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News Summary

Debate on House bill to ban smoking is delayed

Publication Date: 2008-02-14
  • Author:O.Kay Henderson
  • Publication:Radio Iowa, IA

A bill that was to be debated in the Iowa House later today that would forbid smoking in Iowa businesses has been put on hold until next week for procedural reasons. Opponents of the statewide ban on smoking in public places were ready to highlight one part of the proposal they say is a slap at farmers who smoke.

Representative Lance Horbach , a Republican from Tama, says some farmers who smoke may have to quit smoking in their vehicles. "It will ban smoking from combines, tractors -- in other words farmers if they have an employee or a volunteer assisting them," Horbach says. The bill that cleared the House Commerce Committee last week still would allow smoking in V-F-W Halls and casinos.

Horbach says if folks can smoke in casinos, then farmers should be able to smoke freely in their tractors even if someone else drives it, too. "They're going after any business that has an employee or a volunteer and you cannot smoke in that and there are no exceptions except casinos, which I find very ironic," Horbach says. Backers of the exemption for casinos cite statistics showing casino profits dip when casinos go smoke-free.

"We're worried about people's health -- that one farmer in the combine -- but we're not worried about 1,500 employees at the casino and they'll flat out tell you it's because we can't afford to have 'em drop any of their sales," Horbach says. It's mainly Republicans in the legislature who oppose the smoking ban, arguing business owners should be able to choose for themselves whether to ban smoking in their bars, restaurants, bowling alleys and other places of commerce.