Alderwoman Lyda Krewson, whose central corridor ward includes some of the City’s best restaurants and most popular bars, has informed her colleagues — and some members of the St. Louis county government — that she plans to begin a new public discussion of smoke-free public places in St. Louis. The vehicle for the conversation is a bill she is introducing that will restrict smoke in public spaces like bars and restaurants in the City, when St. Louis county does the same thing. She says, and I strongly agree, that including the county in the conversation sidesteps many of the usual arguments about creating advantages and disadvantages for the businesses of one jurisdiction or the other. Neither of us will support an ordinance that hurts the City’s small businesses.
As the discussion begins, I want to remind its participants of two things:
First, the biggest impediments to a reasonable and speedy regulation are going to be the zealots on both sides of the issue. The most likely outcome in St. Louis — as in nearly every other place with a law — is going to be some sort of compromise. Smoking is, after all, a perfectly legal activity.
Second, the outcome is, I believe, a foregone conclusion. There is going to be some sort of smoke restriction in the City soon. The nature and scope of the restriction will be the subjects of the discussion. I hope that the discussion remains civil, though there are plenty of examples around of a local propensity to scream through public discussions. We can only hope that this particular conversation is an exception.