Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Smoking ban faces strong likelihood of passing

Patrons who enjoy smoking cigarettes at bars may be forced to stand outside to feed the habit, as a proposal to ban smoking in Madison taverns moves forward.

A group of state and city officials met Monday at Dotty Dumplings Dowry, a smoke-free establishment, to exchange thoughts on what can be done to combat the health hazard of second-hand smoke. City alders proposed a plan to ban all smoking in public establishments, including bars and restaurants, after January 2005.

The proposal was prompted by a group of students, who, after learning about the health hazards of second-hand smoke in a pollution class, decided to take action to abolish smoking in Madison bars.


“It is possible, and we can make it happen if we empower students,” said Gayathri Vijayakumar, a leader of Students for Smoke-Free Madison.

According to Ald. Steve Holtzman, the ban has a high likelihood of passing. Holtzman said Madison, a place that is generally seen as a progressive city, needs to do what it can to protect public health.

“This will be the last St. Patrick’s Day in which you can have a cigarette in the country that invented pubs,” Holtzman said, referring to the smoking ban passed in Ireland last week.

State Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, agreed.

“Society should do what it can to maintain public places,” Risser said. “Smoking is probably the single most preventable health hazard in society.”

However, Risser said the state is not doing enough to combat this health hazard.

The state has used only $10 million out of the $25 million it was awarded in tobacco settlement money intended to treat the health effects of older smokers and to educate youth about the dangers of smoking.

The health hazards of second-hand smoke can be fatal, according to Jill Ness, director of grassroots development at Smoke Free Wisconsin.

Ness said there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke. “It is a very real hazard, even in small amounts,” she said. Ness said each community that has passed a smoking ban has not been harmed economically.

However, some bar and tavern owners fear losing business.

“Bars and taverns would definitely lose a lot of business,” said Joe Conway of the Dane County Tavern League.

According to Conway, in a city as small as Madison with a relatively small number of bar-goers compared to New York City, bars and taverns would see a large reduction in customers.

“Most bars have a ventilation system and they try to get the smoke out,” Conway said. “I just think it should be a personal choice.”

But advocates of the ban think government needs to step in.

“Phillip Morris is even saying we need to have legislation that protects people and provides for clean air in the work place,” Holtzman said.

According to Vijayakumar, one of the main problems with allowing smoking in bars is the health effects on bartenders and waitresses who are exposed to the smoke on a daily basis.

“We should say we are going to protect all workers,” Vijayakumar said.

In addition to bar employees, Vijayakumar noted the effect on students.

“I think a lot of students pick up the habit just by going to bars,” Vijayakumar said. “A ban would prevent them from even starting.”

Students who would like to voice their opinions on the issue should call Mayor Cieslewicz or their district representatives to express their opinions on the smoking ban prior to the council vote March 16.

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