See the published article HERE

I have an admission to make. Brace yourselves. I agree with Governor Scott Walker. He has stated that the Smoke-Free Wisconsin Act of 2010 was a good thing and he does not intend to repealthe law. I would check to see if hell has frozen over, but I do not think supports that zip code.

And while Walker’s refusal to repeal probably irritates some members of the Tavern League – as hopes for repeal was a factor in supporting his campaign – many bar owners have come around to see that this has not hurt their business. Andanother UW study concluded that the ban has not economically impacted the hospitality industry.

I have personal interest on this topic. On July 5, 2011, I quit smoking for good. This was the last of several wholehearted attempts. As a teenager, I would occasionally sneak cigarettes from my step-father’s jacket. At 18, I quit because my boyfriend insisted. At 21, I started again when said boyfriend dumped me (oh SURE, that’ll show HIM!! How stupid.) I kicked the habit a number of times in the subsequent years, only to start again.

When I was 28, my step-daughter asked me if she could smoke when she was a grown up. Startled and horrified, I quit yet again, and this time, it lasted over five years. I considered myself a non-smoker and was darn proud. But then I slipped during a summer vacation and I turned into a sneaker smoker the next year. I was devastated that I allowed myself to fail. Especially since the addiction seemed to have a tighter grip than ever before. Quitting last summer was unbelievably difficult and I never thought I would make it through without a murder charge. But I did. And I appreciate each day for being smoke free.

I began wondering how many other people set their quit date according to the smoking ban. It seemed to my husband and I to be the perfect time to finally ditch the butts. I also wondered how the ban impacted health and business in Wisconsin.

The University of Wisconsin’s Tobacco Surveillance & Evaluation Program conducted a study in December of 2010 comparing indoor air quality in bars and restaurants before and after the legislation. The air quality increased by 92% in those few months. Racine went from an 85 rating to a 10; a significant drop in air toxins.

Stated in that study, “The results of the statewide examination of air quality in bars and restaurants before and after the implementation of the Smoke-free Act indicated an extraordinary improvement in air quality due to a high level of compliance with the new law.”

It has been widely understood that second hand smoke can and does lead to a variety of health issues such as asthma, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The air quality of public establishments is far more important than we may realize.

UW-Milwaukee initiated a study on the impact of the new law on bartender health. “Exposure to secondhand smoke during an average week decreased from 17.0 hours to 1.7 hours in the workplace and from 6.5 hours to 2.2 hours in other places. Among non-smokers, the prevalence of all eight upper respiratory symptoms decreased significantly (wheezing or whistling in chest, shortness of breath, cough first thing in the morning, cough during the rest of the day and night, cough up any phlegm, red or irritated eyes, runny nose, nose irritation, or sneezing, and sore or scratchy throat).”

The study found that there has been a significant reduction in upper respitory symptoms among non-smoking bartenders since the implication of the smoking ban. It can be concluded that the ban has, indeed, resulted in a decreased risk of disease for people in our state.

Some people believe that the smoking ban is a result of the pharmaceutical lobbyists and corporations controlling our government. Because pharmaceutical companies manufacture nicotine replacement products, there are those who believe they are demonizing tobacco simply to increase their profits. And while I detest the power of Big Pharma (perhaps that will be an upcoming commentary as I have plenty to say about that as well) I do not believe we need to side with either of these two evils.

I used to hide my shameful habit. Now, I celebrate my nicotine abstinence and I sincerely hope the crowd of non-smokers grows even larger. And while some people are still, over a year later, up in arms about this smoking law, I could not applaud it loud enough. I enjoy going out much more than before. It gave us a kick in the pants to quit – which may have added years to our lives.

The less people who smoke, the less who will suffer from smoking-related illnesses which costs us all in the long run. The better the air we breathe – the longer we will breathe. Who can really argue with that?


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