During the first month of the state’s ban on public smoking, public health officials have notified 57 businesses of a possible violation.
Bonnie Mapes, director of the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Tobacco Use and Prevention Bureau, says there have been no surprises.
"We have seen pretty much exactly what we expected to see," Mapes said. "Even with the businesses that are choosing purposefully not to comply, and there are a few of those, none of that has surprised us – because that’s exactly the pattern that has been followed in most other states that have done this." So far, no businesses have been fined.
Iowa has more than 14,000 food service license holders, which includes bars and restaurants covered by the smoking ban. "When you consider we’ve got that many businesses, I think you can make the statement that compliance is really good," Mapes said.
Out of the 57 businesses notified of a possible violation, most are bars and restaurants. This list also includes a campground, a speedway and two casinos. Casino patrons are allowed to smoke on the gaming floor, but not in dining areas. Mapes says two businesses have recently been sent a second notice from the state, which means they’re now subject to an unannounced visit from local law enforcement.
"Until a police officer goes on site, and actually witnesses a violation, there’s no potential for a business to be cited or fined," Mapes said. If authorities witness a smoking violation, the business can be fined 100 dollars. The two locations facing a police visit are Otis Cambell’s Bar and Grill in West Burlington and the West Des Moines Elks Lodge in Windsor Heights.