Premium Cigar Store Owners Unite to Fight Proposed St. Louis County Smoking Ban Vote..

July 27, 2009 - The State of Missouri is kind of backward when it comes to protecting its people from the adverse effects of tobacco use. Missouri has NO smoking ban and has resisted any increase in the cigarette tax last increased in 1993. The tax on a pack of cigarettes stands at 17 cents the second lowest in the nation and second lowest behind only South Carolina at seven cents a pack. Restaurant and bar lobbyists have blocked any statewide smoking bans.

Now we [hear] a countywide smoking ban may be on the November ballot if some St. Louis County council members have their way, over the objections of premium cigar store owners, members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR).

"We want to go on record as being against this proposed ban and any legislated smoking ban, for that matter. Government should stay out of private business decisions like this. If a business owner decides to prevent smoking on the premises, that's fine. It's his individual right to do so. If government gets involved, pretty soon you'll have bureaucrats running whole industries like banking and finance, automobile, energy and healthcare," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

St. Louis County council members are expected to continue discussing the issue at their meeting on Tuesday, July 28. Council member Barbara Fraser has proposed putting the issue to a referendum. McCalla makes the point that minorities have rights and smokers are a minority.

"The only thing a smoking ban would do is lead the way in increased unemployment, failed businesses and deprivation of individual rights," said McCalla.

Don't listen to this rhetoric - just look around at how many cities, counties and states have gone smoke free and have had positive results. For example: In Pueblo, Colorado a smoking ban caused heart attacks to drop by more than 40 percent. Mayo Clinic Dr. Paul Scanlon who specializes in lung diseases related to smoking says smoking and secondhand smoke (SHS, passive, side stream, involuntary) increase your risk of many illnesses including lung cancer, emphysema and heart attack. Why don't the educators at Washington University or Saint Louis University step forward and tell the people about the dangers of involuntary smoking??

Reference: Premium Cigar Store Owners Unite to Fight Proposed St. Louis County Smoking Ban Vote, Tony Tortorici 678/697-3069,, 7/26/2009.

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