When the statewide smoking ban takes effect next year, Wisconsin will be the only Midwestern state that doesn't provide an exemption for hotels.
Wisconsin Innkeepers Association President Trisha Pugal says if lawmakers don't act on a legislative proposal that would allow smoking in up to 25-percent of rented rooms in a hotel or other lodging facility, it could hurt businesses across the state. She says communities along Wisconsin's borders would be the hardest hit, since tourists who want a smoking room could just drive across the state line.
Matt Drusch of Brookfield Suites says the current ban could also prompt corporate clients to consider running conventions and other major conferences in other states, where attendees can still have access to smoking rooms.
Having allowed smoking for years, Pugal says many lodging providers will face major costs to make their rooms truly smoke free. She says members have estimated costs of up to $5,000 to replace furniture and carpeting that has been exposed to smoke for years, which will be necessary to eliminate traces of smoke from those rooms.
The bill is being considered by an Assembly committee.