Support is growing for smoke-free laws

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Sen. Judy Robson
Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I received a stack of letters from schoolchildren urging the Legislature to pass a statewide ban on smoking in public places.

One child wrote, “There should be no smoking in cars with kids in it. Parents love smoking even thow it’s bad for them.”

Another wrote, “I always tell my mom to roll down the window or stop smoking but she doesn’t stop and I still smell the smoke. I love my mom and I don’t want her to die.”

Although the statewide smoking ban would not extend to homes and cars, it would clean up the air in bars, restaurants and other public places where smoking is still permitted.

Support for a statewide smoking ban is growing, according to a poll of Wisconsin voters in March.

Sixty-nine percent of people surveyed support a statewide ban on smoking in “most indoor public places, including all workplaces, public buildings, offices, restaurants and bars.”

That is a five-point increase from last year.

Support for a clean indoor air law stretches across party lines, demographic groups and geographical regions.

Support is growing even among smokers. Among the 21 percent of the electorate who say they are current or occasional smokers, 45 percent favor a statewide clean indoor air act and 49 percent oppose it. That is a 15-point drop in opposition over the past year.

The poll was conducted by Mellman Group and Public Opinion Strategies, firms associated with the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively.

Poll respondents recognize the dangers of secondhand smoke. They indicated that the right to clean air should trump a smoker’s right to smoke. Eighty-four percent stated that secondhand smoke is at least a moderate health hazard.

The survey also found that more people would go to bars and restaurants if they were smoke-free. A sizable majority of voters, 78 percent, believe a statewide smoking policy is inevitable in the near future.

I too, believe we will have a statewide indoor clean air act in the near future. I wish the Legislature had passed it this year.

In cities that have smoke-free restaurant and tavern policies, people are amazed by what a difference it makes.

A few years after the law goes into effect, the thought of a smoke-filled tavern will be as jarring as the image of Edward R. Murrow smoking a cigarette while delivering the evening news.

An ashtray in a tavern will look as out of place as an ashtray in the armrest of an airplane.

Once a statewide smoking ban is in place, everyone will breathe a little easier.

Sen. Judy Robson, D-Beloit, is a registered nurse and represents Rock County and the Whitewater area in the state Senate. She can be reached at Sen.robson@legis.wisconsin.gov or (608) 266-2253.

Last updated: 8:35 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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