Monday, April 30, 2007

Smoke-free's the way to be

I got this from, I thought it was extremely noteworthy.

With increasing anti-smoking sentiment in Ames, impending Iowa legislation may give the Ames City Council a more effective way to ban smoking in public places.
Although the form the law will take remains in question, legislation is being passed through the Iowa Senate and House of Representatives that would raise the tobacco tax by another dollar and ban smoking in bars, restaurants and other public places.
"I think the net effect we will see is that we are just able to enforce the ordinances we already made," said Councilman Matthew Goodman, owner of Smiles & Gyros and co-owner of The Flying Burrito.
The Senate approved raising the tax by $1 and creating a statewide ban on public smoking, but the House is debating leaving the option up to each individual town. A Senate committee also endorsed a plan to allow harsher restrictions to be dictated by each city than the laws passed by state legislators.
Much of the controversy surrounding the smoking ban in Ames revolves around the loss of revenue for restaurants that no longer support smoking. Many business owners opposed the ordinance enacted in August 2001 that prevented smoking indoors from 6 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., with the argument that they would lose customers and profits.
Goodman said there was no empirical evidence to show that restaurants had lost any revenue since the ban.
"From everything I've seen, we really haven't lost any customers or profit," he said. "Although a lot of people were against the city enacting laws that restricted some of their smoking, they've adapted to the change. They can still smoke outdoors and then go inside the building."
Mayor Ann Campbell echoed Goodman's sentiments, noting that even when the ordinance was first declared unconstitutional by the Iowa Supreme Court, many restaurants did not revert.
"In terms of outcry, when any change that is significant is made, we always have some controversy from people who do not want the change," Campbell said. "When the law was first struck down by the courts, however, I noticed many of the restaurants that had been complaining about possibly losing business didn't go back to allowing any smoking."
The council unanimously approved the smoking bans and will continue to support the legislation.
If approved, the new legislation would not affect the recently enacted 25 ft. nonsmoking radius around all university buildings.
Unfortunately for smokers, Iowa State may follow the University of Iowa in the complete banning of smoking on campus. The new state laws will give more freedom to the university to ban all smoking on campus.
ISU President Gregory Geoffroy said he hoped to pass a rule banning all smoking on campus which would be in place by 2009.

I am extremely envious of a smoke-free campus. As one of my famous groups on facebook says, "having a smoking section in a restaurant (in this case, a public place) is like having a peeing section in a pool".

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