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Poll: Thoughts on St. Louis’ Smoke-free Law [UPDATED]

ABOVE: Bars that qualify for an exemption must post a warning sign

As of January 2, 2011 most businesses in St. Louis are now smoke-free. Now that we are past the halfway point in the year I’m curious on your thoughts. When the law was debated in 2009 many opposed the law on principal. Some are still fighting the law.

Do you feel differently about the law now? Should we repeal or expand? The poll is in the upper right corner of the blog.

– Steve Patterson

Update @ 7pm on Monday August 15, 2011:

This week’s poll has been closed after only a day & a half, the pro-smoking forces had caused more votes than a typical week.


St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann Vetoed Smoke-Free Bill

St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann

Yesterday St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann vetoed a bill that would have given voters the opportunity to decide if they wanted their county to go smoke-free. In the poll last week the single answer with the most was the one where he would sign the bill and voters would approve:

Q: When Will St. Charles County Go Smoke-Free?

  1. Ehlmann will sign bill and voters will approve it in Nov 2012 16 [32%]
  2. Only after a statewide ban 13 [26%]
  3. Never 8 [16%]
  4. Other answer… 4 [8%]
  5. Eventually, Ehlmann will sign bill but voters won’t approve it in Nov 2012 3 [6%]
  6. Eventually, Ehlmann will veto this bill but this change will come later 3 [6%]
  7. Ehlmann will veto this bill but the County Council will override, voters approve in Nov 2012 2 [4%]
  8. Ehlmann will veto this bill but the County Council will override, voters reject in Nov 2012 1 [2%]

The issue was the casino exemption:

“If the purpose of the smoking ban is to protect the health of employees, there is no rational reason to exclude casino floor workers,” the Republican executive said in his veto message.

“If tobacco smoke is harmful, there is no reason to exempt cigar bars, while regulating bars that allow cigarette smoking.” (source)

The other answers were:

  1. How should I know?
  2. Who cares, St Charles county is a worthless pile of crap
  3. Why ban a legal product? Heavy perfume makes me ill…ban overly scented people
  4. I feel that speculating over what will happen is kind of pointless.

My reason for the poll was to show regional interest in going smoke-free.  Maybe there isn’t such interest? Expect additional bills to bring this to voters, most likely without an exemption for casinos.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: When Will St. Charles County Go Smoke-Free?

Interesting news from St. Charles County last week:

The fate of a proposed countywide smoking ban is now up to County Executive Steve Ehlmann.

The County Council voted 4-2 on Tuesday night for legislation to put the proposal on the November 2012 election ballot. Ehlmann has yet to signal whether he’ll sign or veto the measure, which would apply to bars, restaurants and most other indoor public places. (STLToday.com)

With St. Louis City & County now smoke-free, with some unfortunate exceptions, it would be nice to see more of the region become smoke-free.

He [Ehlman] has 10 days to veto or sign the bill. If he does neither, the bill is automatically approved. (Patch.com)

This is the subject of the poll this week: When Will St. Charles County Go Smoke-Free?  The poll is located in the upper right corner of the blog.

I hope Steve Ehlmann doesn’t veto this bill so the question goes to voters in November 2012.

– Steve Patterson


Wish Smokers Would Be Neater

We are almost at the end of five months of St. Louis’ smoke-free ordinance for most establishments.  The other morning I snapped the above pic on Washington Ave.  Really? Can’t smokers be a bit neater and properly dispose of their butts? Opponents of the smoke-free law will likely try to say this wouldn’t be a problem if they could smoke indoors but the health risks of that are worse than this unsightly mess.

– Steve Patterson


Warning Smoking Allowed Here (Updated)

January 10, 2011 Smoke Free 127 Comments

I view compliance with the sign requirements of the new smoke-free ordinance as a sign the business owner is aware of the change that began on Sunday 1/2/2011. The last thing I want is to argue with a proprietor about the law, I want them to know the law so that if a fellow customer lights up inside the owner knows they need to ask them to take it outside or face fines.  Entering an establishment lacking the required n0-smoking sign or exemption warning gives me pause, especially if that business had allowed smoking prior to 1/2/2011.

Saturday I thought I’d check out the compliance of a few places that had allowed smoking, I decided to start with establishments owned by two aldermen.

Cat's Meow
ABOVE: The Cat's Meow owned by the wife & daughter of 9th ward alderman Ken Ortmann's

The Cat’s Meow at 2600 S. 11th in Soulard.   With only 1,173sf on the ground floor of the building there is no question that it falls under the 2,000sf necessary to claim an exemption.

ABOVE: Required warning sign over the door at the Cat's Meow

Above the entry is the required sign: “WARNING SMOKING ALLOWED HERE.”  The Cat’s Meow website makes no mention of food, clearly it is a bar.  A sign at the bottom of the door indicates patrons must be at least 21 to enter. It appears the Ortmann family is in compliance.  The Cat’s Meow, however, will need to go smoke-free by January 2, 2016.

Next, to Milo’s on the Hill owned by 10th ward alderman Joe Vollmer.

img_2488Milo’s is located at 5201 Wilson. No point beating around the bush, Ald. Vollmer is in violation of the new smoke-free ordinance.

img_2489The warning sign is posted to the left of the entry door, but no way does Milo’s meet the criteria for an exemption.  What criteria you ask?

Bars in existence on the effective date of this ordinance in which only persons aged twenty one (21) years old or older are permitted to enter the premises, the square footage of the entire floor area of the level of the building on which the bar establishment is located is two thousand (2000) square feet or less. The square footage shall not include kitchen areas, storage areas and bathrooms. The bar shall prominently displays outside of the premises at each entrance and above the bar the following sign in lettering that is black bold Arial font at (ninety-eight) 98 point size: “WARNING : SMOKING ALLOWED HERE”. This exemption for bars shall expire five (5) years after the effective date of this ordinance.

A bar is defined by the ordinance as:

“Bar” means an establishment that is devoted to the serving of alcoholic beverages for consumption by guests on the premises and in which the serving of food is only incidental to the consumption of those beverages, including but not limited to, taverns, nightclubs, cocktail lounges, and cabarets.

But in the case of Milo’s:

  1. Persons under 21 are permitted inside
  2. The ground floor of the building is 2,532sf which makes the under 2,000sf size questionable, at best.
  3. The website describes Milo’s as a “Restaurant, Bar, Bocce Garden” and has a complete menu.  Restaurants are not exempt.
  4. Food specials were advertised on a chalkboard out front.
ABOVE: Food hardly seems "incidental" at Milo's

My phone call to Ald. Vollmer was not returned.  He is up for reelection this year, he faces Republican Jessee Irwin in the April 5, 2011 general election.  I have filed a complaint with the Citizens Service Bureau (CSB).

– Steve Patterson

UPDATE 1/10/2011 @ 5:30pm

I had a very nice message from Ald. Vollmer today.  He explained the Health Dept visited his business and determined it was under 2,000sf as defined by the ordinance.  The Health Dept also defined “incidental” food as up to 25% of sales, which he says he meets.  Before January 2nd Milo’s allowed all ages to enter but now, to comply with the law, he is turning away groups that include persons under 21.  He’d like to change the law to remove the under 21 requirement but is now considering going smoke-free.