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Premium cigar store owners warn of bad fallout from smoking bans

Banning smoking in indoor public places would hurt the economy, owners of premium cigar stores say.

"The only thing a smoking ban would do is lead the way in increased unemployment…(and) failing businesses," Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retailers Association, said in a statement today.

St. Louis County Councilwoman Barbara Fraser, D-University City, has proposed a countywide vote on Nov. 3 on a smoking ban in indoor public places in the entire county. A bill for the election is on the preliminary approval segment of the agenda for next Tuesday's council meeting.

She said her effort is to provide clean air to residents. "Second-hand smoke is a detriment to health," she said. Whether the county will get a smoking ban would be up to the people, she said.

Gerard Ezvan, owner of Jon's Pipe Shop in downtown Clayton and an association member, said a ban would reduce the number of customers to stores like his and eating and drinking establishments that now allow smoking. The change would lead to the consequences that McCalla mentioned, he said.

Some customers want to relax with a good drink and cigar, Ezvan said. They will come less often to his store if they can't smoke in eating and drinking establishments, he said.

McCalla said nearly 40 of his association's more than 2,000 members operate businesses in Missouri.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch