Monday, November 26, 2007

Legislature should listen and approve smoking ban!

Thanks to Jeff for his guest post!

Dear Editor: When I read that Russ Decker, Wisconsin's new Senate majority leader, said that he hopes to revive the Healthy Wisconsin health care proposal, it made me scratch my head. In an earlier article, he was reluctant to back a statewide smoking ban.

How can anyone be for any health care plan, but not back a statewide smoking ban for Wisconsin? The two go hand in hand. One of the easiest ways to improve the health of people is to implement a complete smoking ban for indoor work areas, including bars and restaurants.

Last year, researchers at the UW Comprehensive Cancer Center released a study surveying 400 bartenders before and after Madison's smoking ban went into effect. Respiratory symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing were cut by 40 percent.

There are economic benefits to smoking bans as well. According to the Madison Alcohol License Review Committee, in the two years after Madison's ban went into effect, the number of liquor licenses increased from 332 in 2005 to 356 in August 2007.

Yes, there were 13 tavern closures, but according to a statement released by the Dane County Division of Public Health last March, lease issues, retirement of owners and law enforcement violations were also factors. In fact, of the 13 taverns, 10 have reopened under new management with new alcohol licenses.

Even the Wisconsin Restaurant Association supports a statewide smoking ban. This would make a level playing field for the entire state, especially since Minnesota and Illinois have passed smoking bans.

It's time for the state Legislature to listen to the two-thirds of our population that favor a complete smoking ban in Wisconsin and pass Senate Bill 150.

Jeff Larson is a resident of Middleton. His Letter to the Editor was published in the Capital Times on November 19, 2007.


Jeff Larson said...

Unfortunately, the Capitol Times left out one of the most important points of my letter. I pointed out that last year the Middleton city council voted to approve an resolution supporting a state wide smoking ban. I wish the Cap Times would have printed that. I also sent a copy of my letter to the Wisconsin State Journal, but they didn't print it.

Liz @ SmokeFree Wisconsin said...

Thanks again for posting Jeff!
A lot of cities and counties have now passed resolutions in support of SB 150. It seems as though many local bodies of government would rather have the state level the playing field on this issue.

Henry said...

Don't be basing your argument on what Illinois does. Hopefully there will be some states that can take a stand for smokers rights. I'm not even a smoker, almost no one in my family smokes, but I believe these new laws are taking government power too far into private issues. These concerned citizens should talk to restaurant owners to organize a day(s) that are smoke free. If there are as many anti smokers as it seems there are, business owners will want to keep them happy. The government should stop treating the general public and business owners like they are infants with no decision making abilities. If a group gets a business owner to start a smoke free enterprise or change the existing one to a smoke free enterprise, I'm all for it. I just think individual health choices are something the government should in general stay away from.

Liz @ SmokeFree Wisconsin said...

Henry - nonsmokers have rights too, and that often seems to get lost in this debate as people jump to defend smokers' so-called "right to smoke." The problem is smokers' smoke doesn't just affect the smoker - it affects everyone around the smoker too. So it's not an individual choice - it's a behavior that infringes on others' rights. No one should have to breathe in secondhand smoke as a condition of employment - SB 150 creates a healthy, level playing field for all.

shelly said...

Thank you Liz! I agree. Why do I have to go to a resturaunt or a bar/tavern and not even have the CHOICE? I am having the decision made for me by the people in the establishment smoking. It seems that the non smokers get the short end of the stick! I worked in a bar as a bartender and smokers did not even care if I was a non-smoker. They would blow the smoke in my face!! I didnt even have the choice. I had to quit because my health was in jeopordy. I loved my job and I was good at it. The only bad part was the smoking!

Liz @ SmokeFree Wisconsin said...

Thanks for sharing your story Shelly. You're not alone. I'm amazed at the disregard for service workers' health in this debate. I hope you keep speaking up!