It looks as if a statewide smoking ban may be a go this year — but the devil is in the details. Smoking foes are increasingly confident a statewide ban will soon become law in Wisconsin, but they shouldn't be taking any bets. That from Dane County Tavern League President Barb Mercer. "Just because Minnesota did or Illinois did is" is no reason for Wisconsin to follow suit, says Mercer, who also claims those states are "looking at repealing some of those action." Not only that, but Mercer says "it isn't anyone's business, what an adult person does."
Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan has said he favors some sort of transition to a statewide ban. Maureen Busalacchi is with SmokeFree Wisconsin. "I think the devil's always in the details," she says. "We talk about a transition time as well. And someone else may say it, when they mean years and we're talking months."
Sheridan says there's "tremendous momentum" for a statewide smoking ban, but Mercer says more than forty bars have gone out of business in the Madison area due to local smoking bans over the past three and a half years. "I'm obviously concerned that it's going to pass," said Mercer. "It's inevitable almost, because the tide is turning towards that. They just need to realize the effect that's going to have on small businesses." Mercer says more than 40 bars have closed in Dane County, where Madison and other municipalities have enacted smoke free ordinances, and 25 more have closed in Appleton, which has also banned smoking in all indoor public places.