Aldermanic Committee Postpones Vote on St. Louis Smoking Ban

Sep 30, 2009 at 7:03 am
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen's Health Committee yesterday delayed voting on a bill to ban smoking inside city bars and restaurants.

Tuesday's meeting was adjourned so aldermen could wait until next week to receive an estimated economic impact of the ban. Chief among the aldermen's concerns is a ban proposed in St. Louis County that goes before voters on November 3.

The county ban would still allow smoking in "drinking establishments" that earn three-fourths of their income through the sale of alcohol. The city ban, meanwhile, would ban smoking in all bars and restaurants without exception.

As alderman Stephen Conway told St. Louis Public Radio yesterday, the fear is that the city could lose the tax revenue of smokers if it enforces a stricter ban.

"The original presumption was that we wanted to be level," Conway told the radio station. "And today I think everybody was shocked, and obviously it was so overwhelming that none of my colleagues wanted to jeopardize the city businesses as compared to the county."

Conway says the city could lose 15 percent of its sales tax revenue without a level playing field.