Fired Up: RFT readers are sharply divided on whether St. Louis bars should be smokeless

FEATURE, JANUARY 22, 2009

WHAT A DUMP!

Graffiti makes for eyesores: While I admire and value art in any form, especially in my beloved city of St. Louis, the fact remains that the majority of graffiti art seems to be created while trespassing on private property ["State of Street Art," Keegan Hamilton]. What gives these artists the creative freedom to break the law? Nothing! Just because a property is foreclosed on, it's still owned by some entity and is still private property. But $200,000 a year as quoted by Operation Brightside for graffiti removal? Maybe if taggers and "artists" would obey the law, perhaps that money could go directly to support their cause, not to remove unwanted and misplaced graffiti. Take the Poplar Street Bridge from I-55 to Illinois and see for yourself the mess. Powell Square and the buildings to the north and south are eyesores. If you were passing through town from parts beyond, your first impression would probably be that of disdain. I live here and that's my impression. There's a time and a place for everything. Hopefully, we can all figure out a way to accommodate both artists and appreciators of art of all kinds.
S.E. Williams, St. Louis, via the Internet

NEWS REAL, JANUARY 22, 2009

WHAT'S HANNEGAN SMOKING?

Smoke for brains: As a lover of short-fiction, I found the article on Bill Hannegan's outrage at smoking bans to be very revealing ["Drag King," Keegan Hamilton]. With short fiction, the last line of a story bears the weight of the whole piece. In this RFT piece, we hear about his enormous effort to "keep St. Louis free" of smoking bans. He has gone so far as to invest a substantial amount of money in his cause, even though he isn't an avid smoker. The last word is the "ballistic" Hannegan denying that he is, in fact, obsessive: "I've seen people get caught up in causes, and it can be a problem because it takes over your life." I don't know what motivates the man to believe he has the right to fill the lungs of innocent people with carcinogens, but he is clearly right that intellect isn't involved.
Kathryn Kellison, St. Louis, via the Internet

Burned up: This article is pretty one-sided and in favor of smokers. There's no mention of the thousands of people who prefer to drink and hear music without the smoke, and no mention of the employees who have to breathe it in all night. It's too bad the RFT covered one side of the debate.
Sara, St. Louis, via the Internet

Take it outside: Smokers aren't going to go to bars in other counties. They will step outside of their regular bars in St. Louis or St. Louis county. Let's think about this realistically: If you want to smoke in your watering hole where a lot of food is not served, then those types of bars should be able to permit smoking. But if something like 20 percent of revenue comes from food, then it should be banned. I go to bars all the time, and I hate the smell and taste of smoke. I don't understand why it is so hard to go outside.
Doug, via the Internet

What a drag: This guy Bill is annoying. Won't he just move to another city? He is the reason I still have to breathe disgusting cancer air in St. Louis. We are in 2009 — not 1960.
Tom, via the Internet

Smokers, unite: Attention, all smokers! You have clout as well as the non-smokers. I urge you to get out and campaign against each and every legislator who is trying to take away your right to do a legal thing. Be just as loud and determined as those who have let their voices be heard, and let them know how strongly you feel about the issue. Use your power and vote them out!
Carol R, St. Louis, via the Internet

Smoking ban is inevitable: "They hate people that say, 'If you don't like smoke, don't go to a bar.'" Yeah, we hate that, because it's a bullshit argument. Why should non-smokers have their rights infringed upon? Yes, we want freedom, too — freedom from cancer-causing carcinogens and stinky clothes and hair. Is it so much to ask the smokers to take it outside? Do they really care so little for the health of their fellow human beings? Mark my words, there will be an anti-smoking law in St. Louis, and it will be sooner rather than later. Our city can't be this far behind the curve forever.
Brian, St. Louis, via the Internet

STLOG, JANUARY 22, 2009

SMOKE BEATS SMELLY FEET

Cigarettes make dive bars bearable: I'm a non-smoker, and I think smoking bans are fascist ["St. Louis Smoking Activist May Soon Find Himself in Statewide Fight," Chad Garrison]! There is no law that says a bar cannot be smoke-free. Look at Jim Edmonds' Fifteen and the now-defunct rBar, among others. In a true capitalist society, people vote with their dollars. If smoke-free bars really were so much better, then they would make more money and the smoker bars would go under. This is not the case; St. Louis is one of the few remaining cities that still allows people the choice of what kind of bar to go to. I choose smoking bars. Also, I have to ask you this question: Have you ever been to a dive bar that doesn't smell like cigarette smoke? It doesn't smell good, I'll tell you that. It smells like feet.
NSR, via the Internet

 
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