The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) is reporting that most of the state’s 82,000 businesses subject to the Smokefree Air Act are complying with the law. Bonnie Mapes is director of the department’s division of tobacco use prevention and control. “We have only about 1% of the employers in the state who have actually (received) notices of a complaint,” Mapes said.
“So, the vast majority of the businesses are in compliance with the law.” IDPH has released the first Iowa Smokefree Air Act Annual Report. It includes data from July 1, 2008 – when the ban on smoking in most public places took effect – through June 30, 2009. Public health officials received more than 3,300 complaints over the year, but only 2,100 were validated. Mapes says around 300 complaints were filed anonymously.
“Most of the time we’re able to talk to the person who submitted the complaint and sometimes we’ll get complaints about things that are not actually violations of the law. They’ll say, ‘people are smoking five feet outside the door,’ and of course that’s not a violation,” Mapes said. “We get more complaints than complaints that are validated.” During the first month of the law, Iowans submitted nearly 600 complaints. Over the next month, there were just 315 complaints.
Mapes says reports of possible violations of the law have continued to dip from month to month. She says that’s the same pattern that other states with similar laws have experienced.