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Our view: Smoking ban has made Wisconsin healthier

Publication Date: 2012-07-11
  • Author:Editorial

The second anniversary of Wisconsin's workplace smoking ban passed rather quietly last week. But an anniversary is a good time to take the measure of a policy.

The policy, which applies to all state workplaces but is thought of as a ban on smoking in taverns and restaurants, has been a success. There's no "repeal the smoking ban" movement, at least none with a public profile. And for good reason: The ban hasn't been bad for bars and restaurants.

Sales at restaurants and taverns increased 1 percent in 2010 and 2 percent in 2011, according to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review of state tax-collection data. The subcategory of bars and taverns was down about 4 percent, but that fit into a long-term trend that predated the ban.

The sky hasn't fallen. That's good! But has the smoking ban achieved its ends? There were several reasons given for passing it:

- The simplest and most important was to protect the health and safety of people who work in bars and other places where they have no choice but to be exposed to secondhand smoke. In today's economy, when we all know that every job is a precious commodity and even low-wage work is hard to find for many, this argument is even more powerful than it was when the ban was being debated. On this score, the ban is an unqualified success....