July 4, 2010 - On July 5, Wisconsin will become the 39th state to institute a comprehensive smoking ban law. Signed by Gov. Jim Doyle in May 2009, the Smoke-Free Wisconsin Act prohibits smoking in most public places in Wisconsin, including restaurants, bars, workplaces and any place open to the public or where the public may be invited.
In May of 2009, Governor Jim Doyle today signed legislation to make public places, including restaurants, taverns, and other indoor workplaces, smoke free.
* SB 181, a comprehensive smoking ban, prohibits smoking in all workplaces in Wisconsin after July 5, 2010.
* Cigar bars and specialty tobacco shops are grandfathered in and are not required to abide by the ban, but cigar bars or specialty tobacco shops that open after the bill’s effective date would be required to be smoke free.
* 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.
* Businesses can establish an outdoor smoking area that cannot be regulated by local governments.
* Thirty-seven Wisconsin communities have local smoking bans which will remain in place until the statewide ban takes effect.
Wisconsin Smoking Ban Fast Facts about the Wisconsin Smoking Ban by Carrie Trousil, About.com Guide
Officials have admitted that enforcement responsibility remains unclear. The Wisconsin Department of Justice sent out information to the media on Friday detailing how the ban will be enforced.
The ban does not include private homes, rooms in assisted living facilities where people in them agree to allow smoking, and retail tobacco stores or tobacco bars that existed before June 3, 2009, where only the smoking of cigars and pipes is allowed.
Nearly 8,000 people die every year in Wisconsin because of smoking-related causes, according to a new study called The Burden of Tobacco. The study, released on the eve of the statewide smoking ban, was conducted by the University of Wisconsin Tobacco Surveillance and Evaluation Program, the American Cancer Society, and the Wisconsin Division of Public Health's Tobacco Prevention and Control program.
Milwaukee has one of the highest proportions of smokers, with almost one in four people in the city smoking, compared with about one in five, or 19.6%, for the state as a whole. In nearby Ozaukee County, one in seven people smokes.
"There is still a major problem with tobacco in the state of Wisconsin," said Maureen Busalacchi, executive director of SmokeFree Wisconsin.
The habit is costing the city about $300 million in health care costs, according to the study. People who are ill or die early because of smoking-related diseases cost the city an additional $174 million dollars in lost productivity. To put that in perspective, that's as if every man, woman, and child in the city was paying $500 to offset the costs of smoking every year.
Tom Bachhuber, a doctor at the Sixteenth Street Community Health Center in Milwaukee, sees the effects of smoking every day. He can't wait for the ban to take effect. "A lot of our patients are restaurant workers, and they're dancing," Bachhuber said. "I just see roses here, it's going to be good for everybody."
References: Smoking ban becomes effective July 5 Westby Times, 6/30/2010; Smoking causes 8,000 deaths yearly in Wisconsin, study says Figures released on eve of statewide ban by Tia Ghose of the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, 7/2/2010;
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