Smoking ban would take effect in July 2010
Madison - Wisconsin would be covered by a comprehensive statewide workplaceby , if a deal brokered Wednesday is passed by the next week and signed into law.
All workplaces, including taverns, restaurants and hotels, would be smoke-free under the bill before the Legislature. Legislative leaders, smoking ban advocates and the Tavern League of Wisconsin agreed to the changes to the proposal, which is now on a fast track and is slated for a votein both houses of the Legislature.
Under the proposal:
• Taverns, restaurants, hotels and other businesses would have more than a year to prepare for a ban. Existing cigar bars and tobacco shops would be exempt.
• Individuals caught smoking would face fines ranging between $100 and $250. Business owners would see $100 fines for willful violations, but wouldn't be penalized if they attempt to stop people from smoking.
• Local governments would not be allowed to pass ordinances that are stricter than the state law except on government-owned properties.
• Taverns would be allowed to create smoking areas within a reasonable distance from their doors.
Supporters have said a statewide ban is necessary to eliminate the "patchwork" of local ordinances; 37 Wisconsin communities have smoking bans. Those would remain until the statewide ban goes into effect.
Tavern League of Wisconsin President Rob Swearingen, owner of the Al-Gen Supper Club in Rhinelander, said the implementation delay was important because it would allow tavern owners time to prepare for the change, as well as give the economy time to improve.
"We're hoping they will make that adjustment, get their customers ready, get themselves ready," he said. "I hope there's not going to be any hardship on our people."
If the bill becomes law, Wisconsin would join its neighbors Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois in having statewide smoking bans.
, who included the smoking ban proposal in his budget, said in a statement he was pleased with the agreement.
"I wish the ban would be implemented sooner, but today we are one step closer to a statewide smoking ban that is fair and equitable," Doyle's statement said.
• The Senate's Committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief and Revenue and the Assembly's Committee on Health and Healthcare Reform will take separate votes at to advance the bill to the full Legislature.
• Both houses of the Legislature are expected to vote on the measure Wednesday.
• If it passes both houses, the bill would land on Gov. Jim Doyle's desk.
• The ban would go into effect 90 days after Doyle signs it, except for taverns, which would have untilto comply.