One of the groups that fought for Iowa’s new anti-smoking law is urging nonsmokers to "paint the town" tonight.
"We’re hoping that they’ll go out and they’ll patronize businesses that, you know, provide the smoke-free atmosphere — places that they originally hadn’t been able to go to because they were smoky, we’re hoping that they’ll now take advantage of the smoke-free law and go to those businesses," says Cathy Calloway, president of the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance. "Our goal was to protect people from secondhand smoke, not drive people out of business, so we want to celebrate this momentous law and get people out there."
Calloway and a group of people who pushed for the new anti-smoking law plan to start their evening at the first bar in downtown Des Moines to go smoke-free, then they’ll visit nearby restaurants and bars in the Court Avenue district which will be now be smoke-free because of the law. "We know that the majority of Iowans wanted smoke-free air so we hope that they now will now use their pocketbooks and go to placed that they wouldn’t previously because they were smoke-filled," Calloway says.
"Smokefree Air" advocates in the Iowa City area plan to gather tonight at the Motley Cow Cafe to mark the occasion.
There will be no celebration at the "Two of a Kind" bar in Fort Madison. Bill Duncan, the bar’s, is upset with the two lawmakers who represent him in the state legislature, both of who voted for the smoking ban. "They seem to have no regard whatsoever for the small businessperson and it’s scaring me," Duncan says.
Duncan dismisses Calloway’s contention that a majority of Iowans want the smoking ban. "If they would bother to go out to talk to citizens all over this state and (in) these towns, they’d find out that things aren’t exactly going the way they should be in this state and a lot of people are upset about it. They’re worried about how they’re going to survive, financially," Duncan says, "and then they want to take on something like this and inflict more pain on small business?"
Duncan does not smoke, but he says 90 percent of his bar patrons do — and all nine of his employees are smokers, too. "Who’s going to tell them which one gets laid off first when my business is gone?" Duncan asks. "And believe me, it will be in a very few days if I obey this law because those people are not going to come in here if they can’t smoke."
Duncan says there are "profound" legal questions raised by the smoking ban and that’s why he and other bar owners talked with former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack about suing the state.