But Wisconsin’s smoke-free law will take some learning…
By Jack E. Lohman
As a former smoker, I understand the consternation of smokers. But please, blame the taverns and restaurant operators that ignored sensible and inexpensive ideas instead of the nonsmokers that fought for the law. These operators harmed mostly their employees without need, and rushed a law that might otherwise have been delayed.
Nothing, including smoke-eaters, protected the employees. Even if smokers themselves, they were consuming an extra pack of cigarettes per day just being at work. Higher cancer rates among wait staff occurred. Not even separate smoking rooms helped, so for them the law is a virtual lifesaver and long overdue.
But now it is what it is. And even if the politicians wanted to, most of those restaurants who were forced to go smoke free will have nothing to do with reversing the law. Some may try to allow smoking anyway, but the loss of nonsmoker business will overrule their decision.
The restaurants and bars that have suffered from the law (which will be few) now have to fend for themselves. They won’t have the tobacco industry to lobby and bribe politicians for them any more. They will have to spruce up or get out.
Ask some questions:
Is my food good? I can now eat at one of my favorites (George Webbs) because I can now breathe at the same time I eat. But some eateries may have to improve their food, especially if smoking was the only thing that kept people coming back. Now those smokers are looking for good food instead. Surprised?
Do I need advertising? At the very least put a sign outside: “Enjoy great food. Now Smoke Free!”
Elbow grease? Yea, scrub the place. Get rid of the rancid smell.
But also be mad — very mad — if your restaurant or tavern association took money from the tobacco industry and helped them delay this commonsense law… and so did your politicians (for a price, mind you).
These associations worked against the best interests of their members. If your food and service is decent you were losing two nonsmokers for every smoker you kept. And the smokers kept coming back and the nonsmokers didn’t.
A big mistake was not going smoke free earlier and voluntarily, but the tobacco forces convinced them to reject that idea.
The next Wisconsin issue is a single payer healthcare system that hopefully will get health care off your backs and your employees protected. If your association is taking money from the insurers or even selling their product, find a new association. This one is killing your business.
A year after New York went smoke free its Department of Labor reported 10,000 new hospitality jobs. That is not the sign of a failed policy. Today’s economy won’t replicate those results, but they won’t be dismal either.