Smoke Signals


Newly elected St. Louis County Council member Barbara Fraser may soon pick up where her predecessor left off.

In November Fraser, a University City Democrat, defeated incumbent Kurt Odenwald in a heated race in the county's Fifth District. Prior to losing that election, Odenwald made headlines for introducing legislation that would ban smoking in public buildings throughout St. Louis County. His most recent anti-smoking measure -- presented to the council last August -- was defeated by a slim 4-3 margin.

Now Fraser confirms she's in early talks on drafting similar legislation. Reached by phone last week, the councilwoman said it's premature to discuss specifics but acknowledged she's extended her discussion to members of the City of St. Louis Board of Aldermen.

Odenwald's anti-smoking bills were defeated -- in part -- from opposition by bar and restaurant owners who believed they'd lose business to the city if such a ban were adopted. Smoking bans introduced simultaneously in both the county and the city could assuage such fears.

Meanwhile, state legislators in Illinois are expected to take up debate this month on a house bill that would ban smoking in all indoor workplaces, including bars and restaurants. No such legislation is pending in Missouri.

Some fifteen states and hundreds of individual municipalities across the nation already have laws banning smoking in public buildings. For a list and maps, check out the Web site of the advocacy group American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation.

-Chad Garrison


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