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WI Health Advocates: Avoid "Ash Tray Status", Pass A Smoking Ban

January 28, 2009

Milwaukee, WI - With many states bordering Wisconsin enacting smoking bans, some advocates there fear becoming the "ashtray of the Midwest" unless the state takes action.

Wisconsin lawmakers will get another chance to insure that the state doesn't become an "ashtray." Supporters hope a bill that would ban smoking in all public places across the state will be introduced before the end of next month. Similar measures have been snuffed out in the past, but Sue Swan of the American Lung Association of Wisconsin says prospects for passage of the bill, this time, appear to be good.

"What we need is for them to level the playing field so that the rules, the laws, are the same throughout the entire state, so we can protect the public health for everyone."

Many cities and towns in Wisconsin have passed their own smoking bans, but that has created a patchwork of uneven laws. Swan says a statewide ban would provide a uniform approach and extend protection to everyone. Opponents of the measure say smoking is a personal choice issue that the government shouldn't be involved in.

Swan says a number of events are planned to draw attention to the proposed ban and to lung health, including the first annual "stair climb" on Valentine's Day - a vertical ascent of 47 floors to the top of the US Bank Building in downtown Milwaukee.

"It is the first such event for the American Lung Association in Wisconsin. So we are very excited; we've already got more than 225 climbers, and we're growing every day."

Climb Wisconsin's ascent of 47 floors includes 97 flights of stairs with 1,034 steps.

Potential climbers can get more information at www.climbala.com

Glen Gardner, Public News Service - WI