Statewide Ban In Wisconsin Restaurants Likely

A smoking ban in all state restaurants is closer to becoming law.

The Assembly approved a bill Thursday that bans smoking in dining areas in all Wisconsin restaurants, but permits it in their bars as well as taverns and bowling alleys.

The bill wipes out local anti-smoking ordinances in 21 cities across the state, including Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire and Janesville. Local governments would be prevented from enacting stricter measures ever again.

The Senate is expected to take up the measure next week. Governor Doyle must sign it before it can become law.

Scott Stenger, with the Tavern League of Wisconsin, says the bill creates a level playing field for bars and restaurants rather than a patchwork of ordinances.

Democrats in the Assembly called the bill an attack on local leaders' ability to make decisions.