Did you have a say in the smoking ban? -mrm- -bkm -dlh

Meghan McCallum

After a long battle between smokers, non-smokers, and all those in between, the smoking referendum held on Tuesday concluded that, starting July 1, Appleton will have Wisconsin’s strictest smoking ban. The referendum passed by a margin of more than 2,000 voter, 9,726 voters favored the ban while 7,551 voters opposed the ban.
Once implemented, the ban will prohibit smoking in all Appleton businesses. The ordinance prohibits smoking in all indoor public places, public transportation, a radius of 20 feet from entries of all city-owned structures including the Appleton Public Library and the Transit Center, all city parks, all educational facilities and all places of employment. The ban excludes retail tobacco stores, theatrical performances, and bed and breakfast, hotel, and motel rooms.
Appleton political action groups took sides on the issue of the smoking ban early. The Clean Air Works group supported the ban while the Citizens for Responsible Regulation opposed the ordinance.
Gayle Hardt, treasurer of Clean Air Works, says that the grassroots organization was formed in December 2004 specifically to combat Appleton’s referendum. The group organized the petition to have the referendum placed on the April ballot and worked with the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, Smoke Free Wisconsin and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids to send mailings about secondhand smoke.
On behalf of Clean Air Works, Hardt says that the group is thrilled that the referendum passed and added that, “The vote makes a statement ********– that Appleton is a progressive community and one that cares about enhancing our quality of life.”
A representative from Citizens for Responsible Regulation was unavailable to comment.
Students on campus also reacted to the smoking ordinance. After a petition for the referendum had enough signatures to hold a vote, LUCC President Pete Snyder decided to make an effort to help Lawrence community members get their voices heard. He put up signs around campus encouraging us to vote and also e-mailed campus groups such as the Government Club, the College Republicans, the College Democrats, and the Wellness Committee.
With the help of Kass Kuehl and activities director Paul Shrode, Snyder organized a shuttle van to voting places. The three took turns driving to ensure shuttling throughout the day.
Yet for all the effort put into mobilizing voters from our campus, Snyder stated that a total of about ten students showed up to take advantage of the shuttle van. (He added, hopefully, that perhaps some had walked, since the weather was so nice.)
Low voter turnout is not uncommon, especially for small events like referendums. But it seems somewhat surprising that Lawrentians did not take much action on this issue. Snyder opined that many non-smoking students have no preference for or against the ban, and therefore saw the referendum as a win-win situation. Therefore, they did not bother voting.
Personally, Snyder says that he is “totally against the ban.” He’d prefer people to be able to choose whether they went to smoking or non-smoking restaurants and bars, and added that the ban will be detrimental for Appleton business owners. “We should respect [the owners] as a society,” he added.
So for all you smokers out there, it looks like the only thing to do is keep it outside. Whether the ban is bad or good news, in any case it’s a reminder to us to take advantage of our right to vote.