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Commentary: Wisconsin should learn from its neighbors

Publication Date: 10/14/2008
  • Author:Rob Guilbert
  • Publication:Sheboygan Press

Wisconsin could learn something from its neighbor to the west when it comes to a statewide smoke-free law. It's now a year since Minnesota ended all workplace smoking including inside bars and restaurants and Minnesotans are happier and healthier because of it.

According to a new poll released this week, a full 77 percent of Minnesotans from across the state say they support the "Freedom to Breathe" law. What's more, a University of Minnesota study found an 83 percent decrease in nonsmoking bar and restaurant workers' exposure to nicotine and an 85 percent decrease in their exposure to cancer-causing chemicals in secondhand smoke since the law took effect.

Those are some pretty impressive numbers for public health and public policy and it's time Wisconsin lawmakers pay attention.

People in Wisconsin are tired of seeing the smoke-free bill pushed around like a political pawn; their public health is not a game and they're calling for change. They want to elect candidates who not only support protecting all workers' health, but promise to do so within the first 100 days of the session. No more delays. No more gimmicks. Candidates need to put action to their words. Every person in Wisconsin deserves the right to breathe smoke-free air at work.