The Smoking Ban – How Illinois Did it Better

Published on: 7/5/2010

Breathe deep. Ahhhh….yep, it starts today folks, the Indoor Smoking Ban in Wisconsin. Those of us who don’t smoke are pretty darn excited. I’m especially looking forward to visiting a couple of Tosa places that sometimes are WAY too smoky for me: Club Tap and Col. Hart’s.

If you’ve seen a rash of patio renovations lately, you know that businesses owners were preparing for this day. I applaud them and hope that all of us who have avoided certain restaurants and businesses will now patronize those places.

Here’s the problem I have with our brand-spankin’ new legislation: It’s not tough enough. Take a look at Illinois’ smoking ban and you’ll see that they took it one step further. They banned smoking within 15 feet of building entrances, exits and windows. For me, that’s genius. There’s nothing worse than approaching a non-smoking establishment and having to wade through a waft of smoke just to get in the door.

I guess for a state like Wisconsin that LOVES its taverns, that extra 15 feet would be too much. Sigh.

I have to wonder – what will winter be like? Will there be a crowd of people standing outside the door greeting us with a cloud of smoke before we even get inside? I have to be honest and tell you I’m not sure I’m willing to deal with that. And even now in the summer, does this mean that there will be smoking sections on the patios? I doubt it. In my opinion, smoke is just as unpleasant outside as it is inside. This is why I think Illinois did it better.

Look, I grew up in a smoking household so I understand the smoking frame-of-mind. But I also think of my friend Trish, whose father (a NON-smoker who worked in a smoke-filled office) died from lung cancer. Try and tell her that this new legislation isn’t important.

It’s only Day 1. I’m grateful for this new legislation and hope it gives all of us a breath of fresh air. But I can’t help but wish that it went a little further.