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COMMENTARY: The Demise of the Smokers’ Entrance
Not one person stood at the usually booming smokers’ entrance.
As employees entered the south entrance of a busy West Des Moines office building on Tuesday, the familiar smell of cigarette smoke was gone.
So were the chatty smokers who usually gathered there daily for breaks and lunch outside the building entrance that was affectionately known by all as “the smokers’ entrance.”
The landscape of the parking lot was transformed on the first day of Iowa’s Smokefree Air Act, which went into effect July 1, 2008 and prohibits smoking in public places, workplaces and some outdoor areas. Instead, workers sat in solitary confinement inside their personal vehicles puffing away. Some sat with the windows cracked. Others, perhaps more defiantly, stood outside their cars. Puffing away alone.
Throughout the busy office building, some employees quizzed each other on where it’s still legal to smoke in Iowa. Some complained about the change to their daily routines.
Most non-smokers who used the entrance seemed to go about their day as usual. I thought of the smokers as I went in and out the entrance that day. The ban didn’t have much effect on me so far because I don’t smoke. The main difference I’ve noticed so far is the missing smell of smoke outside the entrance.
But, I couldn’t help but notice the parking lot, which was dotted with solemn smokers lighting up while sitting alone inside their cars.
It looked odd to me. But then I remembered how odd I thought it was that a building would have a dedicated “smokers’ entrance” to begin with — given all that’s known about the dangers of smoking.