A bill to put the decision about a county-wide smoking ban on the 2012 ballot in St. Charles County was vetoed today by County Executive Steve Ehlmann, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
Ehlman stated in a release that the bill contained included exemptions for a casino, cigar bars and 20 percent of hotel rooms, and cited these exemptions as his reason for vetoing the measure.
The release also goes on to share more of Ehlman's reasoning:
“Tobacco smoke is disgusting to the non-smoker and unhealthy for everyone,” Ehlmann said. “I would urge all smokers to be more considerate of non-smokers, and all business owners to ban smoking from the workplace.
“But I believe that when a regulation is passed to improve public health, exceptions to that regulation would be totally irrational. If the purpose of the smoking ban is to protect the health of employees, there is no rational reason to exclude casino floor workers. If tobacco smoke is harmful, there is no reason to exempt cigar bars, while regulating bars that allow cigarette smoking.”
Ehlmann said government should not be “picking winners and losers” in establishing regulations. “I cannot sign my name to an ordinance that makes casinos and cigar bars the winners at the expense of the non-profit organizations and small businesses that compete against them for entertainment dollars of individuals who smoke.”
The St. Charles County Council had previously approved the measure by a 4-2 count on May 31. To override the veto the council needs five votes, and has 30 days to do so.
Ehlman told the Post-Dispatch that if the bill is not overridden "he's open to considering a revamped bill that includes no exemptions."