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Wisconsin goes smoke-free

The 2010 Independence Day Parade to Gordon Park was made more enjoyable and memorable for 9 area children who are staying at Meta House with their mothers while the women receive treatment for alcohol and drug addictions. The children, ages 5 to 10 participated in the parade on July 5th riding new bikes and helmets given to them by Walmart Stores in Milwaukee and Waukesha. Congresswoman Gwen Moore and other local public officials participated as well. (Photo by Robert A. Bell)

State implements law prohibiting all workplace smoking including inside bars and restaurants

People across Wisconsin are breathing easier this week as the state officially marked the start of its smoke-free law on July 5, 2010. The law eliminates smoking inside all Wisconsin workplaces including bars and restaurants as a matter of public health.

“Today is the first day toward a future with less cancer, less heart disease and less serious respiratory illness in Wisconsin,” said Allison Miller, spokesperson with the American Cancer Society in Wisconsin. “It is also the first day that anyone, anywhere in our state can enjoy a burger or a beer at their favorite bar or restaurant and not have to worry about the health effects of secondhand smoke. In other words, today is a day to celebrate!”

Maureen Busalacchi, executive director of Smoke- Free Wisconsin credited the smoke-free law to years of hard work and dedication by volunteers from organizations like SmokeFree Wisconsin, the American Cancer Society, the American Lung Association and the American Heart Association. She said these volunteers as well as countless other Wisconsinites contacted their lawmakers, told their stories and fought to get the smoke out.

“The amount of public support for this law is truly remarkable. People understand secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard and they don’t want anyone, no matter where they work, to have to face that as part of earning a paycheck,” said Busalacchi. “Today is a day for them and for everyone in Wisconsin as our state finally goes smokefree.”

As part of the July 5th start date nearly two dozen celebrations were held at bars and restaurants across the state and supporters were encouraged to show their support through increased patronage at such establishments. They were also urged to thank lawmakers who voted for the law.

We realize the debate over going smoke-free was long and at times difficult. We hope businesses view the transition to smoke-free as an opportunity to appeal to a larger customer base; after all 80 percent of people in Wisconsin don’t smoke. We also want lawmakers to know their vote will improve people’s lives and save taxpayers money on tobacco-related illness,” said Miller.

Anyone with questions about the state law should visit the website for more information. Wisconsin joins 27 other states in going smoke-free, including Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Michigan.

Wisconsin’s statewide smoke-free law passed the Legislature with strong bipartisan support and was signed into law by Governor Jim Doyle last May.