Smoking Ban Considered

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

Many Wisconsin cities are considering a strict smoking ban like the one recently approved in Madison, but local bartenders say even if such bans are implemented, enforcing them is easier said than done.

Jane Blount has been a bartender at Loppnow's in Wausau for more than ten years. She says she doesn't think a smoking ban would hurt business at the bar. In fact, she thinks more people would be happy about it than upset.

"Because the martini bar is smoke free and people have mentioned how they like sitting in there, even smokers have mentioned how they like sitting in there."

Blount is referring to Kelly's martini bar in the downtown area. The bar has been smoke-free since it opened, but Kelly's owner Mike Kasper warns places that currently allow smoking won't have it so easy.

Kasper predicts many long-time smokers would still light up anyway, ban or not. Both those in favor of a smoking ban and opposed to it say smoking is such a part of bar culture, that the ban may be hard to enforce.

Bartenders like Jeffrey Awihart of the glass hat argue that trying to enforce a smoking ban would take up all their time.

"Every time somebody lights up and they smoke, are they supposed to go run from behind the bar and not serve the customer? It just couldn't be done.”

But that hasn't stopped cities from considering the idea, and city officials say it's only a matter of time before every community in Wisconsin has a smoke-free ordinance.

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