Wisconsin’s indoor smoking ban turns two


Thursday marked the second anniversary of Wisconsin’s indoor smoking ban. Advocacy groups say the law’s working well, but could be improved.

Groups like SmokeFree Wisconsin say most people are complying with the two year old state law, which prohibits anyone from lighting up at workplaces, including bars and restaurants. And unlike Illinois, there have not been efforts to overturn it. In order to get Wisconsin’s law enacted, smoke free groups had to compromise: municipalities cannot pass rules more strict than state law. Communities, for instance can’t require a ban at outdoor patios used by the public. SmokeFree Wisconsin director Maureen Busalacchi says businesses can ask patrons not to smoke, “You can voluntarily do it but there’s no mandate. So someday the rest of us would like to eat outside again in the summer and getting rid of that preemption so local communities could make that choice would be great.”

SmokeFree Wisconsin would also like to see tribal areas included in the statewide smoking ban. Some tribes are voluntarily banning smoking in government buildings and health centers, “The disparity of tobacco use in the native community shows we really need to support them in their efforts to go smoke free, while at the same time respecting traditional use of tobacco and not confusing that with commercial tobacco use.”

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Busalacchi believes the statewide smoking ban will improve health; there’s an ongoing study underway.

Any person who attempts to violate the ban is issued a first-time warning and will be subject to a $100-250 fine for each subsequent violation.

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