As Wisconsin lawmakers again prepare to grapple with the contentious issue of a statewide smoking ban, Minnesota’s ban has been in place for nearly a year and a half.
Mike McGuire with the Minnesota chapter of the American Cancer Society says that state’s Freedom to Breathe Act has been in place since October of 2007, and about 76% of state residents liked the law when it went into effect. Not that there hasn’t been opposition. “We’ve seen a couple of amendments introduced to try to weaken the law,” says McGuire. “Those amendments haven’t really gone anywhere. There is a small but committed band of opponents who continue to advocate the repeal of the law.”
McGuire says much of the opposition to a statewide ban in Wisconsin has a familiar ring. “Whether it’s a local level ordinance or a statewide ordinance, there’s always the prediction that the sky is going to fall,” he says.
McGuire’s advice to ban proponents in Wisconsin is to keep the focus on the health of workers who are being subjected to second hand smoke. Governor Jim Doyle once again called for a statewide ban, in his state of the state address.