On Monday, Wisconsin will become the 28th state in the country to implement a statewide smoking ban for public workplaces, restaurants and bars.
On Monday, Wisconsin will become the 28th state in the country to implement a statewide smoking ban fopublic workplaces, restaurants and bars. Existing cigar bars, tobacco shops and casinos would be exempt from the new law, and a late amendment to the bill will allow smoking at bar entrances and in rooms where at least 25 percent of the walls are made up of windows that open.
“(The amendment) was helpful and important so we can accommodate smokers,” said Scott Stenger, a lobbyist for the Tavern League of Wisconsin in a recent WisBusiness report. “Unfortunately, not everyone can have an area like that, so it doesn’t work for all members.”
The Milwaukee area Diablos Rojos Restaurant Group which manages local eateries including, Trocadero, Café Hollander Tosa Village, Café Hollander Milwaukee and Café Centraal in Bayview all went smoke free this spring in preparation of statewide ban.
“We’ve always been big supporters of the ban as long as it was fair and statewide,” said Eric Wagner, co-owner of the group. “Making the ban statewide puts everyone on the same playing field and gives everyone a healthier environment.”
Despite the occasional ‘gripe,’ Wagner said the majority of his customers, smokers included appreciate the new smoke free environment.
“We’ve gotten only positive responses from our customers,” Wagner said. “Very few people, even smokers, actually like sitting in a room full of stale cigarette smoke. Our smoking customers even appreciate it because they end up smoking a few less cigarettes and going for more short walks.”
According to Wagner, many of the Group’s restaurants do feature vibrant outdoor patio areas where smoking is permitted and will continue to be permitted as long as it doesn’t bother customers.
“I think it’s like anything else,” Wagner said. “It will take a little while to get used to but after a while people will really start to enjoy smoke free environments and will be amazed that we used to be able to smoke in bars.”
“Now we’ll just have to see what effect is has on tavern owners,” he says. “Many have made accommodations for smokers outside their establishments. We hope it will be a smooth transition, but there likely will be some business disruption, so there is fear among many of our members.”
“As an organization we never took an official position,” said Dave Fantle, vice president of public relations for VISIT Milwaukee. “We are certainly supportive of going in that direction, our neighboring states have all made decisions to do so, and we don’t have any tangible evidence that this type of legislation will have any negative impact on our ability to bring tourists into the community. It’s going to create a healthier environment and certainly no one should be opposed to that.”
To hear more of what local bars and restaurants have to say about the ban take a look at BizTimes Media media partner Third Coast Digest’s feature series “Smoke ‘em while you got ‘em,”