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O’Fallon City Council Approves Tobacco Paraphernalia Ordinance

The ordinance restricts the sale and distribution of tobacco paraphernalia to tobacco stores.

Rolling papers, pipes and hookahs can now only be sold at O'Fallon businesses catering specifically to tobacco users, although the city doesn't currently have such a tobacco business. 

The  voted 7-2 to approve an ordinance creating new regulations for the sale of tobacco paraphernalia in the city, but not before some heated discussion at Thursday night’s meeting.

The ordinance, sponsored by Mayor Bill Hennessy, limits the sale of items such as rolling papers, pipes and hookahs, to businesses that cater specifically to tobacco users.

Tobacco paraphernalia includes, but is not limited to: rolling papers; metal, wooden, acrylic, glass, stone, plastic or ceramic pipes; water pipes; hookahs; carburation tubes and devices and bongs, as defined in the ordinance. 

Councilman Says Bill Targets Specific Business

Pepper said the bill is targeting a specific business owner, Gary Grafeman, the owner of several Retro Active stores in St. Peters, Troy, Florissant and Columbia. Grafeman opened up an office off of Mexico Road, which is not a retail store. Grafeman said at the last council meeting that the ordinance would affect his business. 

Grafeman's colorful van, which has images of hookah's on it, sparked the discussion, Pepper said.  He shared photos with the council of the van.

Pepper said the next thing he knew, the city had an ordinance trying to ban this man from doing business in the City of O’Fallon, because of a specific product. He said the ordinance has no place at this point and it could be taken care of under zoning land use issues or by placing age limit for entering these types of shops.

“In my opinion, this ordinance is a knee-jerk reaction reminiscent of Bible toting thumpers in small towns that want to basically outlaw dancing,” he said.

Bill Won't Impact Grafeman's Business, Mayor Says 

Hennessy said the business owner that Pepper referred to has a business license to store and operate at this location and would not be affected by the ordinance.

“What does this ordinance have anything to do with this gentleman and his place of business?” he asked Pepper.

Hennessy said he’d stand behind the ordinance.

“I can tell you sir, I don’t want to see bongs, I don’t want to see bath salts, or anything sold in the city limits of O’Fallon,” Hennesy said.

Pepper said the way the ordinance is written, it does not address bath salts—but items like pipes and rolling papers.

“They (tobacco paraphernalia) can always be sold in a tobacco store, yet there is no tobacco store in O’Fallon so it’s an effective ban on standard good old-fashioned pipes,” he said.

During the discussion, Ward 5 Councilman Michael Snowden asked City Attorney Kevin O’Keefe why the ordinance was drafted and if it targeted any specific O'Fallon businesses.

“The ordinance doesn’t have to do with any particular business. The ordinance was written in consequent as a follow up to a measure passed by voters, which defined the tobacco products based on issues that they had seen,” he said.

Pepper said the ordinance could affect some local businesses that sell products like pipes and rolling papers in the city, although the products are not a major portion of their business.  

“But are you going to tell someone that they can’t sell something legal?” he asked. “How far does this go in the slippery slope concept, is all I’m asking,”

After the discussion, the new tobacco paraphernalia regulations passed with a 7-2 vote. Voting for the ordinance were, Bill Gardner and Rick Lucas, of Ward 1; Rose Mack, of Ward 2; Jeff Schwentker and Bob Howell of Ward 4 and Mike Pheney and Michael Snowden of Ward 5.

Ward 3 Councilman John Haman, Jr. and Pepper voted no. Ward 3 Councilman Rick Battelle was absent.

Jim Frain April 13, 2012 at 07:36 PM
I attended last night's meeting and I believe that a point that Mr. Pepper made was either ignored or did not concern the city council. Councilman Pepper compared the artwork on the Retro-Active Van which is seldom in the City of O'Fallon and if so is never there after noon with the large two-sided sign permanently displayed on a truck in the Hutchings Farm Strip Center on Highway K that reads...LOOK BETTER NAKED. This truck/sign (with long time expired plates from 2008) has been parked and never moved from the Highway K site for at least one year, probably longer. The City Council needs to add a revision to their Sign Ordinance banning signing on long term parked trucks. Just sayin'
Reverend Scott E. Lee April 24, 2012 at 11:36 AM
So. What the hell are these people thinking? Every gas station in town sells rolling papers -- Sorry, sold rolling papers, it's illegal now. Every liquor store sold rolling papers. Every Walgreen's sold rolling papers and pipes. With a stroke of an idiotic pen, Mayor Hennessy and the push-button Councilmen outlawed legal, legitimate items from the city. We can buy pipe filters and pipe cleaners and pipe tobacco and loose tobacco and cigarette rolling machines, but not the pipes or the papers to use them? Mr Mayor, City Council, if you want to ban the sale of cigarettes in O'Fallon, just submit the ordinance. Don't nibble at the edges of this thing, grow a pair and DO IT.
Reverend Scott E. Lee April 24, 2012 at 11:38 AM
I hate that truck. It sits across Highway K from an elementary school and Fritz's Frozen Custard. How is this truck not a violation of the sign ordinance?
PMS June 07, 2012 at 12:42 AM
Why not make it illegal to sell alcohol in O'Fallon too!

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