The state Legislature is in the process of crafting and debating
a potential statewide smoking ban for indoor workplaces, which is being met
with mixed feelings from local municipalities and Madison residents.
While industry group the Wisconsin Restaurant Association supports
a statewide ban, the measure is opposed by the Tavern League of Wisconsin, a
nonprofit trade organization representing bars and restaurants. According to
the league?s website, most members want to help fight any sort of state ban.
Richard Lyshek, the Tavern League?s Dane County president,
said he despises smoke personally, but the statewide ban would undermine a
person?s individual liberties.
?I am not so arrogant to impose my personal preferences on
others,? Lyshek said. ?It?s an assault on personal property.?
Lyshek called the ban unnecessary because nonsmoking areas
in restaurants already exist.
?In practice, there are no restaurants you go into and have
to worry about smoke,? he said. ?And if there is a large demand for nonsmoking
bars, the bar can set its own rules.?
Currently, a citywide smoking ban exists in Madison.
George Twigg, communications director for Mayor Dave
Cieslewicz, said the mayor would strongly support a statewide smoking ban, as
the citywide ban has been very effective.
?The citywide smoking ban has been good for the health of
people who work in bars and people who go to bars and restaurants,? Twigg said.
The Nitty Gritty in Madison was not as excited about the
citywide smoking ban, as it gave bars and restaurants outside Madison a
competitive advantage, said Eric Suemnicht, manager of the Madison location and
partial owner of the one in Middleton.
?We support a statewide ban because it makes it fair for
everybody,? Suemnicht said. ?I work at two Nitty Grittys running under two
different laws. Smoking is an advantage for us in Middleton.?
Wisconsin residents are quite torn on the possibility of a
statewide smoking ban.
?I don?t think it?s fair. Restaurants should be able to
choose whether they allow smoking or not,? said Brett Sackett, a Madison
resident. ?I think it?s pissing a lot more people off than it?s helping. I
don?t think [Gov.] Jim Doyle should dictate what I can or cannot do.?
Kayla Tyson, a Nogginz employee from Fitchburg, said she
hates reeking of cigarette smoke the next morning after going to bars.
?My hangover is almost worse when I was at a smoking bar the
night before,? she added.
Even Patti McDonald, a nonsmoker from Minnesota, where a
statewide ban is active, is unsure about the legitimacy of any sort of smoking
?I?m torn because it is a legal activity, and businesses
have gone off from no smoking,? McDonald said. ?It?s better that it?s statewide
rather than countywide, so it doesn?t take business away from certain
Nicole Seifert, a student at Edgewood College in Madison and
a Buffalo Wild Wings employee, said she is a smoker but absolutely supports a
statewide smoking ban.
?I am concerned with the health of everyone, especially
people who work in bars because they have to be around smoke all the time,? Seifert