The statewide public smoking ban that goes into effect Tuesday could cost Iowa school districts thousands of dollars. School buildings nationwide have been smoke-free since a 1994 federal mandate and nearly three-quarters of Iowa schools go even further by banning smoking on school grounds, including parking lots and sports venues.
But Mary Gannon, the lead attorney for the Iowa Association of School Boards, says the rules written by the Iowa Department of Public Health require larger, more specific no-smoking signs.
"For example, I was up in Britt at the West Hancock elementary building and they had the tobacco-free signs posted at all of their entrances, on their fences, etcetera, but they don’t comply with the new law," Gannon says. "…We’ve got better things to spend school money on than signs, if we don’t have to."
According to Gannon, the rules written by the public health department also require no-smoking signs in buses. That means signs would have to be posted in more than 6000 Iowa school buses, which have always been smoke-free. The signs cost up to $6 each and Gannon says that’ll add up quickly.
Gannon has asked the Board of Health to waive the no-smoking sign requirement for schools and hopes to have an answer after the board meets Friday.