St. Louis Bars and Restaurants Try Clearing the Air

Published October 8, 2008

Many St. Louis bars and restaurants that want to allow smoking but also attract customers concerned about secondhand smoke are installing machines that filter smoke from the air.

Three air filtration companies—Air Quality Engineering, United Air Specialists, and Marth Brothers and Company—all report they have recently installed new air filtration machines targeting tobacco smoke and have upgraded existing systems in St. Louis bars and restaurants.

St. Louis has refrained from imposing a smoking ban in area bars and restaurants.

Air filtration machines clear the air of tobacco smoke haze and odor. According to Scott Marth of Marth Brothers and Company, “We have had bar owners tell us their customers have gotten up to go outside to have a cigarette because they think the bar is non-smoking since the air is so clear.”

Clean air is not just smoke-free air. Air filtration removes other toxins and pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, chemicals, pollen, dust, mold, fungi, and radon decay products, which the Environmental Protection Agency claims causes 21,000 lung cancer deaths per year, seven times more than secondhand smoke is reputed to cause.

Though he promotes his air-cleaning machines primarily as revenue-enhancing tools, Marth said he believes his machines can make smoking bans as a public health issue obsolete in St. Louis.

However, Marth warns, “Bar owners who believe the smoking ban is inevitable and do nothing to clean the air are actually creating a self-fulfilling prophecy that will hurt, if not destroy, their businesses. On the contrary, clean air maximizes the customer base which helps business and at the same time makes the public/employee health arguments moot.”

— Bill Hannegan