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Smoke-Free Bill Supporters Look to “Light Up” a Vote

February 25, 2008

Madison, WI – Supporters of a proposed smoke-free workplace law are trying to "light up" some action in the state legislature, with an Assembly hearing scheduled for this Wednesday. Allison Prange, of the American Cancer Society in Wisconsin, calls the state "the ashtray of the Midwest" compared to its neighbors. Smoke-free laws have been passed in Minnesota, Illinois, and Ohio; another is expected soon in Iowa.

"We want a smoke-free workplace law that protects everybody in Wisconsin from the dangers of secondhand smoke. It will give everybody the same level playing field, and it will protect the health of everybody in Wisconsin."

Prange says she's hearing a sense of urgency from people around the state, about bringing the bill to a vote before the legislative session ends next month.

"People are asking, 'Why can't Wisconsin do this? Why are we falling behind other states, and what's taking so long at the State Capitol?' They'd love to see action this year, and it would be a real shame for the legislature to go away without a vote in both houses on this bill. We're a state that prides itself on protecting the health of the public, and being progressive, and we need to take a step forward on this issue."

Opponents of the bill say it violates the rights of individual business owners to determine their own smoking policies, and could drive some taverns out of business. Prange argues that going smoke-free has benefits for businesses, and would replace Wisconsin's current patchwork of local ordinances.

Rob Ferrett/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - WI