Ritz-Carlton St. Louis Receives Citation for Violating Smoking Ordinance

After allowing guests to light up at its annual Cigar Club formal party, the Ritz-Carlton St. Louis received a citation for violating a smoking ban.

The fancy hotel has an exemption from the 7-month-old smoking ban in Clayton, Missouri, for 20% of its rooms, including a lounge where the Cigar Club regularly meets.

But Clayton Police Chief Thomas Byrne tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the hotel "couldn't fit the 400 people at the party in the cigar bar" so moved the weekend event to its ballroom.

The hotel's general manager, Patrick Franssen, was handed the ticket.

Byrne says Franssen advised police the hotel's lawyers did not believe the move to the larger facility violated the ordinance, and consider the ballroom to be included in the rooms exempt from the ban.

In addition to smoking cigars, men and women in formal attire at the lavish party watched a boxing match in a ring set up in the hotel's chandeliered ballroom.

Police were tipped off about the incident by Pat Lindsey, the executive director of Tobacco-Free St. Louis, a group of anti-smoking activitists.

Franssen has a Feb. 16 court date to answer the charges. Penalties for the violation could include a fine up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.

A representative from the Ritz-Carlton St. Louis declined to comment on the incident.

Photo, mivanov, flickr

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