BERKELEY, Calif., June 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Smokefree workplace laws
scheduled to take effect July 1st in Appleton and Madison will be wiped off
the books -- along with dozens of others already in effect or being considered
in cities like Milwaukee -- if state lawmakers pass the misleadingly named
"Smokefree Dining Act" in the next few weeks.
Far from making Wisconsin's restaurants smokefree, the proposed "Smokefree
Dining Act" (identical bills Assembly Bill 414 and Senate Bill 202) would
actually eliminate smokefree dining in Wisconsin. In addition, the proposal
would allow smoking in virtually all worksites statewide, and also "preempt"
or take away any option for cities to address local secondhand smoke concerns
in the future.
"It's outrageous," said Bronson Frick, Associate Director for the
non-profit group, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights. "It would take Wisconsin
back to a time before the mountain of scientific evidence linked occupational
exposure to smoke with a huge range of diseases and premature death. Today we
know that the earth isn't flat and that secondhand smoke kills. Everyone
should have the right to breathe air free of tobacco smoke in their
"Secondhand tobacco smoke remains one of the leading causes of preventable
death in Wisconsin, causing suffering for many families and workers. This
bill, if passed, would be a huge victory for Big Tobacco -- perhaps their
greatest legislative victory in the United States in the past several years.
Wisconsin residents should urge their lawmakers to vote No on the Big Tobacco
Protection bill. Wisconsin's public health laws should be guided by science,
not by tobacco lobbyists."
"Local communities should have the right to consider smokefree workplace
protections if that's what those communities want. This isn't rocket science.
Cities across the country, from New York City, to Laramie, Wyoming, are
passing strong smokefree laws to protect workers and residents from secondhand
smoke. Wisconsin is way behind the curve on these health protections, but it
is even more shocking that if they pass this bill, they would be headed in the
wrong direction entirely," Frick added.
Health policy experts point out that state-level proposals for cutting
citizens and local governments out of the smoking debate is a common tobacco
industry tactic that has been used in other states.
"We know from the once-secret Philip Morris documents turned over in
lawsuits that stripping away local control on smokefree air is the tobacco
industry's top legislative priority," said Frick.
"Tobacco companies prefer fighting public health measures like smokefree
workplace policies at the state level, where they have more lobbying influence
over the legislative process and are more likely to succeed in killing good
"Philip Morris's documents show that that the company is well-aware that
smokers who want to quit find it easier to do so when they work in a smokefree
environment," he said. "Big Tobacco wants to keep people addicted and their
cigarette profits up."
A study published in the May 2005 issue of the medical journal Circulation
found that even short-term exposure to secondhand smoke can cause
life-threatening changes to a nonsmoker's circulation system.
"The effects of even brief exposure to passive smoking are often nearly as
large (80 to 90 percent) as chronic active smoking," according to Dr. Stanton
Glantz of the University of California, San Francisco and one of the study's
"It doesn't take much to cause big effects," Glantz said. "If you already
have compromised coronary circulation and go into a smoky environment, there
is a substantial increase in your risk of an acute event (such as a heart
In light of mounting evidence linking short-term secondhand smoke exposure
to increased heart attack risk, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention issued a warning in 2003 urging all people at risk of heart disease
to avoid all enclosed places where smoking occurs.
Nationally, over 4,600 municipalities now have smokefree workplaces by
local or statewide law. About 35% of the U.S. population now lives in an area
with smokefree restaurants by law (including any bar areas). Wisconsin is
now considered one of the smokiest states in the U.S., with under one percent
of the state's population having the right to smokefree workplaces or indoor
public places, but more cities, including Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Milwaukee
have considered stronger smokefree policies in recent months.
Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights is a national member-based non-profit
dedicated to protecting people's right to breathe smokefree air in enclosed
workplaces and public places.
Philip Morris company documents on preemption and workplace restrictions:
Philip Morris Preemption Strategy Map
SOURCE Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights