Community Weighs in on the Smoking Ban Issue

Residents took definite sides on the smoking ban issue. The effort to put the smoking ban on the ballot was defeated, but it is likely to resurface through St. Charles County Council action or a citizen initiative petition.

Before the St. Charles County Council voted on the smoke-free ballot issue on Monday, several people addressed the council regarding the proposal.

St. Charles County Council members defeated the proposal to put the smoke-free issue on the November 2012 ballot.

Following are some excerpts from what residents said.

Sharon Lee, manager of Siteman Cancer Center in BJC St. Peters Hospital

“Tobacco use has a direct relationship to causing cancer.

“I don’t think this is about public rights as much as it is ‘Let the public speak.’ So once again, we would ask you to let the public make this decision. Let them vote in the November 2012 election, and let their vote be heard.”

Jerry Haferkamp of St. Charles

Haferkamp said the American Legion in St. Charles sponsors a bingo night to raise funds for charities and other projects.

“We get people from Belleville and Collinsville because the socialist state of Illinois declared no smoking. We get people from O’Fallon because the Legion there had to stop their bingo because they have a smoking ban.

“If we lose that revenue, we won’t be able to give $400 to American Legion baseball.”

He said the ban would affect all veterans' organizations.

“Don’t take away their liberty. They fought for it.”

Lauren Steinbruegge of St. Charles County

“In New York City, sales have actually increased since there has been a smoking ban. In a 2006 study by the University of Nevada-Reno, researchers concluded that four out of five patrons are actually nonsmokers. Casino customers do not smoke any more than the average U.S. population smokes, so the smoking ban would not affect casinos any more than any other businesses.

“Another thing to consider is that nonsmokers outnumber smokers 3-1, so according to research, any business lost due to the smoking ban would be recovered, if not increased, by the nonsmoking population that would patronize those businesses more regularly.

“It’s very embarrassing when my friends from O’Fallon and St. Louis County won’t even go to St. Charles purely because of the smoke. Why are we so far behind the times?

“Someone at the last meeting said we are all adults, and we have the right to choose where we do and don’t go. However, when we are the ones making a conscious effort to be healthy by not smoking, why should we be the ones who have to avoid certain businesses just so we don’t have to breathe polluted air? Doesn’t it make sense that the ones being bothersome to others should be the ones to leave?”

Carol Gold, owner South 94 Bistro

“’Civil and political rights are a class of rights that protect individuals, freedom from unwarranted infringements by governments and private organizations and assures ones ability to participate in civil and political life of the state without discrimination or repression. There’s equality and diversity, that no group should be superior in America’s society than another.’

“(That was) quoted by Rosa Parks Dec. 1, 1955 when she was asked by the bus driver to give up her bus seat to the white passenger—that was an ordinance written in Montgomery, AL. That’s what’s happening to smokers and businesses all over the United States. We are asked to step out by our government to smoke. The business owners now have unwarranted infringements by governments. What happened to our civil rights?

“Governments’ job is to provide protection to minorities in our society. Smoking is an easy target. Most people don’t like cigarettes, therefore, they don’t care too much about smoking bans. But these bans take away our freedom. Just because we don’t use a particular freedom doesn’t mean we should allow it to be taken away. Unfortunately, most people, because they are too busy, don’t realize the significance of what happens or it doesn’t affect them. They don’t do anything until the freedom has been lost, and it’s too late.

“These two bills will not only hurt the minority, but it also will be an unwarranted infringement by you upon the small business owners.”

Bobbi Carothers of St. Charles

“St. Charles prides itself on being a great place to raise a family: safe neighborhoods, great schools. Nevertheless, if you want to take your kids out to dinner and make sure they won’t be exposed to secondhand smoke, you’ll have better luck taking them to a casino in East St. Louis than you will anywhere in Old Town St. Charles.

“Illinois has protected the patrons of restaurants, bars and casinos from secondhand smoke for years. Smoke-free legislation has passed in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, O’Fallon and Lake Saint Louis. But I still can’t go down the hill to Trailhead Brewery and get their stout on tap without smelling like an ashtray.

