16. Coalition: Let Cities Regulate Smoking Central Iowa Tobacco-Free Partnership wants Waukee and other cities to pass the measure to help sway state legislators.
Des Moines Register
September 10, 2007
A coalition of health groups is launching a statewide effort, starting with Waukee, to unite cities behind a measure that would allow local governments to ban smoking in restaurants and other public places.
The Central Iowa Tobacco-Free Partnership sent an e-mail Thursday to the Waukee City Council, seeking its support for a nonbinding resolution intended to help restrict smoking throughout Iowa.
The campaign stops short of requesting a citywide ban, which the Iowa Supreme Court ruled was unconstitutional in 2003. Instead, the coalition - including the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, and American Heart Association - wants Waukee and other cities to pass the symbolic measure asking the Iowa Legislature to give cities more power to regulate smoking.
"While the resolution is nonbinding, it sends a powerful message as leaders of this community," spokeswoman Kari Swenson wrote. "You are collectively voicing your support of having the ability to propose and implement a smoke-free ordinance. Signing the resolution shows our state legislators and governor that this council would like to have local control restored."
Kerry Wise, a spokeswoman for the American Lung Association, said the measure would give her group "some ammunition to take with us when we go to visit state legislators" once they convene in January.
Anti-smoking advocates suffered a setback with the 2003 court decision, preventing local governments from enacting smoking rules stricter than state law. The ruling invalidated local smoking bans in Ames and Iowa City, drawing cheers from some restaurant and bar owners who feared they would lose business.
The American Lung Association hopes to persuade Iowa lawmakers to either tweak the law, allowing cities and counties to decide for themselves, or approve a statewide smoking ban, Wise said. Right now, she said, the group is focusing its efforts on central Iowa.
Allowing cities to set smoking policies could create confusion if cities with easy-to-miss borders - like Waukee, Clive and West Des Moines - enact different policies.
Still, Waukee City Council member Donald Bailey Jr. said he expected the nonbinding resolution to pass without controversy.
"There's health problems associated with smoking, we all know that," he said. "I just can't imagine that the council wouldn't approve it."