Such steadfast devotion to his cause has made Hannegan a veritable messiah to local smokers and libertarian groups that admire his hands-off government ideals.

"He is kind of a dog with the bone," says Tony Palazzolo, a cigar lover who began supporting Hannegan's efforts after seeing some comments he'd left on a local blog. "He's committed to it, that's for certain. I'm pretty committed, but he's putting his own money into it."

Hannegan, meanwhile, is confident that a smoking ban in St. Louis won't be coming anytime soon. Presently, there is no legislation pending or ballot initiative being circulated that would prohibit smoking indoors in the state, city or county. Still, he has no plans to quit blowing smoke at supporters of smoking bans.

Bill Hannegan lights up an American Spirit in the bar of Herbie's Vintage 72.
Jennifer Silverberg
Bill Hannegan lights up an American Spirit in the bar of Herbie's Vintage 72.

"It never really stops," he says. "I'll be working, and I'm thinking about what's going on, what's next, who am I going to write, what am I going to say. When you get into a cause, it doesn't really stop, and it's always in your head. I've seen people get caught up in causes, and it can be a problem because it takes over your life."

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