"When my family comes out from out of town, I have to take them and my money across the river because they’re aghast that people still smoke in restaurants here. St. Charles cannot rightly claim to be family-friendly without a smoke-free policy.

"Surely the right to clean air in public places for the majority of the people who don’t smoke outweigh the rights of the minority who do smoke and fill the air with carcinogens where they please.

“Opponents claim to be worried about the rights of the business owners to run their businesses as they see fit. Let’s not kid ourselves. They are responsible for having items in their businesses that affect their customers.”

Jim Franke of St. Charles, general manager of Ameristar Casino-St. Charles

Two weeks ago, Franke said that according to estimates based on a smoking ban that affected a casino in Colorado, business would drop off about 20 percent if a smoking ban is enacted.

“This is simply a business rights issue. I did state two weeks ago, each person has the right to choose whether they enter our establishment. Absolutely, we do things with our air quality because we are concerned about our guests. We want guests to come in and enjoy our facility, and we want them to come back.

“A lot of people enjoy smoking, and we want to make them to be as happy as our nonsmoking guests.”

Franke had several Ameristar employees stand up.

“A vote to ban smoking costs them jobs. You guys want to pick them? Which one do you want to pick? It’s probably going to be a couple. People have choices. They can enter our facility or not. Our team members have choices. They can choose to work there or not. I’m a former smoker myself. I quit five years ago. I still choose to work there.”

"I agree that something is going to kill me. I will die at some point in time.  I don’t know when, I don’t know why. I don’t need government controlling every single thing I do. This is business rights. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

Steve Chapman, of Lake Saint Louis

“Anybody who thinks their rights are being infringed upon, nonsmokers rights are being infringed upon when they have to sit there and breathe in smoke.”

He noted that Franke brought in his employees and asked which one should lose their job.

“If you want to worry about which one will be fired or lose his job, have them stand back up and pick which one you want to get cancer, die and his family will be without them.

“Just give people the right to vote on this. That’s all we’re asking. Put this on the ballot and let’s vote.”

Marissa Caprio of St. Charles County

Caprio said she moved to Missouri from Philadelphia, which has a smoking ban.

“If you want to ban smoking, then ban alcohol because people drive drunk and kill people, and we can prove that happens."

She said in Philadelphia when they banned smoking, they had 24-hour restaurants.

“The restaurants ended up having to close down at 9, 10 o’clock because their business was down. How many jobs were lost? How many people couldn’t put food on the table because that was their only means of income? Government bureaucrats shut it down.”

