Across the border: Wisconsin could go smoke-free - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Across the border: Wisconsin could go smoke-free

PLATTEVILLE, WI (KWWL) -- Another state is looking at adopting a statewide smoking ban. Wisconsin lawmakers say they're likely to pass a ban next week, making it the last of the tri-states to go smoke free.

Legislators have been arguing a ban for years, and local bar owners have mixed emotions on the prospect of a no-smoking requirement.

Tina Bowen, owner of the VFW Bar in Platteville, says most of her customers oppose a smoking ban -- smoker or not.

"If they're a non-smoker, they feel like if they come in here, they choose to come in here, that they don't need the state to tell them to quit smoking or stop smoking in here," Bowen said.

Being surrounded by non-smoking states, Bowen says an ashtray on the bar has been a customer draw.

"I get a lot of people from Iowa and Illinois that come in and say it's nice that they can sit down and enjoy a cigarette, and don't have to go outside or worry about how many feet away from a building theyr'e standing," Bowen said.

Now, she worries business might take a hit.

Down the street at Badger Bar, owner Diane Clark says the health concerns with smoking have her in support of a ban.

"I have to breathe in that secondary smoke, and I'm not exactly too thrilled about that," Clark said.

She's also ready to quit worrying about the fire hazards and cleaning issues indoor smoking brings.

"You would really be suprised at the amount of yellow nicotine, the tan, that comes off of those windows."

Clark says she's kept smoking in her 102 year-old bar because about half of her customers smoke, and most neighboring bars allow it.

"I thought I'd just bide my time, and if the state says we shouldn't be doing this, I'm certainly very willing to go along with that," Clark said.

Because of a deal arranged between legislators and lobbyists, the ban wouldn't go into effect until July of next year. That's to give bar owners time to adjust.

Lawmakers say the bill should pass through both houses next week, and the governor would sign shortly thereafter. That would make Wisconsin the 26th state to go smoke-free.

Cigar bars and tobacco shops would be exempt, as would casinos because, in Wisconsin, they are all tribal-owned.

In the past couple of years midwest states have jumped on the smoking ban band wagon. Minnesota's went into effect in October of 2007. Illinois' smoking ban became law in January of 2008. A little later that year Iowa made it official when the smoking ban took effect in July of 2008.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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