Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hi, I'm Annie!

My name is Annie Richards and I have been working here at SmokeFree Wisconsin since the end of October. I am a senior majoring in Communication Arts and Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I have grown to love the Midwest but after graduation I look forward to returning home to smoke-free Washington State. While interning at SmokeFree Wisconsin I have been able to indulge my passion for the community and its health and I look forward to helping readers of our blog do the same.

Hi, I'm Ami!

My name is Ami ElShareif and I have been working here at SmokeFree Wisconsin since the end of October. I originally hail from Elmhurst, IL, but I am currently studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I am a junior studying Political Science and Legal Studies. After graduating next year, I plan on attending law school. I have really enjoyed working here at SFW over the past few months and I am excited to begin contributing to the blog!

Assembly Companion Smoke-free Bill Introduced by Rep. Wieckert

Kudos to Rep. Steve Wieckert. Yesterday he began circulating a companion bill to SB 150 in the Assembly for co-sponsorship. This action is a great way to keep our momentum toward a smoke-free Wisconsin going.

What does this mean for the process? That's good news too. If you look back at the chart Jennie made about how a bill becomes law in Wisconsin, this means we can do Step 8 before Steps 6 and 7 are completed. Rep. Wieckert's companion bill allows both houses of the Legislature to examine the smoke-free workplaces issue simultaneously. (Up until this point we were waiting for one house to completely finish the process before the other house would debate the issue.)

*Warning - For Policy Wonks Only: Want to follow the companion bill through the process? Sign up for WI's Legislative Notification Service here. (Thanks to Connie O. for the tip!) All you have to do is enter an e-mail, password, and select the bills you'd like to follow. You will only get updates on the bills you choose to track. Rep. Wieckert's companion bill is currently still in draft form - you can enter LRB 3791 to track it. Once the bill has been "officially" introduced, it will get a new number called an "AB" number. The Legislative Notification Service will automatically switch its tracking to the AB number when it is assigned.
You can also use the Legislative Notification Service to track SB 150. Even though SB 150 (introduced by Sen. Risser) and Rep. Wieckert's companion bill deal with the same subject, they are technically two separate pieces of proposed legislation.

*Sneak Preview: After Sen. Risser's bill gets through the Senate and Rep. Wieckert's bill gets through the Assembly, any differences between the two bills would have to be reconciled in a joint committee of senators and representatives.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Interesting choice of words...

Scroll down to
01.30.08 | News Conference-Senate Democrats and fast-forward to the 17.5-minute mark.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today marks the launch of the 6-week statewide My Smoke-free Story campaign. This radio and internet campaign features 9 real Wisconsinites talking about their experiences with secondhand smoke. While there are many statistics on the health dangers of secondhand smoke, these stories illustrate its human cost.

Go to to view and listen to the stories and take advantage of the tools the site offers, including:
- Read up on secondhand smoke with their numerous fact sheets(
- Focus your message with the site's customized fact sheet tool (
- Print downloadable restaurant cards available in two varieties: one card thanking restaurants for being smoke-free and another that encourages them to learn more about smoke-free air if they allow smoking (

There's never been a better time to stand up and tell your own story, and you can do it here or by calling the toll-free 866-94-STORY phone number. Make your voice heard and visit the site today!

Monday, January 28, 2008

How a bill becomes law (WI)

Now that we've had a committee vote on SB 150, a lot of folks are asking, "what's the next step?" We're waiting for a floor vote to be scheduled in the Senate. To help us all remember how a bill becomes a law in Wisconsin I've put together this fun graphic to map out the process. We've completed step five and we are waiting on step 6.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Green Bay Town Hall a Huge Success!

Last night the It's Time... to breathe free coalition sponsored a Town Hall meeting at Titletown Brewing Company in Green Bay. Nearly 100 supporters of a smoke-free workplace law for Wisconsin showed up in -11 F weather!

Here are some highlights:

WBAY news coverage (text and video): Click here.
WLUK news coverage (text and video): Click here.
WTAQ news coverage (text): Click here (and scroll down).
Green Bay Press-Gazette news coverage (text - 2/3 of the front page today!): Click here.
UPDATED: Saturday WGBA news coverage (text and video): Click here.

Similar events will be held in Eau Claire and Dane County this Sunday. Visit the It's Time... to breathe free campaign website at for more information. You're invited to bring your family and friends!

Monday, January 21, 2008

1 out of 2 in Green Bay

The Green Bay Press-Gazette gave me hope yesterday morning that we would see 2 Green Bay victories in the same day - words can't describe my sadness that we're not going to the Super Bowl - but yesterday did mark a turning point in Green Bay...

