I’ve stated in the past that I believe it should be up to each business owner to allow smoking in his or her own establishment. But I’m going to recant. I will soon celebrate not smoking for two years (not once have I put a lit cigarette to my mouth in that time). And I give the City of Madison a lot of credit for imposing a municipal ordinance that bans smoking in all public businesses; it has helped me stay smoke free.
So when I read that Governor Doyle is on the same path to push this statewide, I thought that this is a great idea. I’ll follow this up with an anecdote in a minute. But I fully support this initiative, even if it requires a phase-in period.
Now of course, he also announced that he will request an increase in the cigarette tax. I am not a big fan of taxes, unless there is a clear purpose and can remain self-sustaining. If the purpose of increased taxes on cigarettes is to raise revenue in general, it will likely backfire (despite how addictive smoking is), because it will push cigarette prices to the point where it costs less to purchase over-the-counter treatments to quit than to continue smoking. Sure, there will be some die-hard smokers that will never quit, and that’s their prerogative. However, if the purpose is to help encourage people to quit smoking, then it may be a step in the right direction. But I still believe that the revenue generated should be used for stop-smoking programs first, and health care costs second. I’ve been through the quitting process many times, and I know how difficult it is to quit.
Now my anecdote. I was hanging out in a restaurant that allows smoking near the Milwaukee area with a friend who smokes. He smoked six or seven cigarettes in the two hours I sat with him. When I left, I had a headache, and my clothes reeked of smoke. I immediately threw everything I had on into the washer at my folks’ house. It was totally disgusting. So now I’ve done a complete 180; IÂ support a smoking ban in public places.