Who, besides smokers themselves, is most harmed by smoking in public places?
People who work in very smoky rooms in restaurants, bars and casinos. If you work a 40-hour week in one of those places, you might as well be a pack-a-day smoker yourself.
So it's disappointing to see that the Iowa House substantially changed the proposed ban on smoking in most public places, according to the Des Moines Register:
Smoking opponents called the new version of the bill a devastating blow to an earlier proposal that would have prohibited smoking at an estimated 99 percent of Iowa's public places. They said the exemption approved by the House would weaken current law because, in some cases, special nonsmoking sections of restaurants would be unnecessary.
"It's not very much good at all," said Dan Ramsey, director of advocacy for the American Lung Association of Iowa. "It's pretty much useless at this point."
It sets up a showdown with the Iowa Senate, which has approved a widespread smoking ban that would include casinos, as well as nearly all bars and restaurants.
Some laws address problems, and some are intended to give the appearance of addressing a problem. The House version of the smoking ban is clearly the latter. It would do little to help the Iowans who are most at risk of falling ill because of exposure to second-hand smoke.
I sometimes take my kids to the Waveland, a classic old-fashioned diner in Des Moines. Last year I was stunned when the owner made that restaurant smoke-free. He said he had noticed over time that families were less likely to come because they didn't want their kids around the smoke.
I would have thought the Waveland regulars would have rioted over a smoking ban, but the waitresses there told me everything went great with the transition. It's a much more pleasant place to eat now, and the employees are not exposed to second-hand smoke all day long.