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News Summary

Smoking ban on fast track, after morning hearing

Publication Date: 2009-05-05
  • Author:Stacy Forster
  • Publication:Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Smoking in workplaces presents a public health hazard that Wisconsin could eliminate with a statewide smoking ban, smoking ban supporters said at a public hearing Tuesday.

But opponents argued such a ban could be devastating for a host of businesses in the state, not only taverns and restaurants but also bowling alleys, jukebox vendors, and tobacco and cigar shops with smoking lounges.

About 50 people turned out for the state Senate's Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief and Revenue Committee hearing, which was publicized barely 24 hours before it started.

The proposed ban would cover smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. It's now on a fast track in the Legislature, which is expected to act on it next week. Gov. Jim Doyle included it in his state budget proposal, but lawmakers felt the measure should be debated and passed separately.

"All workers will be protected from the effects of second-hand smoke and all businesses will be regulated equally," said Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison), who is sponsoring the bill with Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Al Ott (R-Forest Junction).