markw November 30, 2011 at 04:22 PM
By all means sheeple vote yes on smoking ban, it only closed 500 Minnesota bars & restaurants, or about 1/3 of the total twin cities establishments...it sure saves time when deciding where to go out & eat up here. http://cleanairquality.blogspot.com/2007/01/100-bars-and-restaurants-put-out-of.html
David Kuneman November 30, 2011 at 09:34 PM
Personally, I don't like the smell of seafood restaurants, and about 8000 die each year from seafood poisoning-many more are sickened,, but we don't vote to ban seafood restaurants, which, if we did, would result in more steak houses. -which would suit me just fine. Me? I just don't patronize seafood restaurants.... Don't understand why some others don't have as much sense as I do.
Dwight Mullen December 01, 2011 at 01:17 AM
I'm a non-smoker, and a resident of O'Fallon, MO. I would just like to say that since the O'Fallon smoking ban went into effect, I have not patronized any O'Fallon dining, or drinking establishments. And since I usually go to St. Peters or St. Charles to visit these types of establishments, I also tend to just go ahead and do my shopping and spend my entertainment dollars in those cities while I am already there. While I do not smoke, I do not support a smoking ban, and choose to go where friends or family who do smoke can do so without the restrictions that are in place in O'Fallon. My family is not the only one making the decision to spend our hard earned dollars outside of our home community. O'Fallon businesses are suffering as a result of the ban; but you won't see the county council sharing those statistics, because our politicians are pushing them to make the whole county suffer in hopes of stopping the flow of consumer dollars being spent outside of O'Fallon.
Marlene Bakken December 01, 2011 at 06:13 AM
I can't believe we actually elect people who would allow voters to take away another person's private property rights! Do they not realize we live in a Constitutional Republic? If our country was a democracy, 51% of the people could decide they want to kill the other 49%. That is why our nation is a Constitutional Republic! Anti-tobacco anti-smoking proponents spend obscene amounts of money demonizing smoking like the nazi’s did. This has created hatred against an entire segment of society. They deliberately make people think that private property that opens to the public and public property that is taxpayer funded are one and the same. They are NOT! The public loses nothing with smoking bans forced on private property owners. They do not pay the taxes or upkeep on these privately owned businesses. They are accountable for nothing, including the losses incurred by these people who have invested their own money and sweat to hold on to a little bit of the American dream. If you don’t like smoke, DON’T GO! There was never a law that said a bar owner had to allow smoking, there should not be one that says you have to ban smoking! Our citizens died fighting for these rights! Now we have veterans standing outside in the rain and cold knowing their own country has turned it’s back on what they fought for. Our lawmakers of today don’t even have a clue what our Constitution stands for, they should be booted out, and John Q. Public should be ashamed!
Elizabeth December 01, 2011 at 07:30 PM
The anti-smoking groups always want to claim private property as public. It is not. If they want to make all public property (paid for by tax dollars and owned by the government) go ahead. Oh, right, it already is. Private property means that it is owned and paid for by PRIVATE owners. They may invite you onto their property, but that doesn't make it public. The way the anti-smoking groups throw around the word "public" they would have taken a moment to learn it's definition. The public being invited onto private property does not magically make it public property. If you don't like smoking, stick to public property and be choosy as to which private property invitations you accept!
Jonik December 02, 2011 at 02:44 AM
The question of whether it's "smoking" (individuals' behavior), or "tobacco" (never qualified for fake tobacco or highly industrially-contaminated tobacco), or if it's plain old tobacco leaves, that causes the reported harms has not been answered...or barely asked. Google up a site called "Fauxbaco" for a little "Smoking 101"...then ask some serious questions of the ban movements.
Michael J. McFadden December 02, 2011 at 05:21 AM
Bobbi wrote, "if you want to take your kids out to dinner and make sure they won’t be exposed to secondhand smoke, you’ll have better luck taking them to a casino in East St. Louis than you will anywhere in Old Town St. Charles." Well, I guess that's true if you are unfortunate enough to have had an accident that removed your eyes (so you couldn't see signs or ashtrays or people smoking), knocked off your nose (so you wouldn't smell the telltale smoke that antismokers claim lasts for hours), and chopped off your ears (so you couldn't hear the response if you handed the doorman/waiter a note asking if smoking were allowed in the place), but for people not so afflicted I would think picking a smoking-banned restaurant shouldn't be that impossible. Bobbi also said, "When my family comes out from out of town, I have to take them and my money across the river because they’re aghast that people still smoke in restaurants here." Are there truly no restaurants in all of St. Charles that ban smoking? It's quite possible I guess ... I'm not from St. Charles myself ... but it does seem rather unusual. It might even merit a TV Special Report! Might be worth tipping off the news agencies! Michael J. McFadden Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"
