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Council Mulls Smoking Shelters

Proposed amendment to smoking ban prompted a mixed reaction from the Creve Coeur City Council.

Members of the City Council broached the idea of "smoking shelters" on Monday, facilities that could provide a haven for smokers in a city with a strict public smoking ban.

An ordinance earlier this year went into effect that extends a public smoking ban That includes a smoking ban in bars and nursing homes.

City Administrator Mark Perkins asked the council members whether they would be open to the idea of amending that ordinance to allow for "smoking shelters," structures placed outside of buildings that could protect smokers from the elements.

“We have an existing office building that has a smoking hut, and we have not taken any enforcement,” Perkins said. “We would like to bring this for discussion. We think this warrants some considering. And this facility would not be climate controlled. It would not be for any other purpose besides (smoking).”

The facilities got a mixed reaction from council members. Councilwoman Beth Kistner, Ward 1, said if a smoking shelter is being proposed where there is a restaurant or a bar, it could turn into “kind of a shanty bar location, and that would concern me.”

“If you’re going to have congregating, presumably depending on the way prevailing winds are going, you could have a conglomeration of smoke blowing in some direction,” Kistner said. “It does bring up (questions about) why it would be desirable. But I think there would be some concerns that we’re not opening up loopholes.”

Councilwoman Charlotte D’Alfonso, Ward 3, also said she was concerned about cleaning the facility up, noting that cigarette butts could accumulate at the facilities. And Councilman Robert Hoffman, Ward 3, said the move could be a bad precedent.

“I think they’ll be in public view no matter what you try to do to them,” Hoffman said. “I think we’d be taking a step backwards to open smoking shelters.”

But Councilwoman Jeanne Rhoades, Ward 4, said that while she’s not an advocate for smoking, she said that the lack of amenities for smokers causes many of them to venture to public sidewalks.

“If there’s effective screening, I’m game to entertain it,” Rhoades said.

Other notes from the council meeting:

- D'Alfonso sparked a discussion about whether a staff member should be present when a council member meets with developers. D'Alfonso said such a move would be a "proactive, transparent measure" against combating rumors about "back room deals."

“I think rumors are potentially dangerous,” D’Alfonso said. “And as a councilperson myself, I would not feel comfortable meeting with a developer without having a staff member present to protect everybody.”

The discussion was effectively prompted by the

Kistner, who said she was at a discussion with a developer about the project, said meeting with people interested in an issue is a basic part of the job as a city council member. She also said she made no promises about any action that would occur in regards to approving the restaurant.

“I don’t consider a meeting like that is anything like informal vetting,” Kistner said. “I feel like my role as a representative to be open to residents and businesses when they have issues they want to talk about.”

- The council voted to approve the operating budget for the 2012 fiscal year that begins on Friday. The budget - which can be found here - was passed without opposition.

- Mayor Harold Dielmann was absent for the meeting due to an eye infection. Since Council President Tara Nealey, Ward 2, was also not in attendance, Councilman A.J. Wang, Ward 2, was in charge of the meeting.

Bob June 28, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Just wait a while. Here in my working class neighborhood in Chicago, the ban faded into forgotten history in adult bars as the second winter approached. They patiently waited for all these new customers, who never appeared. Now they still don't appear to complain LOL. No one cares.
Robert Fried June 29, 2011 at 02:33 PM
We should not cater to inappropriate habits. We do not have heroin shelter, so why should we have nicotine shelters? While nictoine containing cigarettes are legal when used in the privacy of the home, public smoking does more harm to innocent people than heroin does in my opinion. I never have anyone shooting up heroin or snorting near me, yet almost every week, there is someone smoking by me exposing me to toxic second hand smoke. Hypnosis should be considered for stop smoking. Visit: http://www.robertfriedhypnosis.com for more information.
Tom Wilson September 14, 2011 at 03:44 PM
As a government entity, you have no right to pass judgement on the legal habits of your constituents. It is not your place to condemn someone because they smoke. Personally I do not smoke but I am appalled at the righteousness of the council members who feel it is there duty to tell people they shouldn't smoke. This isn't just about where they smoke, it's that they shouldn't smoke, period. Smoking bans came about to clear inside air in public places and eliminate exposure to carcinogens found in 2nd hand smoke which in an enclosed environment may pose a health hazzard to those who choose not to smoke. They were also driven by the fear of litigation. Exposure to a little smoke outside is annoying but not anymore life threatening than breathing diesel exhaust on Olive Blvd during rush hour. You do not have the authority to take the rights away from our citizens. You have the responsibility to protect those who need protecting. What's next? The high and mighty megalomaniac council has issued the following decree. "No motorized vehicles, which, by the way spew carcinogens from their exhaust pipes, can be operated within the city of Creve Coeur." Next meeting why don't you take this matter up. Only electric vehicles may be operated in Creve Coeur. This whole anti-smoking thing is a witchhunt perpetuated by a self righteous few with a distorted sense of their own self worth/import who are overstepping their bounds of responsibility.

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