Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Have a cigar

A deal has been struck in the legislature regarding a statewide smoking ban in bars and restaurants, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Wisconsin would be covered by a comprehensive statewide workplace smoking ban by July 5, 2010, if a deal brokered Wednesday is passed by the Legislature 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 vote May 13 in 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.

The time table for passing the ban:

• 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 10 a.m. Friday 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 until July 2010 to comply.

I wonder how many taverns are going to spend the next year converting to cigar bars?

The compromise, if passed, would seem to spare Waukesha's Nice Ash Cigar Bar.