County Smoking Ban Exemptions On the Way Out, Tobacco-Free St. Louis Says

Categories: Smoking Bans
Dooley Podium-thumb-250x275.jpg
County Executive Charlie Dooley: Is he about to get his way on smoking ban exemptions? Tobacco-Free St. Louis says yes.
The non-profit agency Tobacco Free St. Louis has a $545,000 contract with St. Louis County to -- among other things -- urge the county council to remove exemptions from the county smoking ban.

As we reported last week, the contract is being paid with federal stimulus funds, raising questions about whether federal tax dollars are being used to pay for lobbying (which is strictly verboten). Non-profits are also barred under IRS rules from using any more than "insubstantial" portion of their income on lobbying efforts.

But Pat Lindsey, the agency's director, tells Daily RFT that any questions about that part of the contract are moot. Getting rid of the exemptions, she implied, is already a done deal.


"We don't have to lobby," she says. "There are meetings going on right now with [County Executive Charlie] Dooley and the county health department and the powers that be to remove the exemptions in the smoking ban."

Adds Lindsey, "We're not involved."

So why was that included in the contract's scope of work? Lindsey says that the Centers for Disease Control, which was the source of the federal grant funding the work, required that the county partner with an active coalition. Lindsey's group, which is officially titled "Tobacco-Free Missouri -- Greater St. Louis Coalition" was basically the only one around that fit the bill.

She insists her agency never even considered doing any lobbying: "We can educate, but we don't lobby."

And that's a good thing: IRS regulations hold that a non-profit with annual expenditures of less than $500,000, which includes Tobacco-Free St. Louis, can spend no more than $100,000 annually on lobbying efforts. Considering the contract with St. Louis County is worth five times that, any lobbying could quickly put the agency's non-profit status into jeopardy. (Bill Hannegan, director of Keep St. Louis Free, told Daily RFT last week he was thinking of filing a complaint over just that.)

But Lindsey says her agency doesn't intend to focus on the county council, despite the contract's scope of work. Confident the exemptions are on their way out, she says cessation efforts will be the agency's big focus. "It looks like we're not going to have do much [about exemptions]," she says. "We're going to be doing other things."

For the record, Lindsey tells Daily RFT she doesn't think the county will remove the exemption that allows smoking in casinos any time soon. But, currently, the county allows smoking in bars where food sales are 25 percent or less of the total revenue. (The city ban only allows smoking if the bar is no larger than 2,000 square feet.) Dooley has indicated his unhappiness with the number of places being exempted -- and Lindsey tells Daily RFT she's heard the current level of food sale exemptions is on the chopping block.

"Just the other day, a gentlemen called who said, 'What's the point of this ordinance when people who serve food are still allowing smoking?'" she reports. "We've received a lot  of complaints."
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Michael J. McFadden
Michael J. McFadden

These antismoking stories always confuse me. E.G. They claim the bans are good for biz, then complain that bars ignoring the bans are hurting the bars implementing the bans. They claim everyone's happy with a ban, yet they fight lifting it because everyone will want to return to being unhappy by allowing Free Choice again. And now this....' They signed a contract for a half million dollars that they now say they had no intention of fulfilling? Have they just submitted to scamming a half million of stimulus money from the American people? And the Tobacco Free group claims that they are 'not involved" with the county health department which is holding meetings to fight exemptions? I could have sworn I'd heard they'd had some contacts somewhere along the lines. And Lindsey says "getting rid of the exemptions is already a done deal" but Lindsey "doesn't think the county will remove the exemption that allows smoking in casinos" ?' Do you see why I'm confused? It's sort of like when they call themselves a "Clean Air" group but lobby against standards that would make the air in smoking establishments cleaner than the air in non-smoking ones. Or when they say they're worried about cigarettes being sold to kids and then lobby for taxes that increase the black marketeering that makes cigarettes freely available to kids. Or like any of a dozen or so other lies.' Simply getting rid of these groups would make things SO much less confusing... and so much more honest.' Michael J. McFaddenAuthor of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

susieque2
susieque2

Hannegan, file the complaint. It's about time someone did.

Thrmshield
Thrmshield

Since when do Government officials get away with funneling money into organizations that they sit on the board of? Better ask St. Louis County Department of Health how they do it legally. $545,000 is a lot of money to give to personal interests.

Just imagine of George Bush had given taxpayer dollars to companies he sat on the board of. It would be front page story.

Bill Hannegan
Bill Hannegan

"I cornered him in the council chambers, and Dooley told me, ‘It will all work out.' And then he pointed at the council and said, ‘We never wanted the casinos included in that ban anyway.' And I told him, ‘It isn't what you want. It's what the people want. And an overwhelming majority - over 65 percent - voted to ban smoking."http://www.stltoday.com/news/l...

Sounds like lobbying to me.

Read the full article above and tell me with a straight face that lobbying wasn't the main purpose of her group until the RFT nailed her!

Tonypalazzolo
Tonypalazzolo

I wonder if she considers corning a politician in his office and demanding that they remove the exemptions educating or lobbying?

Generalsn1234567
Generalsn1234567

Unfortunatly, major news media is reluctant to reveal big pharmas marketing strategy concerning smoking bans. Much of their commercial income is from big pharma. We are constantly bombarded with request to "tell your doctor" to presribe our product. They need to repeal the law that allowed prescription drugs to be advertised to the general public.

Bill Hannegan
Bill Hannegan

So Pat Lindsey and Tobacco Free St. Louis is not currently trying to influence this process? I'll bet their lobbying is high gear right now.

LadyNiko
LadyNiko

As for the smoking ban - if you didn't want it, then you should have gone out to the polls in force to vote it down.

It is nice now to walk into a restaurant and not have to smell the cig smoke coming from the bar, but annoying that some people still feel the need to hang right outside the doors smoking and having to walk through it is bad enough at times!

citizenwhowantstokeepherrights
citizenwhowantstokeepherrights

Does anyone not see the socialism coming about here? We own our business it has a no smoking sign on the front door. We own the property, pay the taxes and take the chance on making money. When does is become the government's business to tell me what I should or shouldn't do with my property in regards to smoking. I do not smoke and I do not patronize businesses or resturants that allow smoking, but I STRONGLY disagree with making it a law. We have enough laws. What next, no more fried food at McDonalds because it is bad for us? Wake up here people, you have a choice (which btw one by one are being taken away from us) if you don't like smoke don't go to that business. If they start loosing business they will change their ways, if not no worries, go to a place that has no smoking. Ban smoking in government owned properties, if that is what the majority of people want, but leave private property alone, unless the government (which is you and me) wants to pay my taxes!

anonymous
anonymous

socialism?

shut the fuck up

MojaveMike
MojaveMike

Thank you for taking such a bold stand and demonstrating why citizenwhowantstokeepherrights has no valid argument for the stance she has taken. If it wasn't for people with the courage to stand up and speak their mind publicly the way you do, Mr. ... er..."anonymous", our whole society might be overrun with individuals doing what they want with their own property. Thanks again!

Windyhorn
Windyhorn

Keep your nose out of my business if you don't like it. My business - my rules. No more government intrusion into everyone's lives.!!!!!!!!!!!! Tea Party Unite against this treading on individual liberty.

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