Sunday, March 02, 2008

Veterans Likely To Get Break From Smoke Ban

Key Democrats in Des Moines tell Iowa Independent that veterans homes are likely to get an exemption from a statewide smoking ban.

One state senator tells Iowa Independent that he was ready to bring up the veterans issue but was told by leadership that the matter would be handled in conference. A veterans administrator literally begged one legislator on the matter, saying that for many residents, veterans of our nation's wars, smoking cigarettes represents one of the remaining "pleasures" they have in a challenging life.

What remains to be seen is how casinos and bars will fare in negotiatons between the House and Senate versions of bans. Bars weren't exempted in either ones but owners have been giving legislators and the media a mouthful about the ramifications of a ban. Their chief argument has resonance. In places like New York City or California where bans have been in place for years, new customers flowed into the smoke-free bars. But in the sparsely populated and aging towns of much of rural Iowa, there isn't a non-smoking, effete professional demographic around to slide in and replace the hardened blue collar smokers.

Some bar owners have in rural western Iowa towns have estimated the percentage of smokers in their businesses to be from 65 percent to 90 percent.

One of the staunchest defenders of these small business owners in western Iowa is the progressive editor of The Storm Lake Times published a blistering column on the smoking debate this week.

Here is Cullen:

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