The details of Madison’s smoking-ban ordinance, which goes into effect July 1, are still being worked out, ranging from the possible creation of a complaint hotline to a campaign to educate the public of the upcoming changes to the bar atmosphere. While debates of the enforcement of the smoking ban continue, Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s Smoking Ordinance Implementation Team discussed a complaint hotline, which would allow callers to report smoking in bars, at a meeting early last week, according to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4. “Some of the bar owners … thought that the complaint hotline could be abused,” Verveer said. “Folks could leave anonymous complaints and public-health people would go into places more often.” Bar and restaurant owners, such as Dave Wiganowsky of Wiggie’s on the east side, pointed to potential problems with a complaint hotline, such as the chance for neighboring bars to “rat on their competition,” Verveer said. The committee reviewed materials the city of Boston had used in the past to “light-heartedly” promote the implementation of a smoking ban at a meeting early last week, which included posters and empty matchbooks stating Boston was now “smoke-free.” Tobacco Free Dane County Coalition, Inc. donated $5,000 toward the education campaign, but Ald. Zach Brandon, District 7, said he hopes other organizations will also show support. According to Verveer, many of the organizations that originally showed support for the smoking ban do not have enough money to help with the public-education campaign. Brandon said he is still worried for when students return to Madison for the fall semester. The smoking ban will have been implemented, and students may need to be informed or reminded of the changes. “I just don’t think it makes any sense to do an entire education campaign, and then, literally, a month-and-a-half later, there will be 20-something-thousand undergrads coming back into the city,” Brandon said. “It’s important that everyone understand.” Kami Eshraghi, owner of the Kimia Lounge, said he believes smoking is a personal choice and is saddened the logistics of the smoking ban are getting attention after the ordinance has already been drafted. The new law will also ban chewing tobacco from establishments, and the issue of enforcement of the ordinance has not been resolved yet, according to Brandon. “I think a lot of people are going to be getting a lot of tickets,” Eshraghi said. “I am a little disappointed that people aren’t paying attention until after the fact.” According to Jay Johnson, manager of State Street Brats, the bars in Madison are well aware of the changes July will bring. “The city has given plenty of heads up and … notified everyone that this is the kind of direction that all the bars are moving into,” Johnson said. Brandon said he would be open to amending the ordinance to exclude chewing tobacco from the ordinance if bars supported the idea. Although chewing tobacco does not affect the health of workers in the way second-hand smoke from cigarettes does, owners may not want to allow it for sanitary reasons, Brandon added.
This article was published Mar 29, 2005 at 12:00 am, and last updated Mar 29, 2005 at 12:00 am.