A proposal calling for smoking to be banned in all public areas — restaurants and taverns included — is currently being discussed in the Wisconsin Capitol.

The proposed bill has requirements similar to existing statewide bans in Minnesota and Illinois and would only allow individuals over 18 to smoke in personal areas, including homes and cars.

Sara Briganti, a spokesperson for state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, said the bill was proposed to better the health of Wisconsin residents.

"[The bill] supports good public health for residents, and has proved to be very popular," Briganti said.

The bill, Briganti said, has other benefits such as lowering health care costs for the state.

Scott Becher, a spokesperson for state Rep. Steve Wieckert, R-Appleton, said if the bill is passed by the Assembly in October, there would be continued support followed by a vote in the Senate.

Becher called the smoking ban "a good public policy issue," and he added that many states have laws similar to the one proposed in Wisconsin.

"[A ban] is already in the vast majority of the U.S.," Becher said. "In 1984, it was revolutionary for the workplace to be smoke-free. Today, it is very uncommon for smoking to be allowed at work."

Smoking bans have already been introduced in several municipalities in the state, including Madison, which passed the measure in 2005.

"[The ban] is very popular in our district," Briganti said, calling it "a well-liked ordinance."

Becher said Wieckert is a very active person, who is concerned about people's wellness. Wieckert supports the statewide ban, Becher added, because of the success of the smoking ban in Wieckert's hometown of Appleton.

But there is some opposition to a statewide smoking ban, due in part to the concern it would harm businesses throughout Wisconsin.

Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said the legislation could severely harm small businesses.

"It's the government telling

what they can and can't do, which is wrong, even though the goal may be admirable," Suder said.

Bard Woerishofer, manager of The Brew House, a restaurant and bar in Hartland, Wis., said his business could be adversely affected if the smoking ban passed.

"[The ban] affects customers in both ways," Woerishofer said. "We would lose some customers and gain some customers with the ban."

Suder said the vast differences in political and economic climate across the state makes the ban more beneficial in some areas than others.

"What may work for Madison may not work for Northern or North Central Wisconsin," Suder said.

The smoking ban could have a final vote as early as next month.