3 vote doomed the proposal.

Before the vote, Kevin Nash, who lives near O’Fallon, said people were confusing the issue. Nash pointed out the proposal wasn’t to create a smoking ban, but to allow St. Charles County residents to vote on the issue.

“The ordinance is about whether the citizens of St. Charles County will have the opportunity to say, ‘This is what I want,’ and to express that through their vote,” Nash said.

Larry Williams, commander of American Veterans Post 106 in St. Peters, referred to a contingent of veterans' organization members attending the meeting.

“They have fought and shed their blood for the types of freedoms this bill is trying to take away,” Williams told council members.

“They’re concerned that any smoking ban will close their posts due to low attendance at their bars and post functions,” he said.

He said a smoking ban would effectively shut down every veterans' organization in the county, eliminating jobs at the posts.

Williams also said he has friends who own bars in O’Fallon, which passed a smoking ban last spring.

“In a year’s time, they are about ready to close their doors due to the smoking ban,” he said.

Council weighs in

Voting for the smoke-free ballot proposal were council members Joe Cronin, (R-District 1) Terry Hollander (R-District 5) and John White (R-District 7).

Voting against the bill were council members Joe Brazil (R-District 2) Nancy Matheny (R-District 3) and Jerry Daugherty (D-District 6).

Before the vote, Cronin, the bill's sponsor, withdrew a separate bill that would have created an exemption for Ameristar Casino.

However, Matheny said she couldn’t support a smoking ban when St. Louis County and city operate on different terms. She said she favors a statewide smoking ban.

“St. Louis County has 348 exemptions, and 145 of them are for bars,” Matheny said. Others were for bowling alleys and veterans' organizations, she said.

“I think this does pick winners and losers with the winners are on the other side of the river and the losers on this side of the river,” Matheny said.

Meanwhile, Hollander said he believes in direct democracy.

“It’s much better for us to put this in the hands of 188,000 voters rather than in the hands of us six or seven council members,” he said.

However, Brazil said it’s a fundamental right of business owners to run their businesses as they see fit, while customers can choose whether or not to patronize them.

“To put it to a vote, that’s not right either because the Constitution protects minorities,” he said.

Cronin said that he proposed the ballot measure after three municipalities in St. Charles County passed smoking bans and three cities requested the county to do the same.

He said according to statistics from the American Cancer Society, about 66 people in St. Charles County die each year from being exposed to secondhand smoke.

Not up in smoke

The smoking ban ballot measure may have been defeated, but the issue isn’t going away.

Matheny suggested that the council iron out a proposal acceptable to both sides. On Monday, she told Patch one possibility is a smoking restriction on establishments that allow minors.

Another possibility is an initiative petition drive supported by area residents and organizations such as the American Cancer Society.

On Monday morning, Stacy Reliford, field government relations director of the American Cancer Society in St. Louis, said the anti-smoking group would consider its options carefully before taking action.

However, Reliford said the organization would not support a proposal that banned smoking only in establishments that admit those under age 21.

