Supporters and opponents of a statewide ban on smoking say the proposal has generated more reaction from Iowans than any other issue that’s recently come before the legislature. Representative Janet Peterson, a Democrat from Des Moines, has tried for eight years to enact a statewide smoking ban and she’s hopeful that is what will clear the 2008 legislature.
"It would be hard to take baby steps on this issue now that we’ve seen that we have an ability to move mountains," Peterson says. "You know it’s the one issue that people in my district everywhere I go whether it’s the grocery store to preschool pick up that people are asking me, you know, ‘Will you take care of this?’"
Senator Bill Dotzler, a Democrat from Waterloo, voted against the statewide ban that recently cleared the Senate and Dotzler says the public’s paying close attention to what’s happening at the statehouse. "I mean you look at the type of e-mails you get. I get a range of people that’re making me the poster child for smokers and I don’t smoke and I don’t like secondhand smoke," Dotzler says. "…Other people are calling me you crazy legislators…It’s a very difficult issue."
Dotzler would vote to allow smoking in bars and taverns which could be declared "under 21" establishments. If smoking were to be allowed in bars, then Dotzler would vote to ban smoking in other public areas. The House and Senate must agree on an identical version of the bill and there’s no indication, yet, of what would be acceptable as the House has voted to continue to allow smoking in the state’s casinos while the Senate has voted to ban it there as well.
Dotzler and Peterson made their comments on the I-P-T-V program "Iowa Press" which airs tonight at 6:30.