Friday, September 28, 2007

I love Wisconsin cheese, but maybe it's time to move to Minnesota.

2 Days until Minnesota goes smoke-free. I never thought I'd be jealous of Minnesota, but here I am. I love the Green Bay Packers and Wisconsin cheese, but I really love smoke-free air, and it's in short supply here in Wisconsin. 22 states have passed smoke-free laws that cover restaurants and bars. I am a proud Wisconsinite who supports local businesses. I want to go out to eat at a neighborhood restaurant in my hometown and have a beer at the bar, but not at the expense of my health.

Things that I can't do in Wisconsin that I can do in Minnesota on Monday:

  • Enjoy a beer at a bar.
  • Go bowling - I'm a bad bowler, but it's fun to try.
  • Watch the Packers kick butt at my favorite sports bar - Brett Favre looks better once the smoke has cleared.
  • Sing karaoke - who wants to sing karaoke at home?
  • Go dancing.
  • See my favorite band in concert.
What will you do in Minnesota when it goes smoke-free on Monday?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What does Freedom to Breathe mean?

4 days until Minnesota goes smoke-free in all indoor public places and workplaces, including restaurants and bars. Minnesota's new smoke-free law is called the Freedom to Breathe Act.

To me, Freedom to Breathe means:

  • Freedom from the over 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke
  • Freedom from the 69 known carcinogens in secondhand smoke
  • Freedom to work and socialize in environments that aren't harmful to my health
What does Freedom to Breathe mean to you? Leave us a comment!

The Freedom to Breathe Implementation Coalition has launched a campaign to help Minnesotans get ready for their new smoke-free law and ensure a smooth transition. To learn more about Minnesota's smoke-free law, visit their website (

Marshfield to vote on smoke-free in April

April 1, 2008 - Marshfield citizens, mark your calendars. Last night the Marshfield Common Council voted to send the decision on a comprehensive smoke-free ordinance to Marshfield voters next spring. If the state acts on SB 150 before the vote, the referendum will be a moot point. According to the Marshfield News-Herald, "Many aldermen said they wished the state would pass legislation regarding smoking indoors." We hear that from a lot of local elected officials. Do you? Most local elected officials realize the public support for smoke-free air is there, but they get intimidated by their local Tavern Leagues.

The referendum will be binding, which means that whatever the voters decide will become law. (For those of you familiar with Appleton's smoke-free ordinance, it was also passed by binding referendum.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Smoke-free Minnesota in One Week!

There's just one week until Minnesota, our neighbor to the west, goes completely smoke-free in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars. As much as I'm looking forward to the Packers crushing the Vikings this coming Sunday and relish when the Badgers win/hold on to Paul Bunyan's infamous axe (which we will defend for the 4th-straight win on Nov. 17), I'm very jealous of Minnesota right now.

Minnesota is taking a big step forward for public health and Wisconsin is being left in the dust. We know, based on health studies conducted in Madison and Appleton, that non-smoking Minnesotan bartenders will be experiencing immediate health benefits from their workplaces going smoke-free. Meanwhile, Wisconsin bartenders will continue to be exposed to the over 4,000 chemicals in secondhand smoke, 69 of which are known to cause cancer.

It's time for Wisconsin to join the national trend and go smoke-free. Starting Oct. 1, Minnesota will have a leg up on Wisconsin for public health. How long will we let them pass us up?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

SB 150 Pulled from Committee Agenda

UPDATE: The committee vote has been rescheduled for Wednesday, October 17!

The Senate Public Health Committee announced this morning that the Breathe Free Wisconsin Act would be removed from their agenda. This means there will not be a vote on the smoke-free air bill today.

Thank you to everyone who contacted committee members. We think your pressure made a difference!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ask the Public Health Committee to Pass Smoke-free Air with NO Exceptions!

I know you've probably already done this, but now is a really critical time to let the Senate Public Health Committee know you support a comprehensive smoke-free law for WI with NO exceptions!
Ask the Senate Public Health Committee to approve SB 150 as soon as possible so that WI can join its neighbors (IL and MN) in going 100% smoke-free!

Click here to e-mail the Senate Public Health Committee - we've even written the letter for you, so there are no excuses!

SB 150 Scheduled in Public Health Committee

SB 150 is on the agenda for this Wednesday's Senate Public Health Committee meeting. It's last on the agenda.

The details:
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 19
Time: 8:45 a.m.
Location: Rm. 330 Southwest of the State Capitol

We'll let you know when we learn more!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Heart attacks drop 17% - why are we dragging our feet on smoke-free air?

Scotland went 100% smoke-free in all workplaces, including restaurants and pubs, last March. A little over a year later, heart attack rates are down 17%.

That's a big drop compared to the 3% annual reduction in Scottish heart attack admissions in the decade before the law went into effect.

Here are some other findings from the study:

  • an 86% reduction in secondhand smoke in bars
  • a 39% reduction in secondhand smoke exposure in 11 year-olds and in adult non-smokers
  • an increase in the proportion of homes with smoking restrictions
  • no evidence of smoking shifting from public places into the home
  • high public support for the legislation, even among smokers, whose support increased once the legislation was in place
You know what kind of news would really warm my heart right now? Hearing that the Legislature is going to get back on track with SB 150. Smoke-free laws save lives - there's no question about it - so what are we waiting for?

Reader Challenge: We would like to do something creative to pump some life back into the Legislature on the smoke-free air issue - something with a heart theme maybe - any ideas? Let us know in the comments section - we'll develop some of your ideas and post them here on our blog for you to download!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Taggers for a $1.25 cigarette tax increase!

I couldn't resist posting on this. Yes, that's graffiti that reads, "$1.25" with the State Capitol in the background. No, I didn't put it there. I promise.

It seems that even graffiti artists see the need for the Legislature to approve a $1.25 increase in the cigarette tax. Why else would someone tag "1.25" so close to legislators' offices? I can't claim to be able to read the rest of the tag, but I'm hoping it means something along the lines of "significant cigarette tax increases save lives and save money."

It's been a while since we've posted on legislative action - mainly because there hasn't been much to speak of (SB 150 is still in committee and the Budget Conference Committee has been arguing about non-tobacco budget items) - but I think it's time we turn the pressure back up. Wisconsin is now the only state with a July 1 fiscal year start that hasn't passed a Budget.

The only positive about the Budget not being passed yet is it gives us all another opportunity to press our lawmakers to include a $1.25 cigarette tax increase (which will result in 84,000 fewer kids becoming smokers) and full funding of $30 million for the WI Tobacco Prevention and Control Program in the Budget. Prevention now means fewer health problems and health costs in the future!