Tagged: Smoke-Free

Smoke-Free St. Charles County

One of the biggest fights in making the St. Louis region smoke-free is concensus from the three most populous counties on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. Anyone who’s following the movement to make our communities healthier knows that the state of Illinois has already made its communities smoke-free, and done so in commendable fashion. Missouri . . . not so much.

A smoke-free ordinance will go into effect in St. Louis City (its own county) come January 1, 2010 but the ordinance leaves much to the imagination as it makes exceptions for the worst offenders. While this change will be better than nothing, real change will not occur until St. Louis County enacts its own smoke-free ordinance. Certain municipalities within St. Louis County have already pass smoke-free legislation – hooray – but we’re talking low single-digits in a County that has 91 (ish) independent cities. St. Louis County’s argument has been that since it lies in between St. Louis City and St. Charles County, it’s needs both of the counties that sandwich it to be on board before it can pass anything meaninful. Well people, the time is nigh.

I received the email below this morning, and as you can see, it’s the beginning of the end for public smoking in St. Charles County. Obviously nothing has happened yet, but the fact that this topic is even being discussed at the County Council is real progress. I remember when these meetings first started in St. Louis City. Enough people got behind the movement to keep the momentum growing. Change happened. The City has shown it can happen, and so people in St. Charles County who care about good public health need to step and make themselve heard. If you live in this community, please go to these meetings and speak up.


Dear Smoke-Free Supporter,
As you may know, the St. Charles County Council is currently considering placing a smoke-free ordinance on the ballot. Supporters of smoke-free air must have a continual presence of different coalition members/supporters at the twice monthly County Council meetings.
We need YOU!
Please come to this coming Monday’s County Council meeting – Monday, April 26 – 7:00 PM.
at the Historic Courthouse
100 North Third Street
St. Charles, MO 63301
Phone 636-949-7530
Fax 636-949-7532

Smoke-Free St. Charles County coalition member Louise Cheli has offered to coordinate our efforts for the April 26 meeting. Her email is: lpc555@prodigy.net
Our goals for these meetings are 1) to fill the room with supporters wearing BLUE and our blue smoke-free buttons, and 2) to consistently have the maximum number of speakers during the public comment section of the meeting. 
Any speaker suggestions from anyone? Smokefree restaurant owners? Be sure to let Louise know! Thanks!!!
Kay Young
Be there!

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I crossed 8,000 words last night. Congratulations to me! Just kidding, but having a deadline sure is helpful. I’m restructuring my days to make sure I have time to hit 2,000 words. Plus, I’ve gained a little confidence in the direction of the story itself, which is helping. Whenever I attempted to write anything in the past, as soon as I had decided on the plot, I would immediately feel like the story was old and predictable. I always had difficulty understanding how someone could remain energized about writing a story to which they knew the ending. The reason being that I would constantly imagine the reader having the same knowledge, or that every word they’d read up to that point was obviously pointing to a very predictable conclusion. Does that make sense? I’m slowly coming to terms with this and getting better at separating the writer / reader roles.

There were some surprises in the elections held around the country yesterday. The New York ones were most fascinating to me. Inspite spending almost twenty times the amount of money has his opponent, Michael Bloomberg only received 52% of the vote in NYC. He won another term but the results were a slap in the face to someone who expected to win by 20 points. Further upstate a seat held by Republicans since the Civil War (when Republicans weren’t of the scary variety they are today) was lost to a Democrat due to infighting in the Grand Ol’ Party. Elsewhere, Democrats lost a couple of governorships. The big news locally was that umbrella smoke-free legislation passed for St. Louis County and St. Louis City. These laws have some pretty ridiculous loopholes in them, and this is where the best news comes in. Given the overwhelming support for this health initiative, some of the original opponents of the legislation are now joining forces with unlikely partners like the American Cancer Society to remove the exemptions, which mostly apply to small bars and casinos. Pro-smoking advocates realize their position is weak so they’re now working to make the playing field level, which is commendable and best for everyone.

The weather looks great going into the weekend so I hope to do some of my travel this weekend via scooter. And my wife and I will be planting a tree tomorrow. Her friends got her a tree for her birthday earlier this year and tomorrow’s the day it goes in the ground. We all have enough stuff, so this was a fabulous idea, tear-inducing in fact. For her, not me. Grrrrr, me likey tofu dogs and recycling, me manly, me no cry.

Is it November Already?

I’m approaching 4,000 words after a day and half of writing with “literary abandon”. The development of my plot is taking on a life of its own, which is great since I didn’t think the story through that much prior to beginning. The write-in at the St. Louis Bread Co. in Clayton on Sunday was well-attended. Seemed like a significant number of people were working on science fiction stories. I’m basing this conclusion solely on appearance and the extremely loud tangential conversations I overheard, over the already loud music piping out of my headphones. Anywho, onward and upward. I’m registered as “viharsheth” on NaNoWriMo.org if you want to be writing buddies.