The Green Bay Press-Gazette editorialized in favor of Wisconsin going smoke-free NOW, becoming the 58th editorial statewide in favor of the Breathe Free Wisconsin Act (over the past year). Click on the markers on the map to view all the editorials!

View Larger Map

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More on money...

The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign is paying attention to our campaign for smoke-free air too - check out this post from the Big Money Blog yesterday: Where There's Suds There's Smoke.

Go comment on their blog!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Smoke-free WI makes sense, except for Philip Morris

Thank you to Jack Lohman for this guest post!

This is an absolutely stupid battle, but like all others, follow the money and you'll learn why. Most certainly the tobacco industry money that transfers to our politicians in the form of campaign contributions has a major impact. That's a given.

But now we also have the tobacco industry giving money to tavern associations to fight their battle on the ground. That's called establishing "front groups."

In the states that have gone totally smoke-free their revenues have increased anywhere from zero to 5%, all because the nonsmokers that represent 76% of the population started eating out more. For every smoker that left the nonsmoking community, two nonsmokers came in to replace them. And over 25% of smokers prefer smoke-free dining and many of their nonsmoking friends and family members are choosing the dining atmosphere. Yes, smokers acquiesce, even in taverns.

Even in smoke-free Madison there was such a rise in new tavern applications they had to place a moratorium on new licenses. Taverns!!! In a smoke-free city!!! Why is the Tavern League not jumping with joy?

Are there isolated cases where taverns in a smoke-free community lost business? Probably, but those had painted themselves into a corner by chasing away too many nonsmokers. Every smoker, over time, will chase away five nonsmokers. Sometimes more. The smokers come back but the nonsmokers never do. They are gone forever... went down the street to a smoke-free place... and won't be back.

These operators may be good at food but they are obviously terrible at math.

None of that would happen under a 100% ban with smokers having no other place to go. They'd still patronize their favorite haunt, they'd just step outside when hit by the urge to breathe deadly fumes.

A year after the state of New York eliminated smoking in bars and restaurants, its Department of Labor reported that 10,000 new restaurant jobs had been added. Where in the world do our drinking and eating establishment owners store their calculators?

Why would tavern association leaders fight a ban that would increase business? Perhaps because they are more interested in money from Philip Morris for executive salaries than they are the success of their members, and I suspect Philip Morris could care less as well.

Why would tavern owners tolerate such conflicts of interest with their trade association? I haven't figured that one out yet.

Lohman is a retired business owner from Colgate, WI and publishes He authored "Politicians -- Owned and Operated by Corporate America" and can be reached at

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

We want YOU to weigh in

What do you think of today's amendments and committee vote?

Final vote

The bill, as amended (with later implementation date of Jan. 2010, Big Tobacco-friendly exemptions, hotel/motel change), is voted on.

Carpenter - yes
Coggs - yes
Kreitlow - no
Cowles - yes
Schultz - no

Hotels and motels

Amend. allows for hotels and motels with 3 or fewer rms. to designate 1 as "smoking" - passes unanimously

Big Tobacco amendments

RED FLAG: We're getting the language and looking at this now - the "manufacturer" amendment could potentially allow for tobacco industry-owned bars to allow smoking. More as soon as we know...

Cigar retailer exemption passes unanimously

Tobacco manufacturer exemption passes 3-2
Voting yes: Kreitlow, Schultz, Cowles
Voting no: Carpenter, Coggs

Sen. Kreitlow's amend. fails

Implementation Amendment Vote #1 (introduced by Sen. Kreitlow): 2-3, the implementation for restaurants and bars will not be 2011.
Voting for: Kreitlow, Schultz
Voting against: Carpenter, Coggs, Cowles

Implementation Amendment Vote #2 (introduced by Sen. Carpenter): 3-2, the implementation for bars and restaurants was changed to Jan. 1, 2010.
Voting for: Carpenter, Coggs, Cowles
Voting against: Kreitlow, Schultz

Sen. Kreitlow references CA

Sen. Kreitlow referencing California's law - that was passed when I [the blog post author] was 10 years old!

Sen. Kreitlow now saying he's amenable to sooner implementation than his amendment

Sen. Kreitlow doesn't think there is support outside Madison - must have forgotten about statewide poll with nearly 2/3 voter support

Sen. Kreitlow talking about compromising

Sen. Kreitlow doesn't think the bill can pass as written and amended - proposed amendment would delay implementation for bars AND restaurants to April 2011 - seconded by Sen. Schultz - discussion...

