State officials have released a set of rules to help business owners and other Iowans better understand the statewide smoking ban, which begins July 1. Smokers will be allowed to light up on golf courses, hiking trails, lakes and beaches that are not near public buildings – but smoking will not be permitted on university campuses or the private homes of child care providers, even when children are not in the home.
Bonnie Mapes with the Iowa Department of Public Health says the rules clarify, for example, how much of the public grounds around public buildings should be included in the ban. "It’s the grounds that are connected in some way with that building…with the use of that building," Mapes explained.
The legislature’s administrative rules review committee will take a look at the draft rules during a public meeting next Wednesday (June 11) and a public input period will continue through August 6. State officials could revise the rules even after the July 1 ban takes effect. Mapes believes one "hot button" issue will involve what constitutes a bar.
"What’s a bar and what’s a restaurant? Because the bars can have smoking on their patios and restaurants can’t, so there’s going to be a lot of interest in establishments clarifying whether or not they’re a bar," Mapes said. The rules also attempt to address enforcement of the smoking ban.
"If we get a complaint at the health department, and we will take all the complaints, and we determine it’s a valid complaint – we will then send to the business a ‘notice of violation.’ It is not a legal document," Mapes said.
However, if a business is suspected of a second violation, Mapes says law enforcement will be called to investigate. The draft rules and information about how to send state officials a comment about the smoking ban can be found on the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website .