February 14, 2016

Wisconsin smoking ban turns three

File Photo

File Photo: WRN

Supporters of Wisconsin’s statewide smoking ban are celebrating its third birthday.

The law took effect on July 5th of 2010, and Maureen Busalacchi with Health First Wisconsin says the state is better because of it. She says “it’s working well, it’s good for our health, it’s good for business.”

Data from the Wisconsin Restaurant Association and state tax collections show sales at bars and restaurants have actually gone up since the ban was enacted. From 2011 to 2012, business increased by four percent. In the year after the ban took effect, there was a two percent jump.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (:54)

The ban has not been great for all businesses though. Scott Stenger with the Wisconsin Tavern League says the law has hurt many of their members’ locally owned businesses. He says that “the ma and pop tavern, which is unique to Wisconsin, we’re seeing fewer and fewer of them.”

Busalacchi contends many of those businesses were likely already struggling though, and she believes the ban was just one of many factors forcing them to close.

While many Republicans opposed enacting the ban, Busalacchi does not believe GOP control in the state Legislature will result in any efforts to repeal the law. If an attempt were to be launched, she argues that Republicans would be “flying in the face of public opinion,” since their polls show 75 to 80 percent of Wisconsin residents support the ban.

WIBA’s John Colbert contributed to this report.

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