Federal grant money to be used to lobby for tougher St. Louis smoking ban

This is interesting, and I’ve never heard of anything quite like this before. Health officials in St. Louis County, Missouri, are using $2 million in federal stimulus dollars to implement a public relations campaign to lobby the county council to impose a more strict smoking ban in the county.

It’s a county agency contacting with a PR firm, using federal money, to lobby its own county council.

That’s gotta drive libertarians insane. And it’s a lot of money — $2 million. I guess I wouldn’t find it so weird if it were a lot smaller dollar amount. What are they really going to spend $2 million on?

St. Louis County currently has a restaurant smoking ban, with exemptions for standalone bars and casinos. The county health agency will lobby for a comprehensive ban.

I see my old friend Bill Hannegan quoted in this story. He is a noted (and very busy) activist from the St. Louis area against smoking bans — one of the sane ones, though I rarely come remotely close to agreeing with him. I grudgingly have to agree with him on this one, though, this is really kind of an odd story.

One thought on “Federal grant money to be used to lobby for tougher St. Louis smoking ban”

  1. Health director says Tobacco Free is in line with tax law

    Read more: http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metro/health-director-says-tobacco-free-is-in-line-with-tax/article_f711524a-67ff-52be-b8dc-4ed68e198a42.html#ixzz1mHkZDuNW

    According to IRS rules “no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation… An organization will be regarded as attempting to influence legislation if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members or employees of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.” http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=163392,00.htmlClearly one of the main jobs assigned to Tobacco Free St. Louis was the altering of existing public smoking ordinances in St. Louis County. That sort of assignment is not permitted to 501(c)(3) organizations. The Health Department chose the wrong group for this task.

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