Smoke ’em While You Can
Although both Saint Louis City and County have recently passed a smoking ban (albeit a relatively mild one in the city), this has not placated anti-smoking crusaders in Missouri. Instead they are emboldened, now proposing a statewide ban on smoking in almost all public places. From the Saint Louis Beacon:
State Rep. Walt Bivins, R-Oakville, is leading a bipartisan cadre of at least 20 legislators who’d like to see smoking banned from most public places by next year.
In an announcement this week, Bivins and co-sponsor Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, say their aim is to create “uniform statewide smoke-free standards in bars and restaurants.”
But the bill, HB 1766, is generating lots of attention because it goes much further.
The measure also would outlaw smoking at public “aquariums, galleries, libraries, and museums,” as well as sports arenas, convention halls, bingo facilities and “At least eighty percent of hotel and motel rooms that are rented to guests;”
The few exemptions include private residents not used for day-care facilities, tobacco stores, those 20 percent of hotel/motel rooms and “outdoor areas of places of employment.”
Public smoking is already banned in some form in 23 localities in Missouri, including Saint Louis, Kansas City, Columbia, and Springfield. Furthermore, even in places with no smoking ban, many businesses either forbid smoking completely or offer patrons a nonsmoking option. So, what is the necessity of this bill?
The irony, of course, is that if smoking were so widespread that no nonsmoking options existed for drinkers and diners, a smoking ban could never get a hearing in the first place. It is only when there are already many nonsmoking businesses, and smokers are a small group, that the majority can impose its will upon them so thoroughly.
I am a smoker, but I have been trying to quit lately. However, if this bill passes, I think I might have to start smoking two packs of Pall Malls a day … out of spite.