St. Louis Public Radio News
3:29 pm
Wed September 8, 2010

Wash. U. study says smoking ban insufficient

ST. LOUIS –

Researchers at the Center for Tobacco Policy Research at Washington University say that smoking bans set to go on the books early next year are not sufficient to protect the public and that the number of loopholes in the bans are the most concerning.

A new report issued by the Center is questioning the impact of partial smoking bans set to go into effect next year.

Researchers examined nicotine levels at 20 bars and restaurants in St. Louis City and County.

Results showed that dangerous levels of second-hand smoke were recorded both on site and in hair samples of bar employees, according to researchers.

Sarah Moreland-Russell works for the Center, and she said the laws set to go into effect in January allow too many loopholes such as casino floors and bars smaller than two-thousand square feet.

"They have exemptions that happen to not protect everybody in the city in the county," Moreland-Russel l said. "So, until those exemptions are done away with and we have a comprehensive law, then no, they don't protect all patrons and employees."

Moreland-Russell also notes that bars with ventilation systems were shown to have no effect at reducing airborne nicotine.

Tom Bergman is the owner of the "34 Club" in the Central West End. He opposes the smoking ban, but agrees that any ban should be applied universally.

"Well if we're gonna do this, then let's do everywhere to include these casinos," Bergman said. "Because it sure isn't gonna help me if someone's allowed to sit somewhere else and drink and smoke and have a good time-but not in my place."

The bans set to go into effect in St. Louis City and County on January 2nd would exempt casinos as well as bars that don't get the bulk of their revenue from food.