Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Poll shows push for smoking ban

More than two-thirds of Wisconsin voters are fired up for a
statewide smoking ban, and more people support the change now than last year,
according to a poll released Tuesday.

The survey showed 69 percent would favor a law prohibiting
smoking across the state in “most indoor public places, including all
workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants and bars.” That number
is up 5 percent from last year’s survey.

The proposed law, which drew heavy debate in the state
Legislature this session but never reached resolution, drew consistent support,
averaging 65 percent in favor in most areas of Wisconsin. In the Madison and
South Central Wisconsin region, where local bans like those in Madison and
Fitchburg have already taken effect, support jumped to 85 percent of


“I think it shows that the public is moving on this
issue, and they’re moving in the direction that they want Wisconsin to be smoke
free,” said Maureen Busalacchi, executive director of Smoke Free
Wisconsin. “I think people are experiencing in their travels what it’s
like to be smoke free. … Half the country is covered by smoke free laws

Busalacchi blamed the proposal’s lack of progress in the
Legislature on special interests like the Tavern League, which has staunchly
opposed the ban.

“We firmly believe the votes are in the Legislature,
and if it got to the floor it would go through,” Busalacchi said.
“We’re hoping [the results] will embolden local officials.”

Among the 21 percent of respondents who said they were
current or occasional smokers, 45 percent favored the law and 49 percent
opposed it. Among former smokers, 67 percent were in favor and 32 percent in

“I think they’re finding is that all they really have
to do is step outside. This isn’t a law set up to make their lives difficult,
and I think they’re finding it’s really not that hard,” Busalacchi said of
current smokers. “We’ve found that smokers do understand that secondhand
smoke is a moderate to serious health hazard, and they’re trying not to harm
other people.”

The poll also revealed that preferences on the ban generally
don’t vary between Democrats and Republicans, but there is a gender split: 79
percent of women favor the smoking ban compared to 58 percent of men.

The poll was sponsored by a variety of organizations pushing
for the ban but conducted by one self-proclaimed left-leaning poll agency and
one self-proclaimed right-leaning poll agency.

These new numbers from the pro-smoking ban camp come less
than a week after the Tavern League lauded the results of another study that
showed fatal accidents involving alcohol increased in ban areas and along their
borders after smoking bans are enacted.

Pete Madland, executive director of the Tavern League, did
not return requests for comment as of press time Tuesday.

Thirty-four Wisconsin communities have some sort of
ordinance banning smoking, while Madison, Appleton, Shorewood, Shorewood Hills,
Eau Claire and Marshfield have comprehensive workplace smoking bans. A plan is
also in the works in Middleton’s City Council.

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