The state Legislature is in the process of crafting and debating a potential statewide smoking ban for indoor workplaces, which is being met with mixed feelings from local municipalities and Madison residents.
While industry group the Wisconsin Restaurant Association supports a statewide ban, the measure is opposed by the Tavern League of Wisconsin, a nonprofit trade organization representing bars and restaurants. According to the league�s website, most members want to help fight any sort of state ban.
Richard Lyshek, the Tavern League�s Dane County president, said he despises smoke personally, but the statewide ban would undermine a person�s individual liberties.
�I am not so arrogant to impose my personal preferences on others,� Lyshek said. �It�s an assault on personal property.�
Lyshek called the ban unnecessary because nonsmoking areas in restaurants already exist.
�In practice, there are no restaurants you go into and have to worry about smoke,� he said. �And if there is a large demand for nonsmoking bars, the bar can set its own rules.�
Currently, a citywide smoking ban exists in Madison.
George Twigg, communications director for Mayor Dave Cieslewicz, said the mayor would strongly support a statewide smoking ban, as the citywide ban has been very effective.
�The citywide smoking ban has been good for the health of people who work in bars and people who go to bars and restaurants,� Twigg said.
The Nitty Gritty in Madison was not as excited about the citywide smoking ban, as it gave bars and restaurants outside Madison a competitive advantage, said Eric Suemnicht, manager of the Madison location and partial owner of the one in Middleton.
�We support a statewide ban because it makes it fair for everybody,� Suemnicht said. �I work at two Nitty Grittys running under two different laws. Smoking is an advantage for us in Middleton.�
Wisconsin residents are quite torn on the possibility of a statewide smoking ban.
�I don�t think it�s fair. Restaurants should be able to choose whether they allow smoking or not,� said Brett Sackett, a Madison resident. �I think it�s pissing a lot more people off than it�s helping. I don�t think [Gov.] Jim Doyle should dictate what I can or cannot do.�
Kayla Tyson, a Nogginz employee from Fitchburg, said she hates reeking of cigarette smoke the next morning after going to bars.
�My hangover is almost worse when I was at a smoking bar the night before,� she added.
Even Patti McDonald, a nonsmoker from Minnesota, where a statewide ban is active, is unsure about the legitimacy of any sort of smoking ban.
�I�m torn because it is a legal activity, and businesses have gone off from no smoking,� McDonald said. �It�s better that it�s statewide rather than countywide, so it doesn�t take business away from certain counties.�
Nicole Seifert, a student at Edgewood College in Madison and a Buffalo Wild Wings employee, said she is a smoker but absolutely supports a statewide smoking ban.
�I am concerned with the health of everyone, especially people who work in bars because they have to be around smoke all the time,� Seifert said.