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Study: Smoking ban beneficial

BY MICHELLE HILLENBRAND | JANUARY 19, 2010 7:30 AM

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A little more than a year and a half after Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act took effect, one UI professor is aiming to verify that a smoke free environment will continue to benefit the local community.

A recent study from the UI and the Iowa Department of Public Health shows a 24 percent decrease in Iowa hospital admissions for coronary heart disease and a decrease in admissions for heart attacks and strokes since the state restricted smoking.

Christopher Squier, a UI professor in the oral pathology, radiology, and medicine department and the main author of the study, said he forsees a healthier future.

He thinks Iowa hospitals will continue to see fewer patients with smoke-related heart problems, he said. Because the ban is relatively new and smoking or exposure to smoke often takes 20 years to cause cancer, there may be other long-term effects of the ban, he said.

And to keep Iowa City smokefree, some local hospitals offer support for smokers to butt out their tobacco sticks.

Mercy Hospital’s program Smoke Stoppers provides support one-on-one with patients, said Mercy Hospital employee Denice Connell.

The UI Hospitals and Clinics also offer smoking-cessation programs that focus on behavior modifications and supply prescriptions as needed.

An October 2008 smoking ban passed by the Iowa City City Council covers the Pestrian Mall from Linn Street to the fountain near the Sheraton, 210 S. Dubuque St. The local ban came several months after the state’s, which banned smoking in most public places, including restaurants and bars.

Councilors will discuss further smoking restrictions later this year, Councilor Regenia Bailey said.

Nationally, Iowa’s smoking ban joins 33 other states with some sort of smoke free law, says the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation.

Because Iowa City bars and restaurants are smoke free, some UI students said they’re finding downtown a more pleasant place to spend time.

UI sophomore Glynis Gallagher, who suffers from asthma, said she’s happy with the ban.

“I would definitely not be able to go places as often without the smoking ban. I’ve had to leave restaurants before because I just can’t breathe,” she said. “The smell stays on your clothes, your hair — you reek of it; it’s disgusting.”

UI sophomore Erin Moreau, a former employee of Et Cetera, 118 S. Dubuque St., said she appreciates the smoking regulations.

“It is not like someone else’s smoking doesn’t affect you,” she said; when someone is smoking nearby, “the smoke is everywhere.”


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