Meet Bill Hannegan, a blast from the past

bill hannegan

Was kind of perusing Tobacco.org the other day and saw an interesting story that there is still a lot of bickering going on about smoking bans in St. Louis. Man, it’s been at least two or three years this has been going on.

I don’t get too worked up over smoking bans anymore because I tend to see it as a dead debate. There’s very few places left where you can smoke in bars or restaurants — mostly the Deep South, and mostly in smaller towns and cities in the South.

Anyway, in St. Louis, the big debate is over whether they should allow exemptions to an existing smoking ban. Missouri is one of the places in the country still fighting smoking bans. The only reason this story even caught my eye is I remember from the old toxic Topix days a Libertarian guy from St. Louis who was vehemently against smoking bans — Bill Hannegan, and I figured, “Oh, I bet ol’ Bill is in the middle of this spat.”

And sure enough, not only is he in the middle of the spat, this newspaper even did a sidebar about Bill. Hah, an article about this guy I remember from Topix five or six years ago, with his photo. So, this is ol’ Bill Hannegan from the Topix days. You still see Bill Hannegan’s name pop up all over the Internet, commenting on stories about smoking bans.

This article calls Bill “perhaps the staunchest defender of smoking rights in the region.” I read that and thought, “Christ, he might be one of the staunchest defender of smoking rights in the whole country, from how often I’ve seen him involved in stories about smoking bans.” It’s nice to see who the person is behind all those hundreds of comments I’ve seen over the years from him.

Bill, as much as I almost never agreed with him, and frankly got offended when he claimed there is no proof secondhand smoke is harmful and he kept comparing smoking bans to Nazism (Sorry, Bill, you cannot with a straight face compare having to go outside to smoke to the murder of 20 million people in the name of ethnic cleansing), usually managed to keep it pretty civil on those boards despite being the target of a lot of personal attacks, unlike this scary-ass Tea Party nut named Conferederate76 or HarleyRider76 (don’t care if I never see that guy again online). You could say Bill is obsessed with smoking bans, but it’s probably kinder to say he is very driven and passionate about it. Like I said, I will probably never agree with him.

(Speaking of Topix, I recommend staying off it. The links are full of malware and the threads downright nasty. There was this epic thread about the smoking ban in Ohio that began way back in November 2006. It got downright vicious, just nasty, threats, etc. It looks like that thread finally petered out in July 2012 after 75,000 comments — most of which came from probably fewer than a couple of dozen commenters.)

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2 Responses to Meet Bill Hannegan, a blast from the past

  1. Bill Hannegan says:

    I happily stumbled across this post. Good to hear from you Pepe! Though we disagreed on smoking bans, I always appreciated the class you brought to the argument! Send me an e-mail when you get a chance please! Best wishes to you!

    • Pepe Lepew says:

      Bill, sorry it took so long to respond. I had to edit your comment a bit to protect your privacy.

      Thank you for responding. Remember the Topix days? Geesh, ugly. I’ve learned from then not to get worked up about people on the Internet.

      You don’t even hear much about smoking bans anymore (which I kind of predicted five years ago). I try to focus more on tobacco education. Kind of a two-edged sward. Tell kids it’s bad for them … they want to do it more.

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