Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller wants legislators to change Iowa law to ensure cities can enact the kind of strict no-smoking ordinances that were knocked down today by the Iowa Supreme Court. Businesses in Ames filed a lawsuit challenging the smoking ban in Ames bars and restaurants, and the state Supreme Court ruled in the businesses’ favor. Bill Roach, a spokesman for the Attorney General, says the ruling’s a disappointment.Roach says about 500 Iowans die every year from health problems caused by second-hand smoke, and the he says it’s a tragedy to allow that to continue. Roach says the ruling puts the pressure on the legislature to act to ensure Iowans can breathe clean air. Roach doesn’t expect the issue to come up during the “special” legislative session expected later this month. Roach says the sooner it’s done, the more Iowans can be saved from the dangers of second-hand smoke, but he fully expects the issue to on the legislature’s agenda in 2004.Roach says the experience in Ames and Iowa City — the two cities in Iowa which had sweeping no-smoking ordinances — was positive.Roach says he’s no aware of a single enforcement problem in either community. He says people have been “very grateful to have a clean place where they can eat their food and not be forced in inhale air that is dangerous to their health.” Roach says there appeared to be no loss of business or bar trade because of the ordinances. New York City and Boston have recently enacted smoking bans for bars and restaurants, and Attorney General Miller says that shows there’s “momentum” behind efforts to prevent second-hand smoke from contaminating indoor air. A spokeswoman for the City of Ames says the Ames City Council will probably repeal the anti-smoking ordinance at its next meeting now that it’s been declared null and void by the Iowa Supreme Court Clare Bills, the public relations officer for the City of Ames, says the ruling brings to a halt plans in other cities for similar ordinances. Bills says some Ames restaurants have banned smoking for years.Bills says it’ll now be up to restaurant and bar owners to decide how whether they want to completely ban smoking or allow it. Two years ago, the City of Ames requested a ruling from the Attorney General, who told the city council he thought they had the authority to make the moveBills says it stood up in an Appeals Court, but she says it’s the Supreme Court that matters now.
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