When a customer enters a casino, they risk losing their shirt. But should they have to risk losing their health too?

Exposure to secondhand smoke at places like casinos remains a top preventable cause of rising health care costs, chronic disease, stroke and premature death. Exposure for as little as 30 minutes causes immediate effects on blood and blood vessels that raise the risk of a heart attack. In 2006, the surgeon general reported that there is no known safe level of exposure, and the only known way to fully protect health is to have 100 percent smoke-free indoor air.

Secondhand smoke is more than just an annoyance; it's lethal and kills over 53,000 people each year. The Iowa Legislature has the opportunity to reduce the death and disease caused by secondhand smoke. I encourage our policy makers to support legislation that will give local elected officials the right to pass ordinances that will restrict smoking in casinos. This is the right thing to do. We must do it now.

Kenneth R. Croken and Chris Pekios

Genesis Medical Center