Gov. Chet Culver is expected to sign into law this week a new statewide smoking ban. State representatives and senators sent the bill to Culver last week.

The proposal proved contentious concerning what places would be declared smoke-free zones.

The majority of elected lawmakers in the state legislature finally compromised, banning smoking in all public restaurants and bars beginning July 1.

While we can agree with that and the health reasons behind it, we take exceptions to the exemptions tacked on to the bill.

You can smoke if you’re gambling at a casino, but if you go to a bar or a restaurant in a casino, you can’t.

How dumb is that?

Hotels and motels could set aside 20 percent of their rooms for smokers. We don’t think that meets the criteria; the smell of smoke goes a long way.

Smoking would be permitted in private and semi-private rooms in long-term care facilities. You’ve got to be kidding. What fun to be ill enough to live in such a facility, and also have to endure the wafting smell of cigarette smoke. Same for the exemption for the Iowa Veterans Home at Marshalltown. What about the veterans who do not smoke?

Seriously, was there that much hue and cry about smoking? We agree that it is bad for the smokers’ health and no doubt those non-smokers forced to be around smokers. But, do all unhealthy activities have to be state-regulated?

As we said earlier this year, a ban on smoking should be decided by our local government — the city council.

It’s not that we’re promoting smoking, because we aren’t. But, the smokers seem to be taking a lot of direct hits lately, from ever escalating costs of the products to banishment in many public facilities and even some private ones.

We still believe that it should be left up to a community to decide this issue. And the idea of letting a business owner decide if his or her establishment should be smoke free still has some merit to some.

See the accompanying graphic telling how our area representatives and state senators voted on the smoking ban bill. You can still let them know how you feel.

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