Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wisconsin Statewide Smoking Ban Snuffed Out in Legislature

WISCONSIN - Hopes for a statewide smoking ban are once again on hold. The Assembly ended its session Wednesday without giving the bill a vote, which means the debate is likely over until 2009.

Appleton's working smoking ban won't be going statewide after lawmakers failed to cast a vote on an issue that's been divisive, especially among bar and restaurant owners.

"I'm disappointed. I think for everybody across the street, on a fairness question, it would be nice to see it on a level playing field," Mark Dougherty of Mark's East Side Restaurant said.

Dougherty supports a statewide ban. He says the local smoking ban has brought in more business to his restaurant.

Still, others say if a tavern doesn't sell food the losses are there.

"I don't think just because I'm hurting my neighbor in another community needs to be hurting also. There has to be some sort of compromise," Brian Striegel of Camelot Bar said

The Wisconsin Tavern League fought for a phase-in period of up to three years for bars. Others felt there should be exemptions for ventilation systems or rooms open only to smokers.

Still, one lawmaker isn't giving up. Representative Steve Wieckert plans to bring back the smoking ban bill next January.

"The bill has to start from ground zero, so to speak, next year," Wieckert said. "It has to be introduced, but we can say it has the support of both committees previous session."

With bans already in Minnesota and Illinois, it's an issue eventually state lawmakers will have to vote on.

"They're just standing in the way of progress here. I think they should take it on instead of putting it off. Wisconsin should lead it a little more," Dougherty expressed.

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1 comment:

Unknown said...

Smoking bans are the real threat

The bandwagon of local smoking bans now steamrolling across the nation -
from sea to sea- has nothing to do with protecting people from the supposed
threat of "second-hand" smoke.

Indeed, the bans themselves are symptoms of a far more grievous threat; a
cancer that has been spreading for decades and has now metastasized
throughout the body politic, spreading even to the tiniest organs of local
government. This cancer is the only real hazard involved - the cancer of
unlimited government power.

The issue is not whether second-hand smoke is a real danger or a phantom
menace, as a study published recently in the British Medical Journal
indicates. The issue is: if it were harmful, what would be the proper
reaction? Should anti-tobacco activists satisfy themselves with educating
people about the potential danger and allowing them to make
their own decisions, or should they seize the power of government and force
people to make the "right" decision?

Supporters of local tobacco bans have made their choice. Rather than
attempting to protect people from an unwanted intrusion on their health, the
tobacco bans are the unwanted intrusion.

Loudly billed as measures that only affect "public places," they have
actually targeted private places: restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, and
offices - places whose owners are free to set anti-smoking rules or whose
customers are free to go elsewhere if they don't like the smoke. Some local
bans even harass smokers in places where their effect on others is obviously
negligible, such as outdoor public parks.

The decision to smoke, or to avoid "second-hand" smoke, is a question to be
answered by each individual based on his own values and his own assessment
of the risks. This is the same kind of decision free people make regarding
every aspect of their lives: how much to spend or invest, whom to befriend
or sleep with, whether to go to college or get a job, whether to get married
or divorced, and so on.

All of these decisions involve risks; some have demonstrably harmful
consequences; most are controversial and invite disapproval from the
neighbours. But the individual must be free to make these decisions. He must
be free, because his life belongs to him, not to his neighbours, and only
own judgment can guide him through it.

Yet when it comes to smoking, this freedom is under attack. Cigarette
smokers are a numerical minority, practicing a habit considered annoying and
unpleasant to the majority. So the majority has simply commandeered the
power of government and used it to dictate their behaviour.

That is why these bans are far more threatening than the prospect of
inhaling a few stray whiffs of tobacco while waiting for a table at your
favourite restaurant. The anti-tobacco crusaders point in exaggerated alarm
at those wisps of smoke while they unleash the systematic and unlimited
intrusion of government into our lives.

We do not elect officials to control and manipulate our behaviour.