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

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


Poll: Will Area Businesses Be Ready On January 2nd For New Smoke-Free Laws?

December 26, 2010 Smoke Free, STL Region 26 Comments

nosmokingsymbolOne week from today, Sunday January 2, 2011, new smoke-free laws will begin in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

In the city it is ordinance 68481, the St. Louis City Smoke Free Air Act of 2009.  There are a few notable exceptions, small bars in particular:

7. 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.

So a place that is 2,200 square feet with 400sf of that in kitchen & bathrooms cannot be exempt? I can see a lot of confusion over this exemption.  But clearly places that believe they are exempt need to post a sign outside indicating as much. On January 2, 2016 their exemption goes away.

Conversely all other establishments are required to indicate they are smoke-free:

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.

I can imagine many smoke-free businesses failing to indicate they are smoke-free as required.

St. Louis County’s law has similar requirements for signs:

Signs clearly stating smoking is prohibited must be prominently displayed on the outside of the establishment at all public and employee entrances. A person having control of a place shall clearly and conspicuously post “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) near all entrances where smoking is prohibited pursuant to this chapter. Such signage shall consist of letters not less than one inch in height. (605.050)

St. Louis County has a different exemption for bars:

Drinking establishments which are in operation on or before the effective date of this chapter; provided, however, that no smoke infiltrates into areas where smoking is otherwise prohibited, and further provided that each such drinking establishment has posted in a place visible to the public from its exterior a certificate of exemption issued by the Department of Revenue. Click here to apply for this exemption.

Confused yet? Take the poll this week (upper right) on how ready you think area businesses will be next week.

– Steve Patterson


Readers Do Not Support Exempting Casinos From Smoke-Free Laws

In the poll last week readers overwhelmingly support banning smoking in casinos.

Q: Should casinos be exempt from Smoke-Free laws?

  1. No, smoke-free laws are in place to protect workers, including casino workers. 82 [62.12%]
  2. All 21+ businesses should be exempt (casinos, nightclubs, etc) 23 [17.42%]
  3. All smoking bans should be repealed, exempt everyplace! 12 [9.09%]
  4. Yes, casinos should be exempt because of their economic impact, but not bars, etc. 9 [6.82%]
  5. Other answer… 4 [3.03%]
  6. Unsure/no opinion 2 [1.52%]

The four “other” answers were:

  1. NO! All public places should be smoke free.
  2. Air filtration systems to a certain safe air code.
  3. No, it’s not about workers, it’s about everybody.
  4. Casinos should be banned.

This as Illinois is considering amending it’s smoke-free law to permit smoking in casinos.

islecapegirardeaunewpromoLast week a community considering a smoke-free law, including casinos, was granted the final casino license in Missouri:

“The Missouri Gaming Commission awarded on Wednesday the state’s 13th and only available gaming license to St. Louis-based Isle of Capri Casinos, which wants to build a $125 million casino in Cape Girardeau.” (St. Louis Business Journal)

Last week I heard a radio commercial for smoke-free gambling at Harrah’s St. Louis:

“Remember that so-called “non-smoking” section tucked away in the back corner of the casino filled with the most unpopular games? Well, we’re shaking things up! In addition to our smoke friendly casino, we’ve also created the largest smoke-free casino featuring over 600 of your favorite games and tables!” (Harrah’s)

I don’t like casinos either way but the workers have no choice if they want to remain employed.

– Steve Patterson


Poll: Should Casinos Be Exempt From Smoke-Free Laws?

ABOVE: The Casino Queen casino in East St Louis IL is smoke-free, for now.
ABOVE: The Casino Queen casino in East St Louis IL is smoke-free, for now.

Casinos are not for me, even if they are smoke-free.  Since the first of 2008 casinos in Illinois have been smoke-free.  In July 2009 the St. Louis Federal Reserve released a study, No Ifs, Ands or Butts: Illinois Casinos Lost Revenue after Smoking Banned,  showing Illinois lost $200 million in 2008 and the local economies lost $12 million:

“One of the reasons that the smoking ban has been more contentious for casinos than for other types of businesses is the contribution that gambling taxes make to state and local tax revenue. In Illinois, casinos are subject to a per-capita admissions tax, as well as a progressive tax on gambling revenue. Revenue from these taxes is divided between the state government and the governments of the communities in which the casinos are located.”

When the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County passed smoke-free laws in 2009 both exempted casinos.

ABOVE: River City Casino in St. Louis County will continue to have smoking even after January 2, 2011
ABOVE: River City Casino in St. Louis County will continue to have smoking even after January 2, 2011 when other businesses in St. Louis County go smoke-free.

Now the Illinois legislature is considering exempting their casinos.

“Smoking could soon be allowed again in Illinois casinos. State legislators are considering changing the two-year-old law because casino profits and local revenues are being hit hard.” (KMOV)

For the poll this week I’m asking if casinos should be exempt from smoke-free laws.  I’ve included a range of answers but if one doesn’t fit you can fill in your own.  The poll is in the upper right corner of the blog.

– Steve Patterson


St. Louis City & County Go Smoke-Free In Less Than Two Months

November 5, 2010 Smoke Free 9 Comments

St. Louis City & County, with some exceptions, will go smoke-free in less than two months, on January 2nd, 2011.

For some of us it can’t happen so enough while others fear the day or think their business is grandfathered.  Numerous businesses have been opting to go smoke-free all year to attract customers that might have stayed away previously.

I hope to post more detail on the regulations and the allowed exemptions.  But, like so many things, enforcement may come down to citizen complaints. Some establishment owners are going to try to get away with allowing smoking.

– Steve Patterson