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Readers: Businesses Will Think They Are Grandfathered On New Smoke-Free Laws

January 5, 2011 Smoke Free, St. Louis County, STL Region 21 Comments
ABOVE: Chevy's restaurant in Olivette lacked the required universal no-smoking symbol on Sunday
ABOVE: Chevy's restaurant in Olivette lacked the required universal no-smoking symbol on Sunday

Every year the week between December 25th and January 1st is the lowest readership.  Last week was no exception so I’m not surprised at the low number of votes in the weekly poll.  The current poll had more voters in the first 24 hours than all of last week. Here are the results:

Q: Will St. Louis businesses be ready when the smoke-free law begins on 1/2/2011?

  1. No, many will incorrectly think they are “grandfathered” 23 [34.33%]
  2. Yes, most will post the required signs but some won’t 20 [29.85%]
  3. No, some will post the required signs but most won’t 19 [28.36%]
  4. Unsure/no opinion 3 [4.48%]
  5. Other answer… 2 [2.99%]

The majority feel businesses wouldn’t be ready for Sunday, but for different reasons.  The two “other” answers were:

  1. Stupid poll
  2. NO, most will ignore or think they are exempt.

Sunday night I had dinner at Chevy’s in Olivette.  This was one establishment I stopped going to in 2008 due to the fact they permitted smoking in the bar area. It was nice to return for dinner with friends in a smoke-free environment. But like so many businesses, Chevy’s didn’t have the required universal no-smoking symbol displayed at the entrance.

Yesterday I went down both sides of Washington Ave from 10th to 16th trying to find a single business in compliance with the sign requirement of the new ordinance. Like St. Louis County, no smoking signs must be displayed at all entrances.   I’ve yet to see a business in compliance.  You might point out it has only been a few days. True, but both laws were passed in 2009, businesses had all of 2010 to get ready.  Businesses that were already smoke-free just needed to add a universal no-smoking symbol at each entrance.

How can compliance be so bad?  The departments responsible for enforcement got the word out didn’t they?

ABOVE: The St. Louis Dept of Health website last night gives you heat advisory alerts and where to find cooling centers, click to view larger version.

The St. Louis Department of Health could use a calendar, they think it is still summer. Someone should check on Dept of Health webmaster James A. Heitert to see what he is working on. It sure wasn’t putting out press releases.

ABOVE: Last press release issued by Health Dept was in May 2009

Although I shouldn’t put much stock in the City’s Press Release page to be accurate.

mayorprIt shows one press release from the Mayor’s Office in October 2010 and then March before that.  I know I’ve received many press releases not listed here.  It seems our folks at City Hall are so incompetent they can’t seem to get the word out about a significant new law with over a year to do so.  Or maybe they did but they forgot to archive the press release?

Licensed business owners could have easily received a notice of the new law with their license renewal in 2010, but they didn’t.  Successful compliance begins with communications.  Maybe the aldermen spread the word at well attended neighborhood meetings?  Can we get some real leadership in City Hall?

– Steve Patterson


Currently there are "21 comments" on this Article:

  1. Torchsurreal says:

    I assume lawyers are involved and this is just the beginning but I have YET to see a new sign and I have run into a couple of places that claim they can open all windows and all doors and still have smoking if there is a semi-solid wall between the sections!! This was a large chain no less!

  2. JZ71 says:

    As with any law, compliance will boil down to both official enforcement and public complaints. That said, I'm much less worried about No Smoking signs on doors than I am about smokers inside – I'll trade a lack of signs for smoke-free air versus the alternative, obligatory signs in place yet continued smoking inside (the Hannegan syndrome), because there are no real government sanctions or effective way to register complaints . . .

    • I'm not worried about the signs but I see the lack of signs as an indicator of a poor job communicating the message necessary to get a reasonable level of compliance.

  3. Mpion says:

    Good job Steve and thanks for posting this!
    I'd forgotten that the new law requires signage on all entrances. That has certainly always been standard practice with smoke-free air ordinances so thanks for checking this out.
    I agree that the City needs to do a better job in this area, since it's an immediate notice to patrons and customers as to what to expect. It's as essential as the requirement to remove all ashtrays because otherwise smokers are going to take their presence as a cue that they can light up.
    Martin Pion, President, Missouri GASP. http://www.mogasp.wordpress.com

  4. Tiredofpolitics says:

    “Can we get some real leadership in City Hall?”

