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News Summary

Iowa smoke-free forces renew call for smoking ban at casinos, day after New Orleans' ban

Publication Date: 2015-04-23
  • Author:Rick Smith
  • Publication:The Gazette

A day after the city of New Orleans' new smoking ban that extends to a huge Harrah's New Orleans Casino there took effect, the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance on Thursday called on Iowa to ban smoking in Iowa's 19 licensed casinos.

Cedar Rapids attorney Gary Streit, a member of the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance and the American Cancer Society, on Thursday said the Cancer Society in Louisiana "just did a great job" in getting the New Orleans City Council to pass the smoking ban in bars, restaurants and casinos, even as Harrah’s worked to carve out an exception to the law similar to one that Iowa's casinos have been able to do.

"They hung tough," Streit said of the smoking ban advocates in New Orleans.

As for Iowa, he said the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance's effort to convince the Iowa Legislature to pass a smoke-free casino bill in Iowa is done for the year.

The Alliance, he said, has scheduled meetings this summer to talk "strategy" in preparation for the 2016 legislative session. However, he said the Alliance has to be cautious that anti-ban forces in Iowa don't use a proposal to ban smoking in casinos to eliminate Iowa's Clean Air Act, which bans smoking in bars and restaurants, altogether.

In a statement from the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Alliance on Thursday, Dr. Christopher Squier, the Alliance's board president, said Iowa's casino workers deserve the same protection from secondhand smoke that casino workers in New Orleans now have.

"The fact is there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, whether you're working in the Big Easy or Council Bluffs," Squier said.