MADISON – Speaking to an enthusiastic crowd of supporters today, Governor Jim Doyle and cycling icon turned cancer advocate Lance Armstrong urged the people of Wisconsin to end workplace smoking in their state, including in bars and restaurants.
“Wisconsin has every reason to pass a smoking ban and no excuse not to,” Governor Doyle told those gathered for a Citizens for Smoke Free Air Rally. “The people of Wisconsin want it, a strong bipartisan majority of the Legislature wants it and – most importantly – it’s the right thing to do. It’s time to take a vote.”
Armstrong, a cancer survivor and founder of the Lance Armstrong Foundation, told the rally that secondhand smoke kills and no one should have to put themselves at greater risk of getting cancer just by going to work or out to dinner.
“We create laws in order to protect ourselves and others,” said Armstrong, “and that’s exactly what smoke free laws do. All the science shows that secondhand smoke is deadly. Going smoke free is one of the greatest steps states can take to protect citizens and prevent cancer.”
Governor Doyle has made passing a statewide smoke free law a priority and said politics should not get in the way of public health. Smoke free advocates agreed, saying Wisconsin lawmakers need to listen to the voters and not the special interests.
“The people of Wisconsin want this bill. They want their Legislature to stop stalling and take action,” said Alison Prange, Wisconsin Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society.
Maureen Busalacchi, Executive Director of Smoke Free Wisconsin added, “Hundreds of people got up at dawn and rode buses to Madison today. These people are not just here for the rally, they’re also going to the Capitol to meet with their lawmakers and tell them to pass this bill.”
Earlier today, the Assembly Public Health Committee did just that, voting to approve a version of the bill to end workplace smoking in 2009, including in bars and restaurants. The bill now awaits a floor vote.
Twenty-three states have comprehensive smoke free laws with Nebraska signing theirs into law last week and Iowa expected to follow suit within the month.
Also joining Armstrong and Doyle at today’s rally were a large bipartisan group of supportive lawmakers, members of the Wisconsin Restaurant Association, medical professionals, and the Midwest area heads of the American Lung Association and the American Cancer Society.