Wisconsin is taking a leadership role in the fight to reduce the health consequences of smoking and tobacco use. Current Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle supports a comprehensive tobacco cessation plan for the state. Governor Doyle would increase the tax on cigarettes to fund a tobacco prevention and control program, a program that is drastically underfunded at this time. He also supports legislative efforts to make Wisconsin a smoke free state, but time is running out at the state capitol.
I am well aware that there are many concerns in addition to public health issues that need to be weighed in state-wide comprehensive measures such as this. And the primary discussion tends to focus what effect the ban may have on businesses such as restaurants and bars. But the states that have enacted legislation have repeatedly shown that there is no negative economic impact across the state, compliance and public support are high, and several states have reported an increase in sales and revenues at bars and restaurants. This probably explains why this statewide smoke free effort is supported by the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, representing 3,000 member businesses with over 7,000 locations across the state.
Since tobacco is the only agent I know of that when “used as directed” is life threatening, a decrease in smoking would naturally result in improved public health and, hopefully, reduced health care costs associated with tobacco smoke.
Wisconsin has an opportunity to join 23 other states in becoming smoke free, I encourage Wisconsin residents to let your elected officials know that this legislation is extremely important and that you want to see a smoke free bill passed during this legislative session.
Lance will be in Madison and Milwaukee on March 4th to show his support for this effort. For more information and details about Lance’s visit, click on www.itstimewisconsin.org