The weak-but-better-than-nothing smoke-free legislation for St. Louis County, and indirectly St. Louis City, will be on the ballot on Tuesday, which is tomorrow people so get your asses to the polls, but only if you’re voting for the ban. If not, stay home and smoke a pack, or two!

I dressed up as a doctor for Halloween, and not any old doctor. I was the one and only Sanjay Gupta, M.D., neurosurgeon and CNN Chief Medical Correspondent. I only realized today I should have gone as something more “green”, like global warming, an oil spill, or a compact fluorescent light bulb. I promise to put more effort into it next year. I could get a lot of bang for my buck if I went as something like this and attending a GOP-sponsored Halloween party. Gotta raise awareness people! If only . . .

Smoke-Free St. Louis: Letter to the Editor

I sent the following letter to the editor to all the major local publications this morning:

To the editor,

A recent study by the City of Houston, Texas examined the effects of its smoke-free bar and restaurant law and found the ordinance did not have a negative impact on business.

As St. Louis debates the merits of becoming smoke-free, false fears of economic loss seem to plague progress. The only unbiased, accurate means to measure economic impact is to compare sales tax receipts for years before the smoke-free law, with all quarters after the law is enacted. Houston, along with hundreds of other communities, has conducted these studies and they all show the same thing – no adverse impact on business.

St. Louis and its leaders have fallen victim to predictions of economic doom and that’s a shame. This myth originated with the tobacco industry and its public relations firms in the 1980s. David Laufer of Philip Morris said it best in 1994, “The economic arguments often used by the industry to scare off smoking ban activity were no longer working, if indeed they ever did. These arguments simply had no credibility with the public, which isn’t surprising when you consider that our dire predictions in the past rarely came true.”

Despite the fact that these declines have never come to pass in any community in the country, the opposition has not stopped trying to use this myth to divert attention away from the health-basis of smoke-free air laws.

Let’s try to keep our eye on the ball, St. Louis. For those few who didn’t know it already, the U.S. Surgeon General, numerous scientists and doctors have confirmed that secondhand smoke causes cancer, heart disease and serious lung problems. It’s a no brainer to protect all patrons and employees from the carcinogenic smoke that lurks in St. Louis bars and restaurants.


Vihar Sheth

St. Louis City Resident

I haven’t been involved in the Smoke-Free St. Louis effort to the extent I would have liked but every little bit counts, right? Hopefully at least one of the publications will pick this up. I can feel the momentum building for a regionwide smoke-free law. If you would like to see St. Louis become smoke-free, send your own letter!

One Cancer Stick At A Time

I can feel the momentum! It appears as though a smoke-free St. Louis may be plausible after all. In today’s newspaper (they still have those?) an article outlines plans for Clayton, Missouri to go smoke-free. Nothing has been settled yet but holy cigarette Batman! would this be great news. For those of you who don’t know, Clayton is downtown St. Louis’ more homogeneous but relatively (sub) urban little sister. It’s where the law firms move when the City can’t pay the firms’ partners their dowry. In all honesty, some times it works the other way too.

One of the biggest problems with making a city smoke-free has been the attitude that everyone needs to be in “this” together or some businesses will suffer while others won’t. That’s mostly hogwash, and the municipalities in the metro area with bigger sacks decided years ago to make their public places smoke-free. Kudos to them. Looks like some of the more sizable ones are coming around.

I’m working with a coalition, Smoke-Free St. Louis City, to make the City of St. Louis smoke-free. The City is not quite where Clayton is in its thinking but a smoke-free Clayton would go a long way in influencing other major parts of town to mimic the behavior. This would also help reach a critical mass of influence with politicians, all of whom claim they don’t want to go at it alone; on the Missouri side of the Muddy Mississippi, St. Louis’ population is concentrated mostly in three counties, St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County. The leaders of all three have said they won’t jump off the bridge unless their comrades do the same. The hour is nigh!

I was bowling with friends last night at a laid-back, blue-collar establishment that sits within the borders of St. Louis County. Fun was had by all, though I bowled like a guy who’d lost his primary bowling arm. But, by the time I left, my hair smelled like smoke, my clothes smelled like smoke and my eyes were burning. At least my sister-in-law wore a Smoke-Free St. Louis City t-shirt in silent protest.

Making public places smoke-free is about protecting people’s health, and only about protecting people’s health. These efforts aren’t about restricting rights or shoving more government down your throat. Smoke-free means clean air for everyone, especially the people who work at places that currently allow smoking, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

FYI – Filtration systems don’t work and the studies that say second-hand smoke doesn’t kill are done by the same ilk of people that brought you studies claiming climate change is a hoax and the “theory” of evolution is wrong. Oh, maybe they’re Holocaust deniers too! If you believe those studies let me know, I’ll buy you a pack of cigarettes.