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News Summary

Assembly votes on bill to counter loophole in statewide smoking ban

Publication Date: 2010-04-25
  • Author:Jonathan Hayden
  • Publication:The Badger Herald

Smokers may not be left out in the cold this winter after the Wisconsin Assembly voted Friday morning to amend the statewide smoking ban and allow certain outdoor smoking facilities.

The amendment also cleaned up the language of the bill, closing a loophole that would have allowed indoor smoking in some places.

Gov. Jim Doyle signed the statewide smoking ban last May, prohibiting smoking in general public areas like workplaces, restaurants and bars.

The ban, which will begin July 5, prohibits indoor smoking in areas with more than two "substantial walls." But the bill's definition of "substantial wall" failed to include walls with no windows. The result was a loophole that would have allowed smoking in rooms with two or more windowless walls...

Executive Director of Smoke Free Wisconsin Maureen Busalacchi said there was some concern that if an establishment had four solid walls you could smoke inside.

The amendment expands the definition of "substantial wall" and clarifies what types of outdoor smoking facilities will be permitted under the ban.

"It defines what...a bar could build as a porch area so in the winter people can go outside and smoke in an enclosed area, not in the bar," Rep. Mary Hubler, D-Rice Lake, said during session.

But critics of the amendment believe the bill needed further consideration to ensure no more loopholes remained.