Smoking ban anniversary - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Smoking ban anniversary gives breathing room to smokers & non-smokers

WAUSAU (WAOW) -- The state's businesses have been smoke-free for a year now, After that law went into effect last July. Business owners said they were originally concerned about losing money over the law, but some have turned this new rule into an opportunity to bring in even more business.

Before the ban even went into effect, the owner of Campus Pub put together plans to expand, making space for smokers and non-smokers to keep coming and still have some breathing room.

When Wisconsin's statewide smoking ban went into effect, strict rules were put in place about where people could or couldn't light up. Restaurants and bars were banned, but one local business owner had an idea.

"We were kind of sitting down together and we kind of drew this up on a napkin," said Campus Pub owner Kevin Steinke.

He expanded his shop, moving the focus outdoors.

"We went from a small little bar that could hold probably 60 people and it was really smoky inside," said Steinke. "That was one of our major complaints."

An atmosphere complete with a tiki bar and a beach-like sand beckons to bar-goers, bringing in even more business. People around Wausau said they can breathe a little easier now that the ban's in effect. Even former smokers find advantages for keeping clean air around.

"I've heard that the people think it's great and business hasn't fallen off like they thought it might either," said Bob Stieglitz, who lives in Wausau .

Not everyone agrees though. We talked to some smokers who said smoky air wasn't really a problem in the first place. According to a poll put together by a number of nationwide groups, including the American Lung Association, more than 70% of Wisconsin voters say they support smoke-free air. And bar owners said they're glad things have turned out the way they have.

"We've been very fortunate," said Steinke. "Our customers here, they're like family."

According to that same poll, about 90% of people say they go out the same or more often now that bars and restaurants are smoke-free. That poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 points.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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