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Sen. Jon Erpenbach: Smoking ban makes healthier workplaces a reality
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This week marks a significant change coming in workplace health with the Legislative passage of a statewide smoking ban, which will go into effect July 5, 2010. By next summer all Wisconsin businesses will have the same rules banning indoor smoking and the same parameters of outdoor smoking. I am happy to have played a part in making this happen and I think the ban is good news for Wisconsin. In addition, the timeline is what will work the best for businesses that still allow smoking.

My priority when I became a part of the negotiation on this issue was to work to get a clean ban; I am pleased with the outcome. I remain concerned about local taverns struggling with business in any way in this economic downturn, but I know that the hodge-podge of local ordinances was just as difficult and the local fights had become exhausting. Businesses that still allow smoking have been fighting a statewide ban for several years and in that time hundreds of local ordinances have developed which made planning for businesses difficult and knowing what to expect when you walk in the door a problem for consumers.

We know that second-hand smoke is a health risk for everyone. Banning smoking in the workplace will help make our citizens healthier and in turn save on health care costs for the state and the private insurance pool.

Details on the smoking ban agreement:

The agreement will came in the form of a substitute amendment to Senate Bill 181 and Assembly Bill 253. The following changes are made to the existing bills:

1. With the exception of government-owned property, the agreement would pre-empt local ordinances to allow smoking outdoors.

2. Changes the fine structure to the following:

• Establishment: Will receive a warning on the first offense and a maximum of $100 for each subsequent offense. If the owner or person in charge makes a good-faith effort to prevent a person from smoking, there will be no fine.

• Individual: Will be subject to a fine of not less than $100 and not more than $250 for each violation.

3. Existing cigar bars and retail tobacco shops would be exempt.

4. Implementation date is July 5, 2010.

Thank you to everyone in the 27th Senate District who has contacted my office either in favor or against a statewide ban; I truly value your input and thoughts. Keep those contacts coming. For more information on the statewide ban, contact my office at (888) 549-0027 or (608) 266-6670 or via e-mail at

- Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Waunakee, serves the 27th State Senate District.