Health officials: Wisconsin celebrates 7 years of smoke-free air - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Health officials: Wisconsin celebrates 7 years of smoke-free air in workplaces


Eau Claire (WQOW) - Seven years ago on Wednesday, the Dairy State passed the Smoke-Free Air Law, which is why you don't see smoking at indoor and outdoor public places anymore, like restaurants, parks and bars.

The law was put in place to create cleaner air and healthier businesses for Wisconsin's cities and towns. The hope with the law was to allow for more family-family friendly environments and to create new social opportunities for non-smokers.

Eau Claire City-County Health educators said since establishing smoke free facilities in 2010, the social norm for smoking is changing.

"In the past seven years, Wisconsin has seen a lot of benefits from the legislation. In general, the main goal of really protecting people from secondhand smoke, that's probably the biggest gain. Also, we've seen healthier environments for employees and the customers and patrons of businesses," said Rachael Manning, an educator with the Eau Claire City-County Health Department.

Losing customers and profit was a major concern for public facilities before the bill passed, but an Eau Claire bartender, who worked at bars back when smoking was allowed, said that's not the case at all.

In fact, he believes it grew business at places, like Wagner's Bowling Alley, where he currently works.

"People were weary to bring their children in because of the fact that you smell like a cigarette when you walk out," said Jake Jensen, the bar manager of Wagner's Bowling Alley.

On the flip side, Jensen said he doesn't think there has been a decline in smoking customers because most facilities, including Wagner's, allow you to smoke outside, 10 feet away from the building. 

Eau Claire (WQOW) - Wisconsin has been breathing a little easier for the past seven years.

According to a press release from the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, a 2010 legislation passed in Wisconsin to eliminate indoor smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

In Eau Claire County, the percentage of youth using tobacco products has decreased nearly 24 percent, from almost 30 percent in 2001 to 6 percent in 2016.

But, even with implementation of the smoke-free law seven years ago, health officials said challenges still remain. In Eau Claire County, nearly half of high school-age youth report that tobacco products are still easy to get.

“A number of steps to reduce smoking in Wisconsin have been taken, but we still need to prevent youth from starting to use and continue to help current users quit,” said Rachael Manning, a health educator at the Eau Claire City-County Health Department. “Nearly all tobacco use starts during youth or young adulthood, so prevention is critical."

In Eau Claire County, the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention and the Health Department conduct tobacco age compliance checks through the WI Wins program to prevent youth tobacco use. WI Wins is part of the state-wide tobacco prevention and control program.

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