Two weeks from today, on the 5th of July, the statewide ban on smoking in bars and restaurants goes into effect. Problem is, it’s not really a ban. Bar and restaurant owners have already found scores of loopholes to exploit, because nobody seems to be able to explain exactly what the law means.
No surprise, given that the law was written by lobbyists. In case you haven’t been paying attention, lobbyists now write all our important laws. They wrote that useless, toothless payday lending law; they wrote the educational “reform” law; they wrote the bill “regulating” the phone companies, and on and on.
And you thought our lawmakers wrote our laws? Come on.
The lobbyists put a neat little feature into the smoking ban law, which allows tavern and restaurant owners to create “accommodations” for their clients who smoke. But nobody can explain how these accommodations should be built, or even what they really are. Is it a patio? A deck? Some outside smoking area? A room adjoining the main facility, set aside for smokers?
The lobbyists wrote a law that nobody can understand, and that no city planner or building code enforcer can explain or interpret.
And that’s just the way the lobbyists wanted it.
When the politicians got up and gave speeches about this statewide smoking ban, they said they wanted to create a level playing field for all bars and restaurants, a level playing field that wasn’t possible under the patchwork of local smoking ordinances passed by municipalities across the state.
What the law does is essentially create two classes of bars and restaurants: one class that can afford to build or expand to handle smokers by squeezing through the loophole; and another class of bars and restaurants that can’t afford to do that, and will of course lose the business of smokers who can be accommodated by the other class of bars and restaurants.
Some of the pigs are more equal than the other pigs.
So, two weeks from today when the new law takes effect, don’t expect your favorite bar or restaurant to be smoke-free. Here in Wisconsin, where lobbyists write the laws, a ban is not really a ban.