Tavern Owners Prepare for Smoking Ban

By: Dana Brueck
By: Dana Brueck

The countdown to no smoking in Madison bars and taverns has begun. The ordinance passed last year. It takes effect within months.

But today bar and tavern owners met to discuss how they can comply.
Marsh Shapiro, owner of The Nitty Gritty says, "I think it's gonna be difficult to come out with this full blast on July 1st. I think there has to be a period of transition."

And to smooth the transition to no smoking, bar and tavern owners met with city leaders about implementing the smoking ban.

One suggestion ... a public education campaign.

Tavern owners need to understand the ordinance passed in April of last year. Their customers need to understand what it means.

John Kavanaugh owns the Esquire Club. He says, "I think we should have a grace period. I can go to my customers and ask them to discard cigarettes without coming down on them like a ton of bricks."

This is the first of a series of meetings where tavern owners can voice their concerns -- and they hope -- learn how to deal with potential problems.

One big question among them ... who gets the violation?

"If I understand correctly, it's not the smoker who will get cited, it's the bar-restaurant ... that's not giving smoker incentive not to smoke."

The mayor's chief of staff, the assistant city attorney, members of the health department and a couple of alders all were on hand for the meeting, but it produced more questions than answers ... on everything from who will enforce the ban and how ... to where does it end?

The health department and police are charged with enforcing the ordinance, but police say the department lacks the staff to do it.

The committee's next meeting is scheduled for March 9th.


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