Wisconsin celebrates 7 years of smoke-free air

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The July 4th holiday may be over but there's still something to celebrate for many people as Wednesday marks seven years since Wisconsin became smoke-free.

The landmark legislation passed in 2010.

The legislation eliminated indoor smoking in all workplaces, including bar and restaurants like the Five O’Clock Club.

Manager Tina Wesner explained, “We're a smaller establishment so it was really a thick cloud of smoke in there so it's been nice to see people we'd never even met. I'm not a smoker myself and it's nice to come home and not smell like smoke, it dries your hair out, it dries your skin out.”

Since its passage, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department says it's had a positive impact on workers, customers, and even kids.

The department say the percentage of kids who use tobacco products has decreased from nearly 30-percent in 2001 to around 6-percent in 2015 the department says because smoking isn't as visible it may be one of the reasons for the decrease.

The Five O’Clock Club says since the ban its expanded business both by adding an outdoor patio and bringing in more customers.

Wesner said, “It was a tough adjustment at first, especially in the winter nobody wanted to come outside and smoke, but after a couple of years even the smokers have said how grateful they are to have gone nonsmoking.”

Customer Michael Satow says despite being a smoker himself he supports the ban.

Satow said, “Most smokers, like myself aren't fond of being smokers because it's an addiction that you deal with, and anything you can do to quell that storm is a good thing.”

Satow says even as a smoker he continues to see the benefits of the ban for everyone.

“I think now over time, seven years later, it's come full circle,” said Satow. “Now you have a lot of people who may have been uncomfortable in the bar at one point are now comfortable because they're not around the second hand smoke.”

The Five O’Clock Club does says the only negative they've seen from the ban is the number of cigarette butts left around the outside of bar and parking lot.

The health departments also say it continues to use programs that mix education and oversight to keep tobacco out of the hands of kids and teens.

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