Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Students issue proposal to ban smoking in bars

A proposal was introduced Tuesday that would ban smoking in Madison bars, restaurants and other public places. A group of University of Wisconsin students spearheaded the initiative after learning from a class on environmental air-pollution that the majority of air-pollution problems are caused by tobacco smoke.

Five city alders have come forward endorsing the proposal, presenting it on the grounds that the current ordinance is difficult to enforce and creates an uneven playing field for restaurants while endangering public health with secondhand smoke.

As part of the movement, the group has gathered 1,200 signatures for a petition to ban smoking in such places.


“This is really an example of university students having a voice in the city in which they are getting their education,” Ald. Steve Holzman, District 19, said.

However, some students, city officials and business owners are opposed to the proposal. City Council President Mike Verveer said creating a complete smoking ban is too extreme, and the proposed ordinance should be altered.

“As of today, I am not ready to ban smoking in every bar in Madison,” Verveer said.

Business owners are just as uneasy about such a ban, fearing it could bring a possible decrease in sales revenues.

“I know that most restaurant owners and bar owners are against this ordinance,” Steve Kevil, manager of Angelic Brewing Company, said.

Student smokers are also discontent with the possible ban.

“I think it would definitely cut down on the ambience, especially in this weather,” UW student Rafi Samuels-Schwartz said.

Verveer foresees several problems arising from the new initiative, such as if packs of people were forced to stand outside bars to smoke in the frigid Wisconsin winters, causing businesses to hire more staff to regulate the crowds.

However, other cities such as New York and Austin, Texas, have already enacted a smoking ban in all bars and restaurants and have not seen negative effects on businesses.

“When I went to school here, there was smoking in the Rathskellar. Nobody thought you could take smoking out of the Rathskellar, nobody thought you could take smoking out of the movie theaters, out of airplanes. Yet all of those businesses have continued to thrive,” Holzman said.

According to the city alders introducing the new proposal, new smoking regulations are also needed to clear up and better enforce smoking rules.

“We have a lot of confusion as to where smoking is permitted. The exemption for bars in restaurants has been grossly violated,” Holzman said.

Kevil admitted that maintaining a smoking section can be difficult.

“At times, it can be a challenge,” he said. “Now you have to herd them all toward the bar.”

Since no restaurants would have the upper hand by attracting customers who smoke, the ban would additionally aim to create equity for all businesses.

“We will be doing what the industry will be asking us to do in a couple of years,” Holzman said. “We want to create a clear community standard.”

Yet Verveer said that creating a level playing field is an irrational argument, noting that enforcement of stricter health regulations is likely in the near future.

“Only a very small percentage of restaurants are allowed to have smoking, and those restaurants will have to end that practice in January 2005-2006.”

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