The Iowa Supreme Court will decide the future of Iowa’s first citywide no-smoking ordinance. It went into effect in Ames in August of last year, and George Belitsos with the Ames Tobacco-Free Coalition says the high court will hear from eight businesses that say banning second-hand smoke hurt their business.Belitsos says they claimed they were losing business at the eight places, out of 100 affected by the ordinance, which applies to hotel, bars, bowling alleys and diners. Actually, loss of business was the original claim, but Belitsos says that had to be taken out of the complaint. He says the Ames city attorney asked that businesses provide sales-tax receipts before and after the ordinance to prove they lost money, and he says they’ve refused to provide the info. He says studies show restaurants haven’t lost money in other towns after they went smoke-free. So the legal challenge going to the high court will be over the town’s right to regulate smoking in private businesses. Belitsos says the business owners who’ve already lost a request to have a district judge halt the ordinance, are getting help from a big tobacco company.He says their effort is funded by Phillip Morris, their attorney represents the Ames businesses and the firm’s paying all costs. While it could take two years for the Iowa Supreme Court to rule, more than half-a-dozen more towns are writing no-smoking ordinances. Those towns, as listed by Belitsos, are Grinnell, Coralville, Fort Dodge, Waterloo, Decorah, Cedar Rapids and Boone.
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