Anti-smoking forces in Iowa are hoping a new U.S. Surgeon General’s report on the dangers of second-hand smoke bolsters their efforts to get anti-smoking initiatives made law around the state.
Cathy Calloway of the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance says it’s time to change state law so Iowa cities can pass anti-smoking ordinances. “The Surgeon General’s report is very clear: second-hand smoke is hazardous and we need laws to protect people and protect their health and everyone’s right to breathe clean air,” Calloway says.
Current Iowa law forbids cities from enacting anti-smoking ordinances which are tougher than state law, and attempts by cities like Ames and Iowa City to forbid smoking in bars and restaurants were successfully challenged in court.
According to Calloway, over two-thousand communities in the U-S have local smoke-free ordinances. Calloway says Iowa anti-smoking advocates “call on the Iowa legislature to clarify Iowa’s current Clean Indoor Air Law and return local control to Iowa communities and allow them to pass local ordinances to protect the rights of everyone…to breathe smoke-free air.”
Mark Murphy owns Splash, a Des Moines restaurant and bar that went smoke-free on April 3rd. Murphy says he hasn’t seen a drop in business and he believes once word-of-mouth spreads, he’ll get more customers who prefer a smoke-free environment.
“It’s been a great thing for us and I hope that this is a trend of the future,” Murphy says.
Former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, the current president of Des Moines University, says his institution along with a number of Iowa hospitals will become “smoke-free” campuses on July 1st. “The decision to be tobacco-free was right for us. As medical providers and educators, we are committed to providing a safe environment for our patients, visitors, employees and students,” Branstad says. “We want to set a good example.”
Iowa Department of Public Health director Mary Mincer-Hansen says the newly-released Surgeon General’s report finds second-hand smoke puts non-smokers at great health risk. “There is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke,” Mincer-Hansen says. “We also know that 88 percent of Iowans agree that people should be protected from second-hand smoke.” The Surgeon General’s report found children exposed to second-hand smoke are at greater risk for Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, ear infections and ever-increasing asthma.