UPDATE: Commission votes against proposed alcohol and tobacco ad - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Commission votes against proposed alcohol and tobacco advertising restrictions in Lodi

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LODI (WKOW) -- Lodi's city planning commission voted unanimously Tuesday night to recommend the city council not adopt a proposed ordinance that would restrict alcohol and tobacco advertisements.

The goal of the ordinance is to keep these advertisements away from children so they would less likely to use them in the future. City leaders who support the idea say it would help to eliminate the growing culture of binge drinking in Southern Wisconsin.

More than 20 community members spoke during a public hearing for the ordinance Tuesday night. A vast majority of the speakers were opposed to it.

"If you do pass this ordinance you should put up signs on all four entrances of the city. Welcome to Lodi. No business is welcome. That's what this ordinance is going to be like," bar and restaurant owner Bill Hamre says.

Community members in Lodi weren't shy about voicing their concerns about the new ordinance. Many argued it would be an unfair burden on local business owners and wouldn't deter teenagers from using alcohol and tobacco products.

"We gotta make a living and you're making it harder and harder everyday," one community member said during the public hearing.

The proposed ordinance would require all alcohol and tobacco advertisements to be at least 500 feet from schools, parks, libraries, recreation centers and childcare facilities. The ordinance would also prohibit alcohol and tobacco advertising on banners, fuel pumps and exterior illuminated signs. Neon signs that are inside bars and restaurants, however would still be allowed. The ordinance would only affect new signs. Current signs in the city would be grandfathered in.

The idea came from Lodi Mayor Paul Fisk who wants to start a conversation about changing the excessive drinking culture in Wisconsin.

"It's an attempt to start the process of changing that culture, changing that environment," Fisk says.

He argues that decreasing the amount of advertising will help teenagers make healthier and more informed choices.

"I'm not against alcohol use in moderation. When people start getting their 6th and 7th OWI's, that's excessive. That's where the extra costs for a community start to come in," Fisk says.

While the majority of speakers were against the ordinance, a select few were in favor of shielding teenagers from alcohol and tobacco advertisements.

"We conducted a survey and 31.4% of our high schoolers say they have had alcohol in the last 30 days," Community Action Team member Steven Ricks says. "More than 3% of them said they had more than 40 drinks in the last month."
In the end, the city planning commission voted unanimously to recommend the city council not adopt the new ordinance. Members were concerned it would violate the first amendment and would harm the local economy.

During the public comment period two city council members stated that they were also against the ordinance. The council will take up the idea during their next meeting. The Tavern League of Wisconsin says the proposed ordinance would have been the first in the state to restrict alcohol advertising. Other states in the country have adopted similar measures.


LODI (WKOW) -- The City of Lodi is looking to get the public's input tonight on proposed ordinances that restrict alcohol and tobacco advertisements.

Mayor Paul Fisk is championing these proposed ordinances that he says will create a healthy environment and curb underage drinking.

One of those proposed ordinances would prohibit alcohol and tobacco advertising on banners and fuel pumps. It would also prohibit that kind of advertising within 500 feet of a school, playground, park, recreation center or facility, child care center or library. The ads can also not be visible from those locations.

Another ordinance would prohibit exterior illuminated signs, like neon signs, advertising alcohol or tobacco products. Fisk said businesses would still be allowed to have illuminated signs inside that can be seen from the outside.

A public hearing on the ordinances is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Fisk said he believes this will help start a healthy debate on the issues.

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