CEDAR RAPIDS - Business owners say the statewide ban on smoking inside is creating a mess outside.
They say the number of cigarette butts tossed on the ground outside of their doors has increased dramatically since the smoking ban went into effect on July 1.
The ban was approved last spring and opponents are still voicing their displeasure, including their argument that smoking should be allowed on outside patios. Businesses that don't prepare food can allow that, but many bars serve at least some food, forcing smokers to go outdoors to light up.
Kacy Smith, the owner of Tic Toc restaurant and bar in Cedar Rapids, says the number of cigarette butts that miss the ashtray outside her business has risen from about 20 per night to about 120 per night.
"It's a pretty amazing amount," Smith said.
Leah Cohen, owner of Bo James, a restaurant and bar in Iowa City, said she also has noticed an increase in the number of discarded cigarette butts outside her door.
"There's no question that are" more," she said.
Dirk Rozeboom, owner of Whiskey River in Ames, said there are a "ton more" cigarette butts outside his business. He put a whiskey barrel filled with sand for an ashtray. He said that has helped a bit but he still sees problems outside neighboring businesses.
"Across the street ... there's a few more bars and ... it's a mess over there," he said.
Mary Lawyer, president of the Des Moines' Downtown Community Alliance, said her group has added 20 receptacles in the downtown area since the ban went into effect.
"Since this ban, it's just been the extension of what we worked on before, and we are seeing more activity now in front of the restaurants and bars," she said.