Monday, February 25

Iowa Senate to Take Up Smoking Ban

In what will be a great improvement to those of us who refuse to go to places where smoking clogs our lungs, and a boon for those restaurants and bars that have been hesitant to voluntarily impose one, the Iowa Senate will take up the public smoking ban. I wrote to Senator Joe Bolkcom about the exemptions to the ban to get his take on its chances--and the possibility that the senate would push for a tougher bill.

Gark: I find it curious that casinos, VFW's and some farms are exempt from the smoking ban. I know that Illinois has a smoking ban on its casinos (which I understand has led to the construction of outdoor smoking lounges).

Wouldn't it be easier to pass a universal workplace smoking ban? I imagine the restaurant and bar lobby is not happy and is likely to be less happy if casinos are exempt.

Senator Bolkcom: "I wish we could stop the exemptions. This will be hard. If casinos and VFW's get the exemption and we can pass a statewide ban, the anti-tobacco advocates will be able to focus their attention there next."

"This legislative process is an interesting one. You try to get as much as you can and make the best deal possible."

"I can't believe that we are even talking about a statewide ban. If we get this done it will be one of the most important actions this session."

"We have work to do in the Senate this week to get this done."

Gark: Thanks for doing what you can. I understand that it is difficult to do this, but more interesting is why just these exemptions? Particularly for the gaming industry, an industry that will likely continue to grow and employ many low-income wage earners, it would seem like a question of workplace safety and social justice to stand up for this group of workers.

Senator Bolkcom: "The casino exemption is a big problem. They have the votes to get the exemption at least for now. The logic makes no sense."

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