Unfinished Business - Health and Fairness for All
Click on the interactive map to the left to get your St. Louis County Council person's contact information so you can let them know how you feel about the Unfinished Business we still have in St. Louis County.
Since the Saint Louis County Clean Indoor Air Act went into effect in January 2011, the Tobacco-Free St. Louis Coalition has been following its implementation. Before the measure passed, the county council added an amendment that allowed exemptions for establishments with revenues of less than 25 percent from food sales. The county council estimated that only 60-70 establishments would qualify. Owners of smoke-free businesses have spoken out against the exemptions asserting that they have caused an artificial competition.
On January, 26 the Coalition released a report stating that 145 exemptions are now in place, according to Saint Louis County Department of Revenue. Most of these are located in areas that already have disparate health and income issues. The Tobacco-Free St. Louis Coalition offers a look at what business owners, community leaders and health professionals have to say about this:
Stuart Slavin, physician at Saint Louis University
"The Coalition has diligently followed the smoke-free law, and we have learned that exemptions to that law for some bars, restaurants, and casino, 145 in all, are a significant problem. They have created unfair business competition between the exempt and non-exempt businesses, and more importantly, the health of all county residents is not being protected."
"The rate of exemptions is higher in the districts where health disparities are highest – making a bad health situation worse. The Clean Air Act was a positive and necessary first step to creating a less toxic environment for St. Louisans. But we’re failing those who need it most."
Rance Thomas, president of North County Churches Uniting for Racial Harmony and Justice
"Where people are most vulnerable in our community is where they are most likely to be exposed to second-hand smoke and poisonous air. These exemptions were put in place to accommodate certain businesses, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of public well-being."
Buffy McKinney, St. Louis-area resident who happens to work for the American Heart Association "My mom had a good job, but it left her with no choice than to breathe in the smoke-filled air around her – and that took her life. She died in 2010, and it is so tragic. It could have been prevented."
Derek Deaver, owner of Three Kings Public House
"…to have some establishments playing by one set of rules and others by a different set of rules has created confusion, and an unlevel playing field."