St. Louis, Missouri – Local premium cigar store owners who are small-business members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association are urging St. Louis County leaders to maintain their exemptions from the current smoking ban.
The Council is not required to give notice on amending a current law. Nonetheless, word got out that an amendment was being considered and proponents of both sides were represented at Tuesday night’s Council meeting.
"It’s too late to save all the businesses that were hurt, the scores of jobs that were lost, and the hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes that won’t be collected due to enactment of the current smoking ban. But only less than 200 establishments fall within the exemptions to that law and, because of the nature of their businesses, they should be allowed to remain exempt," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.
McCalla said that prohibitionists’ outrageous claims regarding the alleged negative health effects of secondhand smoke based on junk science are to blame for misleading the public and causing the economic and other unnecessary challenges to the sale of legal tobacco products.
"The levels of secondhand smoke that might cause potential issues to interior air quality are 25,000 times higher than might be found in normal restaurants and bars where smoking is permitted. That’s not just us saying that. It’s the Occupational Safety and Health Administration – OSHA – a division of the United States Department of Labor, which set these standards," McCalla said.
Some business establishments which are forced to comply with the ban feel that those exempt should be bound by the same restrictions.
"We firmly believe that there should be establishments for smokers and others for non-smokers. However, it should be up to the business owners to determine whether or not their establishments are smoke free or not. Just because one business owner is forced by law to do so doesn’t mean another business should be forced to do so, as well," McCalla pointed out.
"We are urging out members and their customers to notify their council representatives to tell them that the smoking ban is damaging enough to local businesses and that removal of the handful of exemptions that remain is adding insult to injury," he said.