Christian Schneider

Author, Columnist

Category: Smoking

Breske Tells Big Government to “Butt Out”

In order to run a house of the state legislature, party discipline is a must. Certain members of your caucus aren’t going to agree with leadership on everything, but a lot of them will go along for the ride to achieve a greater goal.

In the Wisconsin State Senate, Democratic leadership is pushing for a smoking ban in virtually every business in the state. They cite the ban as a health issue, and have the backing of groups like Smoke Free Wisconsin and the American Cancer Society.

Until this point, Democratic Senator Roger Breske has been playing good soldier and working on a compromise bill for his caucus. Breske represents a district full of local taverns that just want government to leave them alone and make their own choices about what’s best for their businesses. As a result, Senator Breske is skeptical of the long arm of government reaching up into the north woods to micromanage the property rights of his constituents.

This week, Senate Democrats held a press conference to announce their economic “stimulus” package. During the question and answer period, Breske was asked about the smoking ban. He stammered a little, describing the process up to this point, and the fact that no agreement had been reached. Senate Majority Decker stepped in immediately to reiterate the caucus position that a smoking ban is needed.

Breske was then asked a follow-up question, at which point he dropped the “consensus builder” charade and told it like it is. He pointed out the fact that these taverns are often all the owners have in terms of investments, and a smoking ban could shut them down (a point Decker conceded in his comments.) He then bemoaned government “sticking its nose” in everyone’s business, saying, “why does the government have to tell everyone what to do all the time?”

At this point, the Senate Democrats behind him begin shifting nervously, their eyes darting around the room. Senator John Lehman cracked a smile.

Breske went on: “I just can’t believe this is what we’re here for. We should be doing something decent… instead of trying to put people out of business. I know that they say this is the greatest thing in the world, that it’s going to solve all the health problems in the country, but that’s hogwash. I was born and raised in a barn since I was that high, and I was tending bar since I was that high (holding hand four feet above the ground.) And there was only one light bulb in the bar. There was no fans, and everyone smoked. It was blue in there. Come on, I’m still alive, and I’m 69 years old. It’s sickening.

(If you’re keeping score that would be Breske 1, science 0.)

Needless to say, Breske’s remarks are likely not going to make their way into the Democrats’ talking points when they eventually pass a smoking ban. While the media love nothing more than covering Republicans that criticize other Republicans, here’s an independent Democrat who deserves credit for exposing the wrongheadedness of a statewide smoking ban. Kudos to him.

Video of the press conference can be seen at the WisconsinEye website here. Breske begins at the 17:30 mark, but begins his breathtaking tirade at 20:00.

Another Downside of Smoking Bans…

…You might start to realize that the people you\’ve been drinking with actually stink.

From our friends in Scotland:

\"\" A PUB regular has been barred from his favourite Dunfermline boozer  for indiscriminate wind breaking.

Management at the bar say Stewart Laidlaw \”revels\” in his bouts of flatulence and other punters have almost been sick after exposure to the foul smells.

Mr Laidlaw (35), who is furious at the ban by Thirsty Kirsty\’s, is thought to be the first person in West Fife to be barred for breaking wind.

The James Street pub\’s owner says the stench has become unbearable since Scotland\’s smoking ban came in last year but suspects drinkers could have been breathing in the waft for years before without noticing it.

Is there any question this is the next thing to be banned in our bars and restaurants?  Think of the employees!

Incidentally, this is more reporting than any state newspaper has done on a real issue in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race.

The Cigarette Tax Paradox

I was talking with one of my guys in the Capitol the other day, and he mentioned that his office was getting a lot of calls opposing Governor Doyle\’s proposed $1.25 cigarette tax increase.  Apparently, some stores are passing out cards with their cigarettes that say \”call your legislator and oppose the increased cigarette tax.\”  (Someone call the good government groups – someone is trying to influence legislation without their consent!)

There\’s a more interesting angle, though.  He said that 90% of the people that call to attack Doyle\’s tax increase suggest something else to tax.  They say, \”why don\’t you tax the rich,\” or \”try taxing alcohol more,\” or suggest taxing porn or fast food.

So here you have a group of people who have been targeted to pay a new politically popular tax suggesting other people should pay a higher tax that they deem politically popular.  They\’ve bought into the whole notion that you should tax people based on how much we like them.  They think we should tax people that the public dislikes – without realizing that they are those people.

India Has Got it Backwards…

Recently the Associated Press reported that a court in New Delhi has banned cigarette smoking and cell phone usage while driving a vehicle. They assume that these acts distract people from driving safely. So if we\’re going to ban distractions behind the wheel, shouldn\’t we ban radios, passengers, eating and even roadside advertising? In the interim, the fines in New Delhi should at least measure up to the danger of the crime. The fine for smoking a cigarette while driving in New Delhi is $32 which is pretty steep in India. For running a red light, a mere $13. I don\’t know about you, but I\’d rather see a driver smoking than running red lights…