Imagine losing your business, into which you have invested blood, sweat, tears and lots of money, solely because a customer used a legal product — in this case, tobacco — inside your place of business! That is exactly what is being proposed in a bill sponsored by St. Charles County Council member, Joe Cronin.

During the past year, the St. Charles County Council has taken up such bills endangering property rights — not once, but twice.  Fortunately, both failed to make it to the ballot.  The Council was asked to pass a fair compromise bill earlier this year but they refused. Now that 22,850 St. Charles voters have signed a petition to place an excellent compromise on the ballot, the Council is seeking to subvert the effort.

The people who want to trample business owners’ property rights are unwilling to work toward a mutually agreeable solution.  It’s all or nothing.  They want to penalize businesses for the use of a legal product – tobacco. They are so hell-bent on accomplishing their mission that they are willing to put businesses out of business. Councilman Cronin is leading the effort.

Those who do not believe that business owners should be allowed to make decisions on the use of legal products try to scare people. They claim that banning the voluntary use  of, and exposure to a legal product is necessary for public health reasons.  That’s rationalization for nanny state government intrusion into private businesses.

The fact of the matter is that no one in St. Charles County is exposed to second-hand smoke who does not willingly choose to be.  The only exception to this might be children, whose parents or guardians smoke, but even the Council’s latest errant proposal won’t stop that exposure!

The logical solution to this “problem” is for folks who are bothered by it to simply not to go to places that allow smoking.  The nanny state supporters will claim employees are involuntarily exposed to smoking.  I’m pretty sure indentured servitude ended in America quite some time ago, at least in business.  No employee is forced or mandated to work in a place that allows smoking.

However, because Americans have generally become soft on individual rights, we are more willing to accept sounds-good, feels-good proposals like a smoking ban.  ‘Seems the only time we might get upset is when someone talks about taking something we like.  Get ready, it’s only a matter of time.

Working with businesses around the county,  we developed a compromise proposal.  It places a smoking ban on every business in the county.  The difference is that a business can make a decisions like businesses do every day about changes they could make to remain a smoking establishment. You can see the initiative petition sign-up sheet and charter amendment here. The primary points are:

  • All establishments allowing smoking must have a clearly placed sign at their entrance(s) stating they are a smoking establishment.
  • Smoking allowed in establishments serving those 21 and over.
  • Other venues may allow smoking ONLY in ventilated and enclosed areas separated from the rest of the building or facility.
  • Cigar bars and tobacco shops can allow smoking.

We collected and turned in 22,850 signatures to the St. Charles Election Authority on Wednesday. The initiative petition was simple and straightforward.  Opponents claim that people were “fooled” into signing the petitions.  But as you can read, the information was straightforward on the petition and the two-page (versus twenty-four pages for the Council bill) charter change was available for all to read.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t sign petitions that I don’t read.

The Council should stop playing games with the livelihood of so many businesses in St Charles County.  Let the people’s voice be heard on the initiative petition. Let businesses and consumers make their own choices. More government IS NOT the answer!