DES MOINES — Hopes for anti-tobacco forces to ban smoking at the gambling floors of state-regulated casino were stalled Tuesday when a Senate subcommittee decided to delay action to gather more information.

Senate Study Bill 1107 seeks to lift the exemption from Iowa’s Clean Indoor Air Act that took effect July 1, 2008.

Dr. Richard Deming, a radiation oncologist who is medical director of the Mercy Cancer Center in Des Moines, told subcommittee members that “Iowa was on the forefront of forward-thinking” when the legislature and former Gov. Chet Culver agreed to ban smoking in most public areas and work places. The exceptions were gambling areas and the Iowa Veterans Home.

Deming said more than 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 heart attack deaths annually are associated with the detrimental effects of second-hand smoke, as well as significant costs related to illnesses and employee absenteeism.

“Iowans who have to work should not have to choose between their health and a pay check,” he said.

Wes Ehrecke, president of the Iowa Gaming Association, which represents 18 commercial casinos licensed by the state to operate in Iowa, said casinos have been very proactive in installing air filtration systems for the benefit of their customers and employees.

He also noted that state-regulated casinos in Iowa would be put at a competitive disadvantage with the three Native American casinos that are not subject to Iowa’s Clean Indoor Air Act.

Ehrecke predicted that lifting the exemption on gaming floors would cause a 20 percent drop in casino revenues, which would have a $60 million to $80 million decline in the $330 million in state taxes the facilities pay annually. He also projected that a smoking ban would lead to 1,500 casino employees with a $40 million yearly payroll losing their jobs. The industry collectively is Iowa’s largest tourism attraction.

Cathy Callaway of the American Cancer Society noted that all of Iowa’s surrounding states except Missouri are 100 percent smoke-free and that 500 state-regulated casinos in 20 states have banned smoking. She said research has indicated the only effective way to remove harmful effects of second-hand smoke is to remove the smoking.

Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, the subcommittee’s leader, supports the measure. She planned to schedule a follow-up meeting after Sen. Bill Anderson, R-Pierson, declined to sign the subcommittee report and Sen. Steve Sodders, D-State Center, said he needed more time to gather additional information. Petersen noted that a similar bill has been introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee and she might try to move that version forward if the prospects for passage were better in that committee.

(26) comments

Family man

Face the facts people, casino owners bought their right to have smoking from crooked politicians. The politicians did not care that the smoking ban might hurt small businesses, but they certainly looked out for casinos.

Family man

I am a smoker, and have enjoyed a smoke on the rare occasions that I go to the boat. I do feel however that if they are going to ban smoking at bars, restaurants and all other businesses the casinos should not be exempt. When they passed the smoking laws and deliberately left the casinos out we could blatantly see who was buttering the politicians bread, casino owners.


To all of you goody goody non-smokers, go over to the other casino across the river. I am SO tired of listening to you complain nonstop. I enjoy smoking. I am sick of everything I enjoy being taken from me.
Isn't it enough many of you crusaded for the non-smoking, and now it's in every bar and restautrant in Iowa and Illinois. You're NEVER happy enough. Why don't you hunt us down in our homes and cars and burn us at the stake too?
Why don't you spend some constructive time and go after the true killers, those that drink and drive drunk around here? They hurt, and they kill people. But oh no, we can't do that, this area is loaded with the drunks! God forbid you tax the booze more, God forbid you crack down on DUI's abusers. You people are against fat people (why I don't know that was brought up on here, LOL I am not fat, in fact very thin, and also slamming the smokers). We the smokers are sick of YOU. Crawl back under your crummy rocks.


You are not going to get cancer or any other number of diseases from sitting next to an overweight person. Her being overweight only affects her health, not yours!


But it affects my health care cost that i have to pay. I am NOT in any way shape or form against any one fat, was just using that as an example. As a black person in America I would never judge someone by their size. Just for the record.


When her fat butt develops diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and hypertension all our premiums go up. I can complain about fatties just as much as they can complain about smokers. I went to eat at the casino and had got seated next to a family of bovines. I had to try to eat while they burped and stuffed their faces, and then went back for fourth helpings. But don't smoke around them, they obviously are health nuts.


if they make it non smoking at any time I simply won't come. Can't understand why people go to bars and don't smoke. Just the other day i was at the casino in Davenport, some lady sits down and complains about my smoke. Mind you she knew smoking was allowed before she even came on the boat. Yes I continued to smoke she upset me so much by waving her hand I then tried to blow it her way. Fact is she could have taken her VERY OVER WEIGHT tail to Illinois. Just like I don't go to Illinois to their Casino. it kills me when I see fat people complain about smoke. Get real, half of you people can't even look down and see your feet with out leaning over and you are complaining about SMOKE! SMOKE! To the fat lady on the boat, be concerned about your butt being able to fit on ONE CHAIR! NOT TWO OF THEM! They come talk to me about my smoking


