The risks facing health-care providers, retail staff and public service employees during the COVID-19 crisis have brought renewed focus on workplace safeguards.
In Iowa, there is a push to add protections for a certain class of hospitality workers. The state’s 2008 law that prohibits smoking in public places includes an exemption for casinos, which still can allow “lighting up” on gaming floors. Some venues, including all the states tribal casinos, have temporarily banned indoor smoking during COVID-19. Health advocates say it’s time for Iowa to institute a permanent ban.
Stacy Frelund, Iowa government relations director for the American Heart Association, said the longstanding concern has more urgency now.
Frelund noted they also want to protect non-smoking patrons at casinos. Her group is in talks with lawmakers to get a bill introduced this session that would amend the law.
In the past, state-licensed casinos have argued against such efforts, saying it would hurt their ability to attract customers, especially those near bordering states that also allow casino smoking.
But Frelund argued if casinos want to stay relevant, they should try to cater to a customer base that could keep their operations thriving in the long run.
The Heart Association is also pushing for passage of a bill that would pave the way for e-cigarettes to be covered by the Smokefree Air Act.