People & Places

Best Gadfly 

Bill Hannegan

Few local issues have raised a stink as big as the looming bans that would prohibit lighting up in public places such as restaurants and bars. While national trends suggest that most major cities will go smoke-free in the next decade, cadres of smokers refuse to let their liberty get stubbed out. Believing that smoking in public is a basic civil right on par with freedom of speech, Bill Hannegan has appointed himself spokesman for the persecuted smoker. A self-described casual smoker, Hannegan started Keep St. Louis Free several years back and has been vociferously opposing public smoking bans ever since. He's managed to wrangle all kinds of press for his group and has kept his main rivals at Smoke-Free St. Louis City on their toes. While Hannegan is fighting for the rights of smokers in public spaces, he wages most of his battles online: You can find Hannegan's comments on most local news websites any time the smoking bans are mentioned. You might not agree with him, but you can't dismiss his persistence.

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