After 5 years, mixed emotions over smoking ban - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

After 5 years, mixed emotions over smoking ban

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Five years ago Monday, public places across Iowa were required to put away ashtrays and ask patrons to put out their cigarettes. Five years ago Monday, public places across Iowa were required to put away ashtrays and ask patrons to put out their cigarettes.
WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Five years ago Monday, public places across Iowa were required to put away ashtrays and ask patrons to put out their cigarettes.

In 2008, Iowa lawmakers passed the Iowa Smokefree Air Act.

It's hard for the owners of Morg's Diner in Waterloo to remember how it used to be.

"We had a lot of people who would just sit here and smoke and drink," said owner Samantha Ludwig.

It was July 1, 2008, when Ludwig put away the ashtrays at her eating establishment. Some customers threatened never to return to the establishment.

It's a decision she was happy with.

"It's been a great thing for us," Ludwig said. "We're busier than ever ... I think, five years later, you're either going out or you're staying home -- but I'm pretty sure, for us, people are going out."

That includes customer Clint Kirkpatrick, a smoker and customer.

"Can't smoke anywhere anymore except outside, which I'm trying to quit anyways," he said.

Kirkpatrick says the smoking ban doesn't keep him away, but he doesn't necessarily agree with the law.

"I don't think it's right," he said. "I can understand a public domain, you know -- police station, courthouse, anywhere that's a general public building -- but a private building that's owned or establishment that's owned by somebody, that should be up to the owner."

The law was passed to protect employees and the general public, though casinos are exempt. That's something both smokers and non-smokers don't understand.

"Just because they have a little more money?" said Kirkpatrick. "Well, why can't the bars pay a little more money then to let you smoke in there if that's the case?"

Jessica Dunker, president of the Iowa Restaurant Association, said 2008 was a really rough year for the industry and she credits a lot of that to the Smokefree Air Act.

She does say though, the restaurant business is on a slow recovery.

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