Bar owners and citizens are having their say about the new state rules for enforcing Iowa’s statewide smoking ban which went into effect July 1st. The Iowa Department of Public Health is holding public hearings around the state this week over the Iowa Communications Network.
David James, a bar owner in Clinton, had planned to build a patio on his bar as an outlet for smoking patrons, but the rules drafted by the health department essentially ban smoking on bar patios. "Right now, I have people standing right on a busy sidewalk smoking outside my establishment at all times of the evening which I have absolutely no control over," James said. "They are littering out front. The mess is amidst every morning whereas if I had a patio out back, I could control pretty much more so of what’s going on."
The bill approved by lawmakers this past spring included a loophole which would allow smoking on bar patios, but the Department of Public Health’s rules classify nearly every bar that serves hot food as a restaurant, which means no smoking on those outdoor patios. A few of those who testified at the public hearings spoke out in favor of the rules.
Eileen Fisher of Iowa City represents the anti-smoking coalition known as "CAFE" or "Clean Air for Everyone." "I just came to show my support for the law and the administrative rules. I think everything’s going great and I don’t want to see them changed at all," she says. The Department of Public Health holds more public hearing on the smoking law today and tomorrow.
Wednesday’s public hearings were held in Iowa City, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Clinton, Corydon, Davenport, Keota, Ottumwa, Waterloo, Decorah, Dubuque, Marshalltown and Mason City. Thursday’s public hearings will be held in Des Moines, Ames, Carroll, Guthrie Center, Newton and Pella. Friday’s public hearings will be held in Council Bluffs, Creston, Elk Horn, Osceola, Shenandoah, Woodbine, Sioux City, Cherokee, Denison, Fort Dodge, Orange City, Storm Lake and Rock Rapids.