This week at the State Capitol, Legislators, the American Cancer Society, Smoke-Free Wisconsin and the Tavern League announced a compromise on the statewide smoking ban legislation. The deal would include a ban in all public workplaces, including bars and taverns to go into effect July 5, 2010. Exceptions to the ban would be granted to existing cigar bars that receive a majority of their income from tobacco sales and tobacco retailers who derive 75 percent of their income from tobacco sales. The compromise deal does not allow for smoking rooms in hotels or motels. It does provide language to ensure taverns could have outdoor smoking areas.
Like most legislative compromises, this proposal does not give either side of the debate everything they want. The Tavern League wanted an outright exemption for bars; the health care advocates wanted a more immediate effective date.
Children’s has partnered with the American Cancer Society, Smokefree Wisconsin and other health care advocates supporting the statewide smoking ban and we have actively lobbied for its passage. For many years, people from all parts of the System have actively supported this legislation because of its health care impact on kids, including dozens of pediatric residents who have traveled to Madison to lobby their legislators to support it.
The enactment of this legislation is long overdue, and while the deal is not perfect, in our political climate, it is a very good compromise that will bring Wisconsin in line with our neighbor states — Minnesota, Illinois and Iowa — who already have enacted smoke-free legislation. No longer can we be called the ashtray of the Midwest. In fact, we will join twenty-five states and Washington DC which have banned smoking from private-sector work places, restaurants and taverns.
This morning, the Senate Health Committee voted 5-2 (bi-partisan) and Assembly Health Committee voted 11-2 (bi-partisan) in support of the compromise. It is anticipated each house will vote on the bill this coming Wednesday, May 13th.
Take a moment to call or email your State Senator and State Representative and urge them to support the statewide smoking ban (SB 181 and AB 253). You can go to the following Web site and enter your address to link you to your legislator’s contact information and e-mail address: http://www.legis.wisconsin.gov/w3asp/waml/waml.aspx