Police estimate 600 to 700 people gathered outside of the City County Building to rally for a repeal of Madison's smoking ban, saying it is hurting businesses and their employees.
Many people carried signs, or they carried maps of Madison's Aldermanic Wards, to encourage people to call their alders and call for a repeal.
The Coalition to Save Madison Jobs organized the rally, which brought tavern owners, employees and other supporters. Marsh Shapiro, owner of the Nitty Gritty, criticized a proposal by six alders that calls for the smoking ban to go to referendum in the spring. He says "don't play politics with people's livelihoods." Shapiro says "suspend and amend this ordinance now before businesses are closed ..."
Critics of the ban say they would support a statewide ban on smoking in dining areas, if their effort for a repeal fails.