Implementation date verbal amendment

Sen. Carpenter - verbal amend. - implementation date of Jan. 1, 2009 - passes 3-2 with Sen. Kreitlow and Sen. Cowles voting no

1 min. recess to organize a barrage of amendments

There were a number of last-minute amendments handed in - we're in short recess

We're up

It's our turn - Sen. Carpenter mentioned MN, IL, and France have all gone smoke-free since they last discussed in cmte.

Mtg. room packed!

The mtg. room is packed - people are standing in the back - uncontroversial bills are being dealt with first (in case there was any question, our bill is definitely controversial)

Cmte. mtg. begins at 10:00

Tune in to to watch live!

Monday, January 7, 2008

WI tavern owners: differing opinions, a stark contrast

Here's a gem from today's Wausau Daily Herald.

"It's dumb to take a job at a tavern and then complain smoking bothers you," [said Pamela Chahdi, a smoker from Schofield who used to own The Office, which is a bar in Schofield.]

Does that sound right to you?
Reading that quote made me mad, but I'm glad not all Wisconsin tavern owners feel their workers' health is expendable. The Green Bay Press-Gazette posted the following letter to the editor on their website Saturday:

Bar/restaurant owner endorses smoking ban
TWO RIVERS - All employees - no matter where they work in Wisconsin - deserve to work in a clean, smoke-free atmosphere. It's a matter of conscience. It's a matter of good health.

And it will eventually save the people of Wisconsin and the state a ton of money in health-care costs.

As the owner of a bar and restaurant in Two Rivers that has been in our family for 103 years, I strongly support the proposed legislation to ban smoking in all Wisconsin workplaces. We do not want to become the ashtray of the Midwest, since Illinois and Minnesota have recently passed smoking bans. Most smokers today understand the reasoning and will, if somewhat grudgingly, accept the ban. Now is the time. Support the proposed state Senate smoking ban legislation and let's make Wisconsin a truly healthy place to live and work.

James E. Christensen, Kurtz's Pub and Deli

Don't forget tomorrow is the committee vote on SB 150. We'll be live blogging and you can catch the committee meeting online at 10:00 a.m. at

Thursday, January 3, 2008

What to expect next Tuesday

We've been getting a lot of questions at the SmokeFree Wisconsin office about what to expect next Tuesday at the Senate Public Health Committee meeting. Here are some answers!

Q: Can I give testimony at the meeting?
A: No - a public hearing was held May 31, 2007. You can attend the meeting, but there will be no opportunity for additional public comment. If you'd like to let the committee members know you support the bill, you can contact their offices ahead of Tuesday. The members of the Senate Public Health Committee are Sen. Carpenter, Sen. Kreitlow, Sen. Coggs, Sen. Cowles, and Sen. Schultz.

Q: What can I do right now to help SB 150 pass committee and pass the Senate?
A: If your senator sits on the Public Health Committee, make sure you and all your family and friends have contacted him. A phone call can go a long way, and many legislative offices say phone calls are more meaningful than e-mails. If you're nervous about calling your senator's office, call after hours or over the weekend and leave a voicemail (but don't forget to include your name and address)!
If your senator does not sit on the Public Health Committee, write a letter to the editor of your newspaper. Positive media from real people like you will only add to our momentum. Urge the committee and the Senate to act swiftly and send SB 150 to the Assembly so WI can join the ranks of smoke-free states. Most local newspapers have a form on their website where you can submit your letter; others have e-mails where you can send your opinion. Legislators read the opinion sections of newspapers religiously, so your letter will reach the public and your lawmaker.

Q: How can I learn what happens on Tuesday if I'm not at the meeting?
A: SmokeFree Wisconsin will post updates on our blog - the meeting starts at 10:00 a.m. and we're 2nd on the agenda. You might also want to tune into WisconsinEye at - they stream live video of meetings at the capitol. We'll repost that link for you on Tuesday morning.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Vote scheduled on smoke-free bill!

Breaking news!!! SB 150, the Breathe Free Wisconsin Act, will be voted on in committee next Tuesday, Jan. 8. What a way to start out 2008!!!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

IL is smoke-free today!

2008 is ushering in yet another smoke-free law: Illinois.

Congrats you flatlanders. Unfortunately, when you come up here in the summer to vacation in our beautiful northwoods you'll still have to breathe in secondhand smoke. Unless we can get our smoke-free law passed and implemented in 6 months.

Resolution #1 for 2008: Get WI to go smoke-free!!!