Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Smoking ban garners mixed reactions

Business owners and patrons have met Madison’s smoking ban with mixed reviews in the days since its inception.

Enacted on July 1, the ordinance bans smoking in bars and restaurants. First-time violators face fines of $125 if they do not quit or leave and second-time violators can face a maximum fine of $500.

But a number of bar and restaurant owners in Madison have faced some shortcomings in business following the enactment of the ban and say they worry about the future of their establishments.

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David Wiganowsky, owner of Wiggies Bar, 1901 Aberg Ave, has been an outspoken opponent of the ban from the beginning. Wiganowsky said the ban has cut his business in half on the weekends since July 1 and that he could only speculate on the long-term effects it will have on his business.

“The smoking ban is a disaster,” Wiganowsky said. “We’ll probably be lucky if we’ve got 20 percent of the crowd we normally have.”

Some people who enjoy smoking with their food and drinks would rather drive a few miles outside of Madison to an establishment that allows smoking rather than be forced to walk outside a bar or restaurant in order to smoke. Adam Strehlow, a University of Wisconsin senior who is trying to quit smoking, said he sees where some of those people are coming from.

“When I used to smoke heavily, smoking and drinking always went hand in hand,” Strehlow said. “It’d be a real pain … for me back then if I had to get up and walk outside every time I wanted to have a cigarette. I’d want to drive a couple of miles outside Madison so I could relax and smoke with my drinks too.”

Strehlow added the bars have seemed less crowded since July 1.

He said, though, there is different atmosphere at the bars he frequents and the ban is also helping him quit smoking.

“The bars are a lot more comfortable now,” Strehlow said. “It’s nice to be able to breathe while you’re trying to have a conversation with someone. It’s also nice to be able to come home and not smell like an ashtray.”

While some believe the new atmosphere may attract more non-smoking bar patrons who previously stayed away, Strehlow said this idea does not hold a lot of merit.

“If someone wants to go to a bar, they’re going to go,” he said. “The fact that they may not like the smoke at bars is quite low on their list of reasons why they may not go to one, just beneath they stubbed their toe.”

But restaurant and bar owners are hopeful for an increase in business when the fall semester begins and several thousand student patrons arrive. Yet Wiganowsky said he isn’t holding out for a significant increase in business.

“I’m not going to refinance the bar in hopes that these ‘non-smokers’ will come in and lavish me with ten times the business I’m supposed to have,” Wiganowsky said.

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