Andrea Williams December 02, 2011 at 07:06 PM
If you do not like Smoke, then stay home! There are plenty of places that serve food in St. Charles MO, that do not allow smoking. We as smokers know the dangers, we chose to smoke. We should not be singled out because we smoke! I thought we as people were above singling groups out, but I was wrong. We have rights just like everyone else in this country. If you do not like Smoke, then do not go to a BAR, or a Sports Bar where 95% of the people smoke. Stay home and COOK for your children. If the smoking ban passes, there are alot ot small bars that will go under due to the loss of revenue. People who chose to go to BARS know there will be smoke there, nobody makes them go there! We just want the same rights as everyone else, people who drink get cancer also, is there a drinking ban?
Michael J. McFadden December 02, 2011 at 11:44 PM
Andrea, the same justifications used to pass a universal bar/restaurant smoking ban could be used to pass similar bans on alcohol (Alcohol is a Class A Carcinogen that is highly volatile. A standard martini puts out roughly 1 full gram of that carcinogen into the air in the space of an hour. A cigarette has a number of uniquely identified carcinogens, but if you total them all up it emits only 1/2 of a single MILLIgram of them per hour: roughly 1/2000th of the amount coming from the martini.) and on daytime serviced patio dining (The workers forced to work at tables in such situations can get "partial protection" from malignant melanoma due to solar radiation exposure, but it's only partial... the same type of protection that ventilation systems offer in smoking bars and restaurants.) Alcohol and tobacco prohibitionists have strong historical ties, with the individuals and the movements leapfrogging from one to the other. In the early 1900s the American "Anti-Cigarette League" had outlawed smoking in 15 states before its efforts got overwhelmed by the focus on promoting and maintaining alcohol prohibition. When alcohol prohibition collapsed the cigarette prohibitions went down with it. Read the excellent "Art of Suppression" by British historian Christopher Snowdon for more on that if you wish. Highly recommended! - MJM
Andrea Williams December 06, 2011 at 06:39 PM
Drinking causes way more problems then smoking. Drinking caues cancer, family problems, and Death. You can smoke an entire pack cigarettes and not kill someone, but you drink and entire 6 pack or 5th and you can kill someone. They should focus on the real problems like the people who drink and drive, not people who smoke. It's a real problem when you can get your license taken away in 1 state and move to another and get it back and start all over again. I want proof that smoking causes as many health problems as drinking. Drinking kills your liver. We smokers should not be punshied and told where we can and cannot smoke, if the bar or restaurants chose to be smoke free, then let them, let them make that decision. Like I stated there are plenty of restayrants in St. Charles that are smoke free, but a bar is a bar and we go there to smoke!
Lisa December 08, 2011 at 09:49 AM
I'm always amazed that people who object to government "infringement" seem to think that corporate and addict infringement are perfectly okay. I'd rather be protected from secondhand smoke by government than protected from health, comfort, and safety by greedy corporations and selfish addicts who equate having to step outside for a smoke with living as a targeted minority under a genocidal dictatorship. Do people really have no sense of proportion at all?
Michael J. McFadden December 09, 2011 at 01:34 PM
Lisa, I would say that it's more those who feel that a law needs to ban smoking in ALL bars and restaurants that are suffering from a lack of proportion. - MJM
Anne D. Ayotte December 22, 2011 at 02:20 AM
I agree with Michael, and suggest that you all read his great book, Dissecting Antismoker's Brains. I know it's not a great title, but this book has changed my life dramatically. I was deceived by all the misinformation surrounding SHS even though I realized that things just did not add up, I had no proof. What is happening right now in the free world is nothing short of criminal, akin to organized crime at it's best. Antismoking groups have no real evidence against SHS, just half-truths and outright lies through manipulation. This is racketeering on a world wide scale and most are unaware of this. The newly approved smoking treaty which just came into effect now holds third world countries as hostages who must comply or else. This is extortion and a violation of basic human rights! Finally, for those of you wondering, I am independant of any tobacco companies or other interest groups in this area. I have never met Michael nor have I even had a conversation with him. This book stands on it's own merits, more than I can say for anything published by the antismokers. Read it, you will be amazed and you will even get a few chuckles from his light humour injected throughout. When you are finished send it to someone with some real political clout, someone who will ask the hard questions and expose these criminals for who they really are.
John Durajczyk December 22, 2011 at 06:18 PM
Considering drinking is the state pastime of Minnesota (what else is there during 8 months of winter) it means there's only 1 bar per block now...500 establishments is a drop in the beer barrel. Probably saved some innocent lives getting drunks off the roads, too!


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