The Smoking Wars: In Indiananopolis, A Smoking Ban Much Like Ours Failed to Pass

Categories: Smoking Bans
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Indy pols stubbed their own ban.
In 2009, Indiana had the second-highest smoking rate in the nation. Legislators felt compelled to come up with a smoking ban that was both workable and effective.

But as Abdul-Hakim Shabazz at NUVO, Indy's alt-weekly newspaper, reports, left to their own devices most politicians are capable of screwing up the law-making quite easily -- even if they're the ones who propose it.

The short version, and the part that's most relevant to St. Louis' ban, is that someone on the city council wanted to have everything their way, and use the process to handpick a new mayor.

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Fight Over Missouri's Cigarette Tax Heats Up; Lung Association Gives State Failing Grade

Missouri received its annual report card last week from the American Lung Association. The result ain't pretty.

The state earned an "F" for tobacco prevention and control (spending just $58,693 last year to prevent tobacco use statewide); an "F" for smoke-free air (with legislators refusing to pass a statewide smoking ban and prohibitions in St. Louis and St. Louis County allowing people to continue to light up in bars and casinos); an "F" for its 17-cent per pack cigarette tax (the lowest in the nation) and an "F" for it cessation efforts with Missouri spending 53 cents per smoker when the CDC recommends at least $10.53 per smoker.

For those keeping score at home, that's an "F" in all four categories, earning Missouri the worst marks possible. Yet just like those New Year's resolutions to quit smoking, hope springs eternal in Jefferson City. And in the past six weeks, the Secretary of State's Office has approved wording for some 14 different ballot initiatives that -- if they get enough signatures by May -- could land on the November ballot.

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Would This Image Keep You From Smoking?

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Saint Louis County Department of Health
No? Okay. But what if you saw it 26 times in one day? Then 52 the next? And 78 times by day three -- all the way up to 130 images by day five?

The Saint Louis County Department of Health's youth anti-tobacco initiative, Air-O-Dynamic, hopes the Grim Reaper images appearing this week in St. Louis area high-schools will encourage students to keep away from tobacco. Today through Friday at eleven high-schools (including Webster Groves, University City, Riverview Gardens and Nerinx Hall) 26 new posters (right) will go up in school hallways, representing the number of Missourians said to die of tobacco-related deaths each day.

But will the messages land their mark among among all the other Halloween hullabaloo this week?

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Missouri Workers Exceed National Average for Secondhand Smoke Exposure

Categories: Smoking Bans
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Nearly 12 percent of Missouri workers are exposed to secondhand smoke on their jobs, according a study published this week by the Center for Disease Control. That's nearly double the national average of around 7 percent.

The survey used data collected from all Missouri counties in 2007 and 2008. It found that rural white males and young African-American males were the most likely groups to be exposed to secondhand smoke in the workplace. Per the study:

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Cigar Store Owners Fight Push to End Smoking Ban Exemptions in St. Louis County

Categories: Smoking Bans
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Premium tobacco retailers pipe up against the smoking ban.
Former councilwoman Barbara Fraser made a cameo at the St. Louis County Council meeting Tuesday to urge her former colleagues to do away with exemptions to the county's smoking ban.

Fraser, who now serves as chairwoman for Tobacco Free St. Louis, said that exemptions granted to 153 businesses since the ban went into effect in January do little to protect the health and welfare of the community as intended.

"I implore you to remove the exemptions," the Post-Dispatch quotes Fraser as saying. "Why? Because secondhand smoke causes cancer, heart disease and serious lung ailments."

Fraser's comments set off alarm bells with the area cigar and pipe retailers. Chris McCalla, legislative director for the Georgia-based International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association, tells Daily RFT he's addressed concerns from several of his St. Louis members since Tuesday.

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72% of St. Louis County Voters Favor Stronger Smoking Ban, Says American Cancer Society

Categories: News, Smoking Bans
Except if you're a bar bar. Or a casino. Or...
A new poll commissioned by the American Cancer Society suggests that an overwhelming number of St. Louis County voters favor a stronger smoking ban.

According to the poll, 72 percent of likely voters support making all bars, restaurants, casinos and other workplaces entirely smoke-free. Moreover, 64 percent of the 400 people polled said they strongly support a stronger ban on smoking.

In January, a county ban went into effect prohibiting smoking in any bar and restaurant that earns more than 25 percent of its revenue from food sales. Dozens of bars have managed to get an exemption to the ban under that formula. Casinos are also exempted from the ban.

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St. Charles County Executive Vetoes Bill Calling for Vote on Smoking Ban

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Ehlmann argues that smoking ban cannot play favorites.
Steve Ehlmann, the executive of St. Charles County, today announced that he's vetoed a bill that would place a countywide smoking ban on the ballot in November 2012.

In a press release today, Ehlmann took objection to provisions in the bill passed last month that would allow Ameristar Casino and certain cigar bars in the county to continue to allow smoking under the ban. (St. Louis County and St. Louis have similar exceptions for casinos under their smoking bans.)

Said Ehlmann in his statement: "...I believe that when a regulation is passed to improve public health, exceptions to that regulation would be totally irrational. If the purpose of the smoking ban is to protect the health of employees, there is no rational reason to exclude casino floor workers. If tobacco smoke is harmful, there is no reason to exempt cigar bars, while regulating bars that allow cigarette smoking."

The county council, which approved the bill by a 4-2 vote, could override Ehlmann's veto if it secures a fifth vote in favor of the ban.

H/T: St. Charles Patch

St. Charles County Council Approves Public Vote for Smoking Ban

Categories: Smoking Bans
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The fate of the smoking ban now lies with St. Charles County Executive Steve Ehlmann.
By a vote of four to two, the St. Charles County Council passed legislation yesterday that would put a countywide smoking ban on the November 2012 ballot.

The issue isn't a done deal yet, as County Executive Steve Ehlmann could veto the proposal and keep it from the ballot. Ehlmann has been somewhat critical of smoking bans in the past -- and the council would need five votes to overturn an Ehlmann veto.

If the measure reaches the ballot and is approved by voters, the St. Charles County ban would apply to all businesses except the Ameristar Casino. Unlike smoking bans in St. Louis and St. Louis County, the St. Charles County ban would not exempt bars that earn most their revenue through alcohol sales.

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Let's Face It -- Youth Anti-Smoking Campaign Kicks Off in St. Louis County

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St. Louis County is nagging teens to give up the cancer sticks already.
Since the beginning of the year, the county's been quietly working on an anti-tobacco campaign aimed at St. Louis teenagers.

On Tuesday -- which is, not coincidentally, "World No Tobacco Day," because these days they have a day for everything -- they'll be discussing those efforts for the first time publicly. They'll also be urging local youth to sign a treaty vowing never to smoke (and to urge their friends to do the same). Think of it as a purity ring for the anti-smoking set.

Barry Freedman, project manager for the county department of health's "Communities Putting Prevention to Work" grant, tells Daily RFT that the county's federally funded $7.6 million smoking cessation effort is a drop in the bucket compared to what tobacco companies are spending.

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St. Louis Smoking Summit a Dud

Categories: Smoking Bans
We had imagined yesterday's "smoking summit" for St. Louis area officials would look something like this. Only instead of beer, the table would be full of ashtrays and mounds and mounds of those famously cheap Missouri cigarettes.

After a bit of frank discussion, the officials would sit back and relax (share the proverbial peace pipe, if you will) and agree to an area smoking ban with none of the hodgepodge of exemptions that currently exist.

That didn't happen.

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