Tavern League lobbyist Scott Stenger said he doubts a bill banning smoking in Wisconsin bars and restaurants will pass this session of the legislature, in large part because ban advocates are unwilling to compromise on a phase in period for the state's taverns. Aaron Doeppers with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids is one of those advocates. "Let's do what's right, let's take that vote, and let's put this law into effect in a reasonable period of time," says Doeppers.
The bill, as amended by a Senate committee earlier this month would give taverns until January 1st, 2010, to ban smoking. And even at this late date in the legislative session, there's no companion bill in the state Assembly. But Doeppers says that shouldn't matter, and a vote should be scheduled in the Senate.
Governor Jim Doyle has warned that, with comprehensive smoking bans in place in Minnesota and Illinois, Wisconsin risks becoming "the ashtray of the Midwest." Doyle will push for the ban during Wednesday night's State-of-the-State address.