n Iowa, there is a push to add protections for a certain class of hospitality workers brought about by the COVID-19 crisis, which could include a smoking ban on gaming floors.
The state’s 2008 law that prohibits smoking in public places includes an exemption for casinos, which still can allow “lighting up” on gaming floors, but health advocates say it’s time for Iowa to institute a permanent ban, KWSN reports. Some venues, including all the state’s tribal casinos, have temporarily banned indoor smoking during COVID-19.
Stacy Frelund, Iowa government relations director for the American Heart Association, said the longstanding concern has more urgency now.
“We have had casino workers in the past reach out to our coalition about having to be exposed to second-hand smoke,” Frelund observed. “In this time that we’re in right now, it only makes sense to provide health to all of our workers throughout the state.”
Frelund noted they also want to protect non-smoking patrons at casinos. Her group is in talks with lawmakers to get a bill introduced this session that would amend the law.
In the past, state-licensed casinos have argued against such efforts, saying it would hurt their ability to attract customers, especially those near bordering states that also allow casino smoking.
But Frelund argued if casinos want to stay relevant, they should try to cater to a customer base that could keep their operations thriving in the long run.
“A lot of your younger population is accustomed to having smoke-free places,” Frelund pointed out.
The Heart Association is also pushing for passage of a bill that would pave the way for e-cigarettes to be covered by the Smokefree Air Act.