Gov. Chet Culver signed a new statewide smoking ban into law this week.
And while we applaud the health benefits of such a law, we can’t help but question the hypocrisy of the new legislation.
It’s admirable that lawmakers are concerned about the health of Iowans. They’ve touted that repeatedly throughout debates on the bill, insisting this law was necessary to protect the state’s citizens from the harmful effects of smoking, second-hand smoke and lung diseases.
Gov. Culver has even repeatedly provided the media with soundbites regarding the health benefits of the statewide smoking ban. This week’s bill signing was no different.
We don’t disagree about the harmful effects of smoking. In fact, we believe a healthier state benefits everyone.
Yet despite being called a “statewide” smoking ban, the new law does have exemptions, most of which make sense. The most prominent exemption on the list, however, is casinos.
That really shouldn’t be a surprise, yet it sticks out among all the other exemptions for places such as private residences, vehicles, hotels and motels (up to 20 percent of their rooms) and others.
It’s pretty obvious why casinos aren’t included in the ban.
The state takes in millions of dollars annually in gambling revenues. Certainly a smoking ban in such facilities would cut into gambling profits and, in turn, decrease state revenues from the casinos.
Kind of hypocritical, don’t you think?
We can’t allow smoking in restaurants and bars because employees there have to put up with second-hand smoke all day, yet employees in casinos apparently don’t matter enough to the legislature and governor.
So this really wasn’t about health after all, was it? It’s about Culver and the legislature blowing smoke.
In actuality, it was about power for the legislature to control the actions of Iowans, not trusting us to make our own choices — right or wrong.
Culver and members of the Iowa Legislature have reaffirmed their commitment to bigger government, moral policing, financial greediness and a general distrust of Iowans’ abilities to think for themselves with this law.
Perhaps it’s time to remind them who is really in charge: Iowans, and we don’t plan on forgetting this one before the next election.