It is a FACT that second hand smoke is as dangerous if not MORE dangerous than smoking. Why should I, who chooses NOT to smoke, be forced to inhale the smoke from a cigarette or a cigar? A smoker chooses to smoke. A person NEEDS to breathe to live. A smoker has a choice. However, those of us who do not smoke or have a pulmonary disease (and no, I have NEVER smoked), need to breathe air that is not polluted with cigarette smoke. As far as non-smoking areas in the casinos, you have to walk THROUGH the smoking areas to get to the non-smoking areas. And, the stench of cigarette smoke permeates everything (carpets, drapes, clothing etc.).


Countrygirl 2, your argument is simply ridiculous. Smokers do have the right to make that choice to smoke. No one is arguing about that. What our argument with you is that your habit should not be a health hazard to others. True, you pay a cigarette tax. But also true, is that non-smokers help foot the bill because of your illnesses....caused by tobacco. Smoke away....just not around me or my family. And if you think just the sight of someone smoking is what we object to, I challenge you to quit smoking for a month, then let us know how you like the stench of cigarette smoke. Perhaps when you lose a loved one because of second hand cigarette smoke you will feel differently. The odds are in your favor that you will. It could be that grandchild that will grow up with so much 2nd hand smoke in their lungs and will develop cancer. Just think about it. (And by the way, the non-smoking areas in casinos are such a joke.)


sorry really don't understand WHY it is ok to Smoke in the Casino and it is banned in Bars!! I HATE the Somking in the casino's my health is important to me and if you wnat to smoke and kill yourself that is your choice. I hate when some smokers hang there hand out their window of there car and I have to roll my window up so I don't have to smell the smoke. I have so much cancer in my family smokers and non smokers mostly non that have had cancer HMMM could it be from second hand smoke.
I understand where smoker's have rights but it is everyones right to have clean air to breath. That is not a CHOICE


Well, not saying that smoking is a good thing. But, your family members that weren't smokers could have gotten cancer from a number of ways, other than second hand smoke. You can eat too many bar-b-que ribs and get cancer from the charcoal. You can get cancer from other air pollution, such as, factories. You can get cancer from tanning or just the sun. So, you can't stop the sun from shining on others because it gives off radiation. So, why would you want to hinder the joys of others. I like the fact that Jumer's casino has a smoking lounge for those that want to, and an area for those that choose not too. Having your rights taken away by laws being constantly set, reminds me of the right to pray in school, then that was taken away. When something isn't broken, why are so many trying to fix, fix, fix it? I think laws are made out of boredom. Some people have nothing better to do, than to sit around and find out what they can do to make someone else's life hectic.


Real Talk! if you really are affected by someone smoke when they are holding a cig out a car window then you should be at home or at a hospital. Now that's real talk. However I will keep you in mind next time I hang my hand out th car window. Good luck!


To say that non-smokers should enjoy being around smokers is like saying everyone should enjoy being around someone with bad gas. If you can't go someplace and survive without a cigarette, then you should truly evaluate and understand chemical dependency. It's not a non-smokers fault that you cannot control your addiction. Seek help.


Silly, we can go with a cig. When we have to. We work, go to church, attend kids sporting events, wedding, and many more events. I am not talking about someplace where you are there for only a short period of time like a restaurant, but if i go to a bar or casino i should be allowed to smoke. The owner of that business should be able to decide if they want to allow smoking or not. That is what AMERICA is suppose to be about. Like me I don't go to bars or places where I can't smoke. this issue should be left p to all owners or each business. Then the consumer can decide if they want to visit that business.


Lets think about this for a minute. The non-smokers have ALWAYS had a separate room or area away from the smokers. There were fans and other filtration systems so the non smokes did not have to smell or breathe the smoke. But they didnt like SEEING people smoke and they continued to complain. The smokers were then banned entirely from enjoying a cigarette, cigar or pipe in a comfortable environment and were forced outside with no shelter from the rain, snow, wind, extreme heat and glaring sun. Smokers stood under overhangs and canopies. and then after a while the smokers were not allowed to even stand there and were forced to be 15' away from any entrance. So smokers now cannot enjoy themselves at restaurant or a bar without getting heatstroke or freezing. Smokers have rights too and they have the freedom to enjoy smoking as much as the non smokers have a right to enjoy not smoking. Non smokers enjoy the benefits that the smokers provide them with the cigarette tax. Smokers have taken a huge hit in society and have bowed to the non smokers for far too long. Maybe we should make the non smokers eat their meals outside along with their beer and their drinks, and while we're at it, lets include everyone who has a habit that turns up someones nose and make them all go outside and stand 15' away from the entrance. Stop bashing the smokers at every turn and find something else to complain about. EVERYONE pays to live in this country and why do you think that you are any better or more important than anyone else. Your habit cannot possibly be any more pleasant to see than those of a smoker.


