from St. Louis on the Air
4:36 pm
Mon January 3, 2011

Smoking ban takes effect. Now what?

There must be thousands of St. Louisans struggling through day three of a new year's resolution not to smoke.  In fact, Barry Freedman, Project Manager for Communities Putting Prevention to Work with the St. Louis County Department of Health says a survey of St. Louis smokers shows that nearly 60% say they'd like to quit in the next six months.  

But sometimes resolve isn't enough.  Mark Twain may have said it best when he joked, "Giving up smoking is the easiest thing in the world.  I know because I've done it thousands of times."

Public health officials hope the new smoking ban will result in a culture change in St. Louis that will precipitate a decline in smoking, as it has in hundreds of communities around the nation.  And the decline can't come soon enough to a state with one of the highest smoking rates in the country.  Nearly one in four Missouri adults smoke cigarettes, compared to one in five nationally. 

Some other numbers from today's episode of St. Louis on the Air that you might find interesting:

  • $50    (the amount an individual can be fined for being out of compliance with the ban)
  • $100  (the amount an establishment can be fined for not enforcing the ban, first offense.)
  • $200  (the amount an establishment can be fined for not enforcing the ban, 2nd offense.)
  • $500  (the amount an establishment will be fined for each successive offense.)
  • 20%  (the number of rooms a hotel can exempt from the ban)
  • 25%  (a bar can apply for an exemption if it makes less than 25% of it's total sales on food)
  • 1,750 (the number of bars in St. Louis City and County)
  • 295 (the number of exemption applications on file)
  • 17 cents (the tax on a pack of cigarettes in Missouri)
  • $1.45  (the national average tax on a pack of cigarettes)
  • $245 million (the projected revenue generated in Missouri from tobacco in 2011)
  • $60,000 (the amount of that revenue that will be dedicated to smoking cessation and prevention        efforts.)
  • $700 million (the amount of additional revenue the state could bring in if the cigarette tax were increased to the national average.)
  • $7,593,110  (the award from the CDC to help St. Louis County implement a prevention program)
  • 1-800-QUIT-NOW (the state tobacco quit line---call it if you want to quit.)

Join the conversation.  Now that the smoking ban is in effect, what other measures would you like to see enacted to curb smoking in your community? Would you like to see a higher tax on cigarettes or more spending on prevention?  Or maybe you think the government should just stay out of it?

Leave your comments below, email us at talk@stlpublicradio.org, or tweet us @STLonAir.