Around the Big Ten: Wisconsin smoking ban takes effect

Around the Big Ten: Wisconsin smoking ban takes effect

News from the home cities and states of the Big Ten:

WISCONSIN: State's indoor smoking ban starts Monday

MADISON, Wis. (AP) – Smoke 'em if you got 'em.

Just be prepared to do it outside.

Starting Monday smoking indoors in Wisconsin will be tougher. A new state law bans smoking everywhere from Lambeau Field to the tiniest Northwoods tavern to the veterans home at King.

More and more people have been quitting in Wisconsin, even without the ban.

Since 2000, adults who smoke has dropped 17 percent with even larger decreases for young people – 65 percent for middle schoolers and 38 percent for high schoolers.

The ban has been a long time coming and Wisconsin will be far from unique once it finally kicks in. Gov. Jim Doyle signed it into law more than a year ago, but agreed to the delayed start time to give thousands of bars, restaurants and others affected time to adjust.

Some found a possible way around the law – constructing an indoor room with enough openings to allow smoking – while others welcomed the statewide ban to replace local prohibitions that created a patchwork of restrictions across the state.

Now cities that have had bans for years, including Kenosha, Janesville and Madison, will be smoke-free along with everyone else. Wisconsin is the 28th state with a comprehensive ban.

Monday is a time for celebration, said Maureen Busalacchi, executive director of SmokeFree Wisconsin. Few taverns will try to get around the ban by constructing indoor smoking rooms, she predicted.

"If they're going to do something elaborate, it's going to cost a lot of money," she said.

Constructing the smoking rooms, which must have openings over at least 25 percent of the wall space, isn't the only way around the ban. An alternative to traditional tobacco is the so-called e-cigarette, a battery powered device that uses liquid nicotine to mimic a traditional cigarette and emits a vapor but not proper smoke.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate electronic cigarettes, but it has issued warnings about health risks associated with the devices.

Despite the possible ways around the law, its backers say the overwhelming result will be cleaner air and a healthier environment for workers and patrons of Wisconsin's bars and restaurants. The ban applies to all workplaces and extends to bus shelters, theaters, hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts.

It also covers all public stadiums, including that one in Green Bay where the Packers play.

The ban does not include private homes, rooms in assisted living facilities where people in them agree to allow smoking, and retail tobacco stores or tobacco bars that existed before June 3, 2009, where only the smoking of cigars and pipes is allowed.

Violators can be fined up to $250.

Smoking has been legal in Wisconsin's largest city. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the police department will take a "common sense approach" toward enforcement.

"Enforcing this law will not take any police officers away from crime-fighting duties," Barrett said in a statement. "The Milwaukee Police Department's primary focus will continue to be fighting crime."

INDIANA: University workers protest lack of raises

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – A group of Indiana University staff members protested at the main entrance to the Bloomington campus over the lack of pay raises.

About 30 people joined in Thursday's protest, wearing black clothing or ribbons in signs of solidarity.

Union local president Bryce Smedley said low-paid staff workers were suffering without raises for a second year "even though we are seeing a whirlwind of new building projects and higher student enrollments."

University spokesman Larry MacIntyre says it is premature to assume that employees won't receive raises this year. He said IU officials want to give raises and are monitoring state revenue and university enrollment figures before making a decision.

NEBRASKA: School names 'Innovator in Residence'

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – The first "Innovator in Residence" at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is Alexander Zolotarev.

Zolotarev is founder and CEO of a website designed to give voice to the citizens of Sochi, Russia, as the construction of the 2014 Winter Olympics venues there transforms their resort town.

Zolotarev is a Fulbright scholar and associate professor of multimedia journalism at Moscow State University in Russia.

Zolotarev will work with reporting, advertising, public relations and business students as they learn how communications entrepreneurs analyze and solve problems.

MICHIGAN STATE: New Extension structure replaces county chiefs

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) – The Michigan State University Extension has started a major overhaul, trimming a layer of management and reorganizing its county-level farm education programs.

Extension Director Tom Coon says the changes started Thursday.

Coon says the extension no longer will have 82 county-level directors in five regions. Instead, local staffers will be part of 13 multi-county districts, each overseen by a coordinator.

The extension says it began to examine its work and structure early last year.

Goals of the overhaul include fielding more specialized educators, improving connections between field staff and campus researchers, and making better use of technology.

PURDUE: Late blight confirmed in Indiana tomatoes

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Plant experts at Purdue University have confirmed the presence of a damaging tomato disease in Indiana near the Kentucky line.

The university said Thursday the scientists confirmed a case of late blight, a fungus-like disease.

The infection was found in a plant sample from a home garden in Dearborn County near Kentucky. The disease damaged tomato plants in at least 30 Indiana counties in 2009, the first outbreak of late blight since 1998.

Purdue plant pathologist Dan Egel says late blight is very damaging and spreads rapidly under cool, moist conditions.

Egel says fungicides can slow late blight's spread and says all tomato growers should inspect their plants for signs of disease.

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