That's what Governor Jim Doyle thinks will happen if Wisconsin falls behind its neighbors by not passing a statewide ban on smoking in public places, including bars.
Wisconsin passed a law in the 1980s that prohibited smoking in theaters and retail stores, a fairly progressive move at the time, but now dozens of states have gone smoke-free. Illinois last week began prohibiting smoking in all workplaces, restaurants and taverns. Minnesota has had the same law since last fall, and Michigan and Iowa have bills pending in their state capitols.He appealed Friday in a media teleconference with Lance Armstrong for legislative leaders to let a limited smoking ban come to a floor vote before the Legislature adjourns in two weeks.
Gov. Jim Doyle is pushing hard to go smoke free here, fearing the state will "become the ash tray of the midwest."
Though a high priority of the governor's, and the subject of a major push by anti-smoking advocates, the ban has been delayed for months in the Senate and its future in the Assembly is uncertain. The Senate bill, as amended, calls for a ban by 2010. The Assembly bill has an implementation date of 2009.Doyle will be appearing at a Monona Terrace rally with the cancer survivor and Tour de France champion next Tuesday, March 4.
When asked to describe the source of the delay, Doyle pointed his finger at "old-time politics" and the Wisconsin Tavern League.
"I think the Tavern League is telling some legislators not to let it come to a vote and they're listening to them," he said.
Doyle also said it was a "myth" that northern communities in Wisconsin, unlike such cities as Madison, do not want a smoking ban. The governor said he recently spent time with the mayors of Superior, Bayfield, Ashland and Washburn, and all were supportive of a statewide ban.