Premium Cigar Store Owners Unite to Fight Proposed St. Louis County Smoking Ban Vote

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A countywide smoking ban may be on the November ballot if some St. Louis County council members have their way, over the objections of premium cigar store owners, members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

A countywide smoking ban may be on the November ballot if some St. Louis County council members have their way, over the objections of premium cigar store owners, members of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.

"We want to go on record as being against this proposed ban and any legislated smoking ban, for that matter. Government should stay out of private business decisions like this. If a business owner decides to prevent smoking on the premises, that's fine. It's his individual right to do so. If government gets involved, pretty soon you'll have bureaucrats running whole industries like banking and finance, automobile, energy and healthcare," said Chris McCalla, legislative director of the IPCPR.

St. Louis County council members are expected to continue discussing the issue at their meeting on Tuesday, July 28. Council member Barbara Fraser has proposed putting the issue to a referendum. McCalla makes the point that minorities have rights and smokers are a minority.

"The only thing a smoking ban would do is lead the way in increased unemployment, failed businesses and deprivation of individual rights," said McCalla.

McCalla says anti-smoking forces often use misinformation and biased research based on junk science provided by organizations that are rarely challenged regarding the source, quality and truth of that research.

"For example, they say there are no safe levels for secondhand smoke. Not true. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is the federal agency charged with maintaining a healthy and safe work environment. OSHA has set safe levels for secondhand smoke that are exponentially higher than the air quality found in average restaurants and bars," he said.

McCalla explained that IPCPR members are, by and large, small, family-owned businesses who make or sell premium, hand-made cigars, pipes and premium loose tobacco and related accouterments and whose businesses comprise less than five percent of tobacco sales. Nearly 40 of the more than 2,000 IPCPR members live and operate businesses in Missouri.

"Our members pay millions in sales, payroll and excise taxes. Their neighborhood businesses employ thousands of people. Not only would these businesses be put at risk, but employment and businesses like restaurants and bars will suffer, as well, when patrons go to smoker-friendly establishments elsewhere. If smoking is banned - and we certainly are not saying it should be - then fattening foods, drinks and snacks must be banned because obesity is America's number one health problem," McCalla said.

Contact:
Tony Tortorici
678/697-3069

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