To the Editor:
A current Missouri legislative bill co-sponsored by Rep. Kathie Conway (R-St. Charles County) would compromise the health and safety of Missouri citizens as well as prevent them from determining what is best for their local communities. This bill would prohibit Missouri cities and counties from banning smoking in establishments where at least 60 percent of sales come from alcohol, tobacco, or entertainment.
Rep. Conway acknowledges that “smoking…is a bad thing.” Nevertheless she is still co-sponsoring this bill to “give restaurant and bar owners a little more control over their property and business.” If that is the case, then why isn’t she also sponsoring legislation to allow the business owner—and not the local government—to determine the seating capacity, number and location of safe exits, the temperature at which meat and other food products are stored and cooked, whether to control rodents and insects, and the cleanliness of his/her establishment? All these are regulated by local governments in order to promote and protect public health and safety. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke pose a very serious threat to public health. Why should it be exempted from local regulations?
Rep. Conway’s solution for giving restaurant and bar owners more control is to have the state step in and take that control away from local communities and the citizens who live in those communities.
Thus far, 25 cities in Missouri have enacted clean indoor air laws. In most cases, these laws were approved by a vote of the people living in those communities. Other cities have chosen not to enact clean indoor air laws. In any event, the state should not be allowed to usurp the right of local citizens to determine what is best for their local communities, especially at the expense of good public health policy.
Barry Freedman, Clayton, MO
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