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Other Side Of The Smoking Ban Issue

By Staff | Oct 7, 2008

There are at least two sides to every story.

Several dissenters of Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act met in Emmetsburg recently to garner support in voting legislators responsible for the ban out of office. There are, however, area business owners and residents who report positive effects as a result of the legislation, and some who have seen a negligible impact, good or bad.

The law, which went into effect on July 1, bans smoking in all restaurants and bars, nearly all enclosed places of employment, all public and private school grounds, and most state government-owned or -leased property, including state, county, and city parks. State-licensed casinos are exempt from the ban.

The ban is meant to protect the public from the effects of second hand smoke which, according to State Senator Mike Connolly, kill 440 Iowans and sicken thousands of others each year. In a letter to Iowa newspapers, Sen. Connolly stated that “Iowans spend a billion dollars annually to treat smoking-related illnesses, including $300 million in tax dollars from the state budget.”

Local Viewpoints

Shannon Iverson, co-owner of the Corner Stone Pub in Emmetsburg, noted that the smoking ban has not hurt his establishment. In fact, the law appears to have helped his business.

“Before we even opened our doors, we decided that we wanted to go smoke-free,” said Iverson. “I think we’ve gained people–couples and families–that we would not have seen otherwise, if we had been a smoking establishment.”

Iverson added that before opening the Corner Stone and prior to the smoking ban, he had people approach him with a request to make the new business a non-smoking establishment.

“We haven’t heard any negative comments, even from smokers,” Iverson said.

Jared Madsen, who works as a bartender and waiter at Dublin’s in Emmetsburg, stated that he hasn’t seen much of an impact as a result of the smoking ban.

“I thought our smoking patronage would go down, but it hasn’t,” said Madsen. “The smokers just go outside. There really hasn’t been much of an effect yet, but I believe we will see it in time.”

Out-of-State Experiences

In August, the Iowa Department of Public Health released their regulatory analysis of the Smokefree Air Administrative Rules. The analysis examined five U.S. states and the impacts of statewide smoking bans on restaurant and bar revenue:

• In New York, no negative impact was found on sales in restaurants and bars. Revenue actually increased by 8.7 percent.

• After Florida’s Smokefree Law went into effect, sales in the aforementioned establishments rose by 7.37 percent.

• Delaware saw the number of licenses increase for restaurants, taverns, and taprooms, following their smoking ban.

• In Massachusetts, the law had no negative impact on food service and drinking places.

• The State of Kentucky reported no effect on restaurant/bar workers’ earnings following the ban on smoking. The law was also not related to any closings or openings of establishments that serve alcohol and those that don’t serve alcohol.