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Public hearing to be held on statewide smoking ban

If you want to have a say on Wisconsin's proposed smoking ban, you'll have a chance May 31.

That's when a state Senate committee will hold a public hearing on the bill that bans smoking in all public places including bars and restaurants.

Thursday, Gov. Jim Doyle went to the Great Dane Brew Pub in Madison to promote the ban. And he reiterated that he would not approve an exemption to allow smoking in bars.

The state's Tavern League is pushing for that exception, but Doyle says it would make any smoking ban virtually meaningless.

The governor said neighboring Minnesota and Illinois will both be smoke-free by Jan. 1, and it's only a matter of time when Wisconsin will join them.

Doyle also urged the Legislature to approve his proposed cigarette tax hike from 77 cents a pack to a $1.25. Most of the added revenue would be used to treat smoking-related illnesses, help smokers quit and encourage teens not to start.