MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Wisconsin’s public indoor smoking ban is starting its fourth year – and if you’re counting on Republicans to repeal it, don’t hold your breath.
Maureen Busalacchi of Smoke-Free Wisconsin says it’s too popular for critics to touch.
Polls by health groups have shown that up to 80 percent of state residents support the ban. According to state officials, that’s about the same percentage of Wisconsinites who don’t smoke.
Also, restaurants that feared a loss of business have actually seen things improve.
State tax collections and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association said their business rose 2 percent during the first year of the smoking ban – at a time when the country was still sputtering in the aftermath of the Great Recession. They also reported a 4 percent increase the second year.
Busalacchi said the numbers prove that the smoking ban is working well, and it’s good for business.
The Wisconsin Tavern League disagrees. It says the ban has contributed to a drop in mom and pop taverns throughout the Badger State.
Busalacchi said many of those businesses were probably struggling already.
Observers say bars have not been helped by a recent crackdown on drunk driving – and talk of even more legislation.