Cortney November 29, 2011 at 08:20 PM
My goodness, there are plenty of places that have the no smoking ban and are doing great business. This is a health issue. I'm sick of hearing people who never smoke, getting lung cancer. I think I'll bring my nastiest smelling perfume bottle with me and spray it every time I see someone smoking in a restaurant/bar. Shouldn't bother you, right?
Steve November 29, 2011 at 09:04 PM
@ Cortney, Nope shouldn't bother me and you are sick of hearing of people who never smoke getting lung cancer. Really???? I have not heard that very often compared to those who do smoke. I don't smoke and prefer to visit non-smoking establishments. However I am sick of people pushing their personal ideals off as health or safety issues. We live in a free country and let people make their own decisions on what they want to do and how they want to live. How would you like to be told how much you can weigh, where you can eat, what type of vehicle you can drive as examples. Live and let live. If you want to be told what to do or tell others then move to a communist country.
Cortney November 30, 2011 at 03:17 PM
Personal ideals and beliefs are what music you like to to listen to, religion, etc. Not whether or not you smell from smoke in a restaurant or bar where you could potentially get cancer from. If you want to tattoo/pierce up your body, or what you do in your free time is totally up to you, but when it effects me, I have an issue. Sorry, Steve, I don't make up facts. Cause that's what they are: facts! http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/health/jane-brody/article_4870be4b-a379-554b-9d83-7c443b13f359.html http://www.cdc.gov/features/lungcancer/ http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/secondhand-smoke/CC00023
curly November 30, 2011 at 04:24 PM
As a non smoker i believe it should be personal choice of wether to put yourself in the environment of smoking or not. Govt. should not be deciding for the people, the voters should decide for the people. i like how every little thing people do anymore is everyones business. People we have been living like this for years and going in establishments with smoke. Why is it all of a sudden an issue with people. GET OVER IT! Smoke where you wanna smoke.
Cortney November 30, 2011 at 05:06 PM
Well I should be able to go to my favorite restaurant or place of business with whomever, other adults, children, regardless of worrying if I'm in a healthy environment. It's just like in schools, if a child has a fever, they can't come to school for 24 hours of being fever free, because it effects others' health. To me it's a matter of convenience. Should the smokers be inconvenienced because of personal choice, or should the non-smokers be inconvenienced due to health issues? It's not something to get over, or under, and whether or not we've been living like this for years - change is the only constant, we all know that, and we are evolving and making things better for people who choose to be healthy. It's called progress and not being simply being compliant and stuck in our ways. And if you noticed, the voters aren't even getting the chance, bill keeps getting tossed. If NYC and LA, and St Louis counties can do it, so can we.
joe aiello November 30, 2011 at 05:33 PM
Most restaurants don't allow smoking anymore anyway. Do you own your own business cortney? I didn't think so. If you did,then you would understand where we stand. If they ban smoking in my cigar store, i guess you will become a regular customer Joe
curly November 30, 2011 at 05:33 PM
cortney then stay home if you dont want to be around smoke. It's actually up to the business owner wether they want smoke in their environment or not, not the people who patron the place. And the bill keeps getting tossed because this is a ridiculous issue people are arguing about. As society we have way more important issues to cover on a dailey basis other than bickering about smokers. And personally what a waste of time on such a dumb issue.
Cortney November 30, 2011 at 06:17 PM
I'm not going to stay home, but I'm going to patronize the smoke free places. You're right, it's up to the business owner, for now. Time will tell.... And as far as time goes, people are spending a lot of TIME on it right here in this forum. And boo hoo, WHEN the smoking ban finally goes through, guess the best businesses will rise and the others will try to find something else that's appealing to their place, other than just being able to smoke in it. And Joe A, if it's a cigar store, I completely agree it should be ok to smoke in it.
Sydney Louise November 30, 2011 at 08:06 PM
WOW, aren't people entitled to their own opinions anymore. Well here's mine, I agree with Cortney! She wanted to say how she feels and she did, so leave her alone. You are entitled to your's and you did. I would definitely choose a restaurant/bar that is SMOKE FREE! Let the voters decide, put it on the ballet.
Leigh November 30, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Okay, my turn! Here's my opinion... and as far as I know, I'm the only smoker in this pow-wow! Live, and let live... that's cute, welcome to 2011! If you can't handle the smoke, stay home? Seriously Curly! Hey, if that's the case then why can't I smoke in the mall? You all wouldn't mind would you? It won't hurt business, right? Have people smoke around the clothes you may purchase. If smoking is band from business' that doesn't mean it's band from the earth. I smoke and frankly, I don't want to keep smoking. I'm GLAD it's being made difficult for me. Riddle me this one: Would you drop your children off to a babysitter that chain-smokes inside their home? Think long and hard... Probably not. And why is that...
Steve Pokin December 01, 2011 at 12:31 AM
Obviously, this is not a "dumb issue" or a "waste of time." It's an important issue. If the matter of a smoking ban goes to a general vote of the people it is all but a foregone conclusion it will pass. But should the majority dictate how someone can run a business into which they have invested their toil and perhaps their life's savings? I hate the smell of smoke. I can't stand it. I try not to patronize such places. I'll walk out of such places. It's close, but I weigh in on the side of the individual bussiness owner. It's his or her decision. Then it's my decision whether to go there.

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