Smoking Ban Defeated

By: Paige Lambrecht
By: Paige Lambrecht

With the city council split four to four, Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Jerry Bach had to cast the deciding vote on a proposed smoking ban and he voted no.

"If this would have come down from the state, we would have been screaming about another unfunded mandate, but we almost did it to ourselves.”

But an added cost to the city isn't the only reason he shot down the ban. Bach says he'd like to work with restaurants and convince them to go smoke-free voluntarily.

Supporters of the smoking ban say any restaurant that would have voluntarily gone smoke-free, would have done it already. That's why a ban is needed.

That's how Rapids resident Peter Gokey feels. He's the one who submitted the proposal to the city council. It would have banned smoking in all restaurants that get less than half their revenue from alcohol.

In Rapids that's about 19 restaurants. Gokey says those restaurant owners worried about losing profits, but he counters that the opposite may actually happen.

"I indicated earlier, there's a lot of people that do not go out to eat because of smoking. They would go out if they had a place to go."

Despite the council's decision, both the mayor and supporters of the ban say this issue isn't over. The mayor will continue encouraging restaurants to snuff out smoking on their own, while those in favor of a ban are already coming up with another proposal to bring before the council.