Polls Show 64% of Wisconsin Voters Support Smoking Ban

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Madison: A new poll shows there's strong support for a proposed statewide smoking ban. "There is widespread support for a statewide law that would prohibit smoking in most indoor public places in Wisconsin, including restaurants and bars," says Nathan Henry, of the Mellman Group, one of the firms that conducted the poll.

The poll was conducted last week and shows 64% of voters support the ban with no exemptions for bars and taverns.

That's how Ed Lump and the Wisconsin Restaurant Association feels. "The Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association voted 36-1 to support a statewide workplace smoking ban," says Lump.

Lump says Wisconsin's 16,000 restaurants would be at a serious disadvantage if taverns were exempted from the ban, as some Republicans in the Assembly demand. "The only way to minimize the impact of a smoking ban on every restaurant and tavern in Wisconsin is to create a truly level playing field with no exceptions," says Lump.

In fact, Lump says if taverns get an exemption, you may be surprised to see smoking at your favorite supper club. To be a tavern, you need 50% of revenue to come from alcohol sales. "The general public will be surprised at how many restaurants actually qualify as taverns because they sell enough alcohol to do so," says Lump.

The most important numbers from the poll may be the 73% of Democratic voters and 58% of Republican voters who support the ban. Those are numbers the coalition hopes lawmakers can't ignore. "Support is a mile wide and also a mile deep. There's a significant amount of support out there that really does cut across all groups," says Patrick Lanne, of Public Opinion Strategies, another pollster.