    Not until the city gov't is completely overhauled and all of the dead weight is removed and we get some fresh faces in there. Steve, I commend you for your efforts although I fear addressing any and all fundamental issues with the city is the most uphill [damn near vertical] battle that you'll ever encounter. The only common sense that exists within city gov't is within the employees and they are POWERLESS with respect to the politicians. I can't eliminate anything decorative from my projects as it might piss off the aldermen. Every single time I say, “**** 'em, they are supposed to represent the citizens, I'm one and excessively spending money on frivolous items is the antithesis of what we should be spending money on especially considering that the city is MILLIONS in debt.” Then I get blank stares…

    One of two things is going to happen with me with regards to my employment with the city: I'll become complacent and roll with whatever happens like everyone else, or I'll quit and move away from this crap hole full of thugs and hoosiers. I grew up in a rural community and I was always under the impression that the/a city is a sophisticated place full of wonderful and helpful people. The opposite is true and it disappoints me.

    • I agree it will be an uphill battle but compared to a stroke it seems like a piece of (gooey butter) cake. I'm not going anywhere so if I have to spend the next 25-30 years working to change St. Louis then that is what I will do.

  5. HL4 says:

    Steve, Every 6 months to a year you and I agree on a subject. Well here it is. It was a halfhearted attempt by the City to do what is right. The problem is that the law should have been passed in Jefferson City. The City or the County can not be held responsible to enforce the law because they will never have the ability or the money to do so. Instead of trying to reduce the Board of Alderman you should be a loud supporter for a state wide ban on smoking and call out those State Reps who do not support clean air.

    • I fully agree the law should have been passed in Jefferson City. But don't presume I haven't been trying to get a statewide smoke free law passed. This blog focuses on the city & region, I don't follow Jefferson City closely enough to speak on the issues they deal with. In 2011 and beyond I do plan to spend time in Jefferson City learning.

  6. Rabblerouser says:


    You should get a job at City Hall monitoring all ADA and smoking violations.

  7. Bill Hannegan says:

    The recent rollback of the Holland smoking ban shows me that noncompliance can work against this smoking ban too:


  8. jacricjam says:

    I own a smoke free restaurant downtown on Washington Ave. We have been smoke free since we opened our doors 3 years ago. We have had NO notice from the city that we have to display smoke free signage. Could you please let me know where we are supposed to get this signage from? Where is the signage supposed to be posted?

    • JZ71 says:

      Steve has a link to the “ordinance” in the original posting. In part, it states:

      “SECTION NINE. Posting of Signs

      1. “No Smoking” signs or the international “No Smoking” symbol (consisting of a pictorial representation of a burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle with a red bar across it) shall be clearly and conspicuously posted in every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this Ordinance, by the owner, operator, manager, or other person in control of that place.

      2. Every public place and place of employment where smoking is prohibited by this Ordinance shall have posted at every entrance a conspicuous sign clearly stating that smoking is prohibited. Every vehicle that constitutes a place of employment under this Ordinance shall have at least one conspicuous sign, visible from the exterior of the vehicle, clearly stating that smoking is prohibited.

      3. All ashtrays shall be removed from any area where smoking is prohibited by this Ordinance by the owner, operator, manager, or other person having control of the area.”

      The signs can be purchased from office supply places like Office Depot or Office Max, from home improvement places like Home Depot or Lowe's, and any sign company can make or provide them. The one concern I would have with the ordinance is that it does not specify a miinmum size – I guess you'll have to use your best judgement . . .

  9. Mike says:

    Whatever happened to freedom of choice?

    • JZ71 says:

      Democracy . . . the voters have spoken!

      • RobbyD says:

        Sometimes translated as tyranny of the majority…Here tho, the minority needs no protection…They are willfully putting the health of other citizens at risk…I'm pretty sure that's a no-no…

        • JZ71 says:

          I struggle with both the reality of the tyranny of the majority as well as the hypocrisy of the government. The real reason that most people don't like being around smokers is because of the smell, not because of the (alleged?) health dangers. It's that old George Carlin line, “Mind if I smoke? No, mind if I fart?” If we were truly concerned about our health, we'd stay out of the sun, exercise more, eat more vegetables, always wear our seatbelts and not drink alcohol. For the most part, we're willing to live and let live until it, literally, gets in our faces – if smokers didn't exhale, they'd be facing far fewer restrictions.

          And if the government truly believed that tobacco is a toxic, addictive, drug, it would be treated like every other drug, requiring a prescription (if it has any beneficial effects) or making it illegal (if it has none), instead of being readily available to anyone with a real or fake ID and taxed, lightly here and much more heavily in every other state!

    • RobbyD says:

      No one's taking away your ability to choose to smoke. The gov't is limiting WHERE you can choose to smoke

      Really, you seem to be asking why nuclear power plant developers are not free to build the nuclear waste dumps in Spanish Lake. Come on, now. lol.

      When I go out for breakfast, I don't want gasoline in my coffee, glass shards in my eggs or smoke in my air. If that's too much for smokers to comply with, I suggest they grow a heart and learn to respect the lungs of others.

  10. Mike says:

    …And freedom of speech? Shame on you Mr. Patterson.

  11. James A. Heitert says:

    I haven't worked for the Health Department since May of 2009. My position was also eliminated due to budget cuts.


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