By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Feb 23, 2006 at 5:21 AM

In the 2003 Wisconsin Tobacco Survey 94 percent of the 8,000 people interviewed agreed that breathing smoke from someone else's cigarette is harmful, and 88 percent of smokers agreed that secondhand smoke is harmful.

"We believe that there is a growing awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke and that smoking in public places and workplaces is no longer accepted as it once was," says American Cancer Society policy analyst Cathy Peters. "Momentum is building toward smoke-free air across Wisconsin, the country and the world."

In Milwaukee, specifically, the Wisconsin Ethnic Network Collaborative (WENC) has initiated the Smoke-Free Milwaukee Project (SFMP) -- a citywide effort to protect all Milwaukee workers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

"The American Cancer Society has been a supporting organization of the Smoke-Free Milwaukee Project since it's inception," says Peters. "Ald. Joe Davis introduced his smoke-free ordinance proposal back in July of last year."

On Tuesday, Feb. 28, the Smoke-Free Milwaukee Project, along with the American Lung Association of Wisconsin, the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society, sponsors the Entertainers for a Smoke-Free Milwaukee event at City Hall.

The event starts at 8 a.m. and features music entertainment until 5 p.m. with a 12:30 p.m. press conference led by the Smoke-Free Milwaukee Project and the Black Health Coalition.

“This event will illuminate the fact that many people, from different walks of life, in the service and entertainment industry, are concerned about their health and the health of others that is involuntarily affected by secondhand smoke,” says Dr. Patricia McManus, spokesperson for the SFMP and the executive director of the Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin. “As the date approaches for the first public hearing for the community to voice their concerns about this urgent health matter, many are stepping forward now as concerned citizens and casting their vote for a smoke free Milwaukee.”

The musical lineup:
8-9 a.m. -- Olusegun Sijuwade
9:30-10:30 a.m. -- Cache
11 a.m.-12 p.m. -- Scorcher Family
12:30-1 p.m. -- Press conference
1-2 p.m. -- David Brady
2:30-3:30 p.m. -- Pam Duronio & Tim Stemper
4-5 p.m. -- Ataya.

According to Peters, there are over 2,000 communities across the country with local smoke-free laws, including other Midwestern cities such as St. Paul, Minneapolis, Chicago and Springfield. Local governments in Wisconsin have already enacted 24 smoke-free ordinances and 2,129 municipalities in the U.S. have local laws in effect that restrict where smoking is allowed. Major metropolitan areas including Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, Miami, Minneapolis and Dallas have already passed smoke-free laws, and many more are in progress.

The Smoke-Free Milwaukee public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on March 2 at City Hall. The Public Safety Committee will gather citizen input before voting on the smoke-free ordinance at the close of the hearing. The Smoke-Free Milwaukee Project's Web site is

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”