Thursday, July 3, 2008

Iowa's Smoking Ban and You

Effective July 1, 2008, Iowa has imposed a ban on smoking that covers both public and private entities.  Under this new law, and the emergency rules to enforce it, smoking is prohibited in the following municipal areas: 

(a) all enclosed areas that the public has access to; 
(b) public transportation, as well as boarding/waiting areas; 
(c) public buildings owned, leased and/or under city control; 
(d) vehicles owned, leased and/or under city control; 
(e) all enclosed places of employment (except casinos); and 
(f) outdoor areas, such as the grounds of a public building or seating area of a stadium.  

In addition to the areas expressly covered, cities are also given the authority to designate other areas as non-smoking.  Essentially, this ban limits people on or around city land to smoking only in the public right of way (i.e., bike trails, cemeteries, fairways of golf courses, streets, common sidewalks, unenclosed areas of parks) or in a private vehicle.

Although the Iowa Department of Public Health ("IDPH") is the agency charged with primary enforcement of the ban, cities are expected: (1) to place “No Smoking” signs in entrances to buildings places and city vehicles; (2) remove all ashtrays from places where smoking is prohibited; as well as (3) inform violators that they are banned from smoking and, if necessary, discontinue service to violator, request the violator leave, and/or notify law enforcement.

Persons who smoke in violation of the ban are subject to a $50 fine; however, cities are subject to fines up to $500 per day for failing to post signs or deal with violators.  In addition, cities can be subject to fines up to $10,000 for retaliating against an employee who reports a violation of the new law.

This measure is a substantial change to existing law and it is likely that when the final administrative rules go into effect, the IDPH will provide additional guidance on the law and its enforcement.

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