Smoke-free law in Iowa takes effect today
SIBLEY, Iowa -- Nine months after Minnesota's law to eliminate smoking in public places took effect, its neighbor to the south begins its new law, the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. Starting today, smoking will not be allowed in enclosed public spaces, ...
SIBLEY, Iowa -- Nine months after Minnesota's law to eliminate smoking in public places took effect, its neighbor to the south begins its new law, the Iowa Smokefree Air Act. Starting today, smoking will not be allowed in enclosed public spaces, including restaurants, bars and workplaces throughout Iowa.
Pam Juber, Osceola Community Health Services agency director, spent part of her day Monday visiting businesses throughout Sibley to hand out 'No Smoking' window clings and information about Iowa Quitline, a hotline for smokers interested in kicking the habit.
Overall, Juber said local response to the law has been positive. Already, both pizza establishments, the Mexican restaurant, a local café and an eating area inside a Sibley gas station are smoke-free.
Iowa becomes the 24th state to enact smoke-free legislation.
"We're not the first, but we're certainly far from being the last," Juber said.
Earlier in the day, she read a comment from Iowa Gov. Chet Culver saying his goal is to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.
"It's a big step toward making our residents more healthy," Juber said of the law.
Unlike Minnesota's smoke-free law, Iowa legislators approved several exemptions in its act -- including allowing smoking on gaming floors of casinos, the Iowa Veterans home and in private clubs with no employees.
"I really do have a problem, personally, with some of these exemptions," Juber said. "I think if you're going to have this law, then it needs to be enforced, and it needs to be across the board."
The Iowa law will be enforced, with fines imposed on those who do not comply. Juber said if someone encounters an individual smoking inside an establishment, they should notify the on-site manager. Management can then ask the smoker to snuff out his or her cigarette or cigar. If the smoker doesn't comply, law enforcement should be called. The Iowa Department of Public Health will monitor enforcement.
Juber said it will be nice to go into establishments and not have to breathe in second-hand smoke. More importantly, she said employees won't be subjected to the toxic chemicals while they do their job.
"The employees deserve that," she added.
Osceola County has long been part of a five-county Northwest Iowa Tobacco-Free Coalition, a group that aims to reduce the number of smokers in its corner of the state.
"They do a lot of work in the workplace, the community and the schools on not only prevention but promoting cessation as well," Juber said. The four goals of the multi-county coalition are to prevent tobacco use by youths, promote cessation, eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke and establish and maintain a tobacco control community coalition.
"Some people focus on smoke-free, (but) we try to educate the youth on the dangers of using tobacco -- the chew, that is dangerous as well," Juber said. "There's no second-hand smoke or ill effects on others in a room if you're chewing, but there's still a lot of health implications to the person using, and it's very addictive."