My "habit" is breathing. I can't breathe smoke filled air. I enjoy the occasional casino trip, but I can't suspend my breathing habit while there.

Every human being has a birthright to breathe clean air. Nobody was born with a cigarette, cigar or pipe between their lips. If they were then I'd say they have a right to continue to pollute the air, but no smoker was. Smoking is a learned habit and can be unlearned. If you don't want to quit that expensive, smelly & disgusting habit then at least recognize that more and more people don't want/can't be exposed to your second hand smoke. If you have to go outside to smoke, too bad. Quit smoking. It's hard, but it can be done.

You can kwityerbitchin.


Okay i respect what you are saying, then should we charge Fat people more for insurance. see me I think being fat is disgusting and is a habit that can be unlearned as you put it. Last fact, I don't care if you breath smoke filled air or not, I bet money you still die or something, just like me. I pay more in taxes for my products to support all these being being treated for being fat, then you tell me I can't even go out and smoke. 3 boats in the area, there has got to be a way We can share.


Preach on with your bad self


As someone who has severe asthma, I cannot go to the Iowa Casinos. Smokers can go outside to smoke. Smokers have an option. Breathing is not an option for me. The casinos in Colorado are NOT hurting for business. They are as busy as the ones in Iowa which allow smoking. I think it is a shame that I cannot go and enjoy a casino that is right in my hometown. They need to ban smoking in the casinos just as they do in other public places. I am sure that they will find that their revenues will not be affected.


That why you have Illinois. It should be an owners decision as to if smoking is allowed. I respect the fact that you can't breath, but it's a shame I can't go out and enjoy myself also. I don't complain about Illinois being non smoking. We have three boats, thus I know at least one should be smoke free. Last of all just taking a guess but hows your weight, I'm not a doctor but many people claim to have asthma, when in fact they are just out of breath from being so overweight.


I guarantee you that I do have asthma. I have a pulmonary doctor and I have 3 inhalers and I take prednisone on an every other day schedule. I also have a nebulizer. My doctor feels that my sister and I have asthma (it does NOT run in my family) because both of my parents smoked in the home, while we were growing up. My mother even smoked while she was pregnant with us. Of course, that was probably back before there was evidence that smoking affected an unborn child. All of my relatives smoked and, since I was a child, I had no way to get away from them. Now, my sister and I are paying the price. I have been to the casinos where they have the non-smoking areas. The stink from the cigarettes, cigars and pipes permeates everything. They can talk air filtration systems until they are blue in the face but the smell is still there. If I go there, to the non-smoking areas, I usually end up coughing up brown stuff all night and/or I have to go to the doctor because it aggravates my asthma. Like I said, smokers choose to smoke but everyone needs to breathe. You can go out with your friends to a bar and just go outside for a smoke. I can't go to the casino with my friends because I have an asthma attack from the cigarette smoke and/or I end up visiting my pulmonary doctor afterwards. Do you have any idea what it feels like not to be able to breathe? Do you know what it feels like? It feels like someone is sitting on your chest. You cannot take a deep breath. It is not fun. There is no comparison between my not being able to breathe and your not being able to smoke in a bar or a casino or a restaurant.


As someone who has severe asthma, I cannot go to the Iowa Casinos. Smokers can go outside to smoke. Smokers have an option. Breathing is not an option for me. The casinos in Colorado are NOT hurting for business. They are as busy as the ones in Iowa which allow smoking. I think it is a shame that I cannot go and enjoy a casino that is right in my hometown. They need to ban smoking in the casinos just as they do in other public places. I am sure that they will find that their revenues will not be affected.


The Isle owns 4 casinos in Iowa and 3 of them are still boats and they have awful air filtration systems.


Not that I'm a frequent gambler but if I do go, you can be sure I go over to Jumer's in Illinois where there is no smoking, despite the fact that I am just down the road from TWO other casinos here on the Iowa side, less than 5 min from home. And while I don't have any idea on profits for any of the 3 local casinos around here, Jumer's sure never appears to be hurting for business the times I have gone in there.... It's time for the casinos in Iowa ban smoking as well. I never understood their exemption from the law anyway...


Smoking is not "banned" in Jumer's. There is a place for smokers in Jumer's as well.


Since when? I went there once, and had to go all the way outside and smoke. Unless this is something new?

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