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St. Charles County Republican Central Committee votes to oppose all smoking bans

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, May 13, 2013 - St. Charles County Republicans say they’re opposed to any sort of smoking bans, because they improperly “restrict private business owners' rights to allow the use of a legal product on their privately owned property.”

The St. Charles County Republican Central Committee announced over the weekend that it approved such a resolution by a unanimous vote among those present. The resolution states that the county GOP opposes any municipal or county ordinances to restrict smoking.

"This isn't an issue of pro-smoker or anti-smoker," said county GOP chairman Jon Bennett. "This is an issue of property rights, and the rights and choices that consumers are granted to patronize a business of their choice."

The St. Charles County Republican Central Committee’s action reflects the similar views of County Executive Steve Ehlmann, a Republican, but runs counter to governmental actions in recent years in St. Louis and St. Louis County to curb smoking in public places, including many restaurants and some bars.

Here’s the text of the St. Charles GOP’s resolution:

“The St. Charles County Republican Central Committee opposes legislation that creates disparate treatment of competing private businesses throughout St. Charles County by prohibiting smoking.

“The St. Charles County Republican Central Committee believes that government should allow businesses to choose whether to accommodate smoking customers or not and allow customers to choose whether or not to patronize smoking or non-smoking establishments. To do otherwise infringes upon the people's freedom.

“Therefore, the St. Charles County Republican Central Committee, while not condoning or promoting smoking, urges elected officials throughout St. Charles County to vote against measures to prohibit smoking in privately owned businesses.”

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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