Anti-tobacco advocates are stepping up their efforts to expand Iowa’s smoking ban to include casinos, but acknowledged Wednesday that they’re running out of time and facing heavy resistance from influential gambling interests.
Cathy Callaway, of the Iowa Tobacco Prevention Coalition, noted that the proposed expansion being considered by lawmakers must win initial approval by next week. When the Legislature approved the ban on indoor smoking in 2008, backers were able to gain the votes they needed only by agreeing to exempt casinos.
“Passing the Smoke-Free Act was not an easy lift and we anticipate this will be difficult as well,” Callaway said during a news conference at the Statehouse. “Casinos have a loud lobbying voice we’ve seen across the country.”
Troy Stremming, governmental affairs director for Ameristar Casino, said casino interests oppose the expansion because businesses should have the right to decide what goes on in their business.
“We’ve been opposed to all smoking bans,” Stremming said. “It’s a business rights issue. We have a right, as long as smoking is legal, to decide what goes on in our business.”