By Rachel Lippmann
St. Louis – Differences between proposed smoking bans in St. Louis city and county have held up action on the city's efforts to go smoke-free.
The measure that will go to St. Louis County voters in November allows smoking in bars that make 75 percent or more of their money from sales of alcohol. The ban being considered in the city does not have that exemption, and aldermen on the committee studying the bill want to know the impact that could have on the city's revenue.
"The original presumption was that we wanted to be level," said alderman Stephen Conway, one of seven members on the nine-member Health and Human Services committee to ask for the delay. "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." The city could lose 15 percent of its sales tax revenue without a level playing field, Conway said.
Sponsor Lyda Krewson was optimistic about the ultimate outcome, despite her surprise at Tuesday's delay.
"I think that most of the people have worked really hard on this bill, and have thought through it over a long period of time and are for smoke-free air are still for smoke-free air," she said. The Health and Human Services committee has been reviewing the measure for almost five months. The chairman says a vote will come next week.