One Year Anniversary for Smoking Ban

7/5/11- It was a year ago today when Wisconsin became the 27th state, and the last among its neighbors, to ban indoor smoking in public places. A survey by the Smoke-Free Wisconsin group shows that 75-percent of residents favor the ban – up from 69-percent when legislators were debating it 15 months ago. Governor Scott Walker originally said the smoking ban would hurt businesses. But now, he says most people are comfortable with it, and he won’t do anything to change it. But not everybody’s happy. The Wisconsin Tavern League says it has lost three-percent of its members in the last year. And director Pete Madland said the smoking ban was partially to blame for the demise of 170 bars. But so far, at least, state sales tax collections for taverns-and-restaurants have not suffered. In fact, they went up by one-percent last year compared to 2009. Also, a U-W Madison study showed that communities which adopted their own smoking bans before the statewide ban had no negative effects on their economies. State officials say they’re getting a lot fewer complaints about businesses ignoring the smoking ban. There were about 600 such complaints in the past year. They went down dramatically after the first month. And after rising slightly last winter, complaints hit an all-time low in May.