…And it Begins Again

8 01 2009

Like most people figured, it didn’t take long.  I got the following press release from Rep. Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) who will introduce a bill next week when the legislature convenes to ban smoking outright.

Scott pushes for statewide smoking ban

Lawmaker unveils bill to protect public health

Citing a groundswell of support from local residents and a clear public health threat to the people of Michigan, state Rep. Paul Scott today unveiled landmark legislation to ban smoking in all public places in the state.

Scott will be the first state lawmaker to introduce the legislation this session. The Legislature tried unsuccessfully last year to ban smoking in public. Scott’s bill would ban smoking in all public places, with no exceptions.

“Secondhand smoke represents a clear and present danger to all Michigan residents, especially children, and efforts must continue in Lansing to protect the public,” said Scott, R-Grand Blanc. “People overwhelmingly want this ban. I talked with thousands of local residents during the last few months and there is steadfast support for a smoking ban.”

Scott also dismissed the argument that a smoking ban would hurt businesses.

“These naysayers evidently haven’t frequented Little Joe’s in Grand Blanc on a Friday night,” Scott said. “Businesses that have voluntarily banned smoking are thriving for good reason. Michigan residents don’t want to be forced to breathe tobacco smoke when they go out in public.”

There is mounting evidence that breathing tobacco smoke is unhealthy. A study released just this week shows that heart attacks dramatically decreased in Pueblo, Colo. after the city banned smoking in public places in 2003. Hospital admissions decreased by 41 percent after the ban, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report. http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5751a1.htm

Secondhand smoke kills an estimated 46,000 nonsmokers annually from heart attacks in the United States. An estimated 150,000 to 300,000 children under 18 months of age also get pneumonia or bronchitis every year from breathing secondhand tobacco smoke, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“A statewide smoking ban would be a game changer for people’s health and well-being,” Scott said. “The jury is out when it comes to the harmful effects of smoke. Not only is secondhand smoke a threat, but now we’re learning about the harmful effects of so-called third-hand smoke.”

“Third-hand smoke” is the dangerous matter from tobacco smoke that can get into a smoker’s hair and clothing. Young people, especially infants, can be negatively affected if they come in contact with the toxins.

Scott will formally introduce the smoking ban bill next Wednesday, on the first day of session.





10 responses

8 01 2009

Great news. Hope the Legislature makes it a high priority as public health should be.

8 01 2009

Now that the new year is starting, the “new push” is returning to every state that has no ban, or a ban with ANY exemptions. Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, and their Robert J. Wood Foundation and it’s many political action committees (charites) have endless funding to keep armies of lobbyists throughout the nation employed for years to come. Their instructions are to keep returning EVERY YEAR until ALL exemptions are gone. They made the print of their book smaller to keep people from reading it, but you can CTRL and scroll to enlarge it. Here it is. http://www.no-smoke.org/pdf/CIA_Fundamentals.pdf

8 01 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

Finally! A PAC doing something productive!

9 01 2009

I expect the no-exemption bill will still have problems in the House, and the fact Rep. Scott is a Republican will not help. Andy Dillon and Detroit Democrats will still oppose it.

But I hope the issue is able to be handled better this term without the deadline pressures of lame duck.

The anti-smoking lobby opposed all exemptions until it became abundantly clear no bill would pass without them. Only then did they urge compromise. But a year and a half of saying “no amendments” allowed Sen. Alan Cropsey and other ban opponents to say “all my e-mail has been for no exemptions,” when the message had actually changed (or it was supposed to).

And every Michigan county smoking ban passed includes exemptions for tobacco shops and 20% to 25% of hotel rooms. I’m not sure why they chose to not follow that template when they went statewide.

9 01 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

I was happy to finally see a Republican support the bill as is. It makes me feel like less of a “rougue”

I’d be ok with cigar shops and a 1/4 of hotel rooms if they choose to allow some smoking. I’m still not on board with casino’s and probably never will be.

9 01 2009

There was a handful of GOP reps who supported the original bill lasty time. I understand your casino exemption opposition, but politics and money make the casinos a thorny issue. And a recession with casinos in Illinois down 20% and laying off workers still gives casino protectors some ammunition in any exemption fight.

If there ends up being no way they can get an exemption, I think they’d push for as long a phase-in as possible, and the House would probably give it to them. The casinos will get consideration of some kind from the House.

9 01 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

I get the money side of it, I just don’t like it. If casino’s get exemptions, why shouldn’t bars (bars that don’t serve any type of food)? My view is they are the same. Only adults are allowed in both types of establishments.

I lived in a town with a riverboat casino in Illinois (Peoria)…..well, the boat is actually in East Peoria, but both communities rely on the revenue they get from the boat for a major portion of their budgets. I know it’s tough right now and everyone is having trouble balancing their budgets.

My only questions, as it relates to Michigan, would be how much does Michigan make off the casino revenue? Do the Indian casino’s pay anything to the state? How much of Detroit’s budget is reliant on casino revenue?

Illinois’ problem is being so close to other casinos…in some cases, literally just across the river. From what I’ve heard, the Peoria casino didn’t lose all that much while the Moline and East St. Louis boats lost quite a bit more than 20%. The Chicago area casino’s lost more than Peoria, but not as much as the Mississippi river boats. At least in Detroit, Windsor is also smoke free so patrons can’t run across the border…they’d have to drive to Mt. Pleasant or Saginaw (?) How many people are going to do that?

9 01 2009

I can answer some of those questions, at least with ballpark figures.

According to the Michigan Gaming Newsletter, the 3 Detroit casinos generated $1.25 billion in revenue last year. Of that, MGM and MotorCity pay a 19% wagering tax. Greektown pays 24% because it is not yet considered “fully operational” — meaning, with a hotel.

So that means the three casinos paid about $253 million in taxes, of which the state gets a little less than half, the rest going to the city of Detroit. That figure doesn’t include various fees and payroll taxes at the city, state and federal level.

The Native American casinos’ tax rates are typically 8% of revenue going to the state and 2% to local comminities. I did find on Michigan.gov that the 12 recognized tribes paid $11.3 million to the state in 2007 and $17 million to local governments. (The lower state number has something to do with a lawsuit over the state violating some compacts, I think.)

So you’re looking at at least $281 million in taxes. In the case of Detroit, it is now the city’s largest employer with 10,000 workers and its only growing business. That’s why they’re so protective of it. I don’t know what budget percentage it encompasses, but it’s significant.

As for driving to Mount Pleasant, since they have billboards in Detroit, I am sure some people make the drive, even now. I do, occasionally. In addition, they have generally lower table limits.

But if a bill banning smoking in Detroit’s casinos is enacted, I am sure some smokers, at least occasionally, will go there instead of Detroit. If I want a cigar in the winter and tobacco shops/cigar bars aren’t exempted from a ban, I’ll be one of them.

Besides that, any time off a machine is lost money to the casino. That’s why Windsor put up outdoor smoking cages right off the casino floor, so they would not have to go all the way back to the parking structure. I don’t know if a Michigan smoking ban would even allow that.

The Detroit casinos do not like the idea that they pay more taxes than any Indian casino, have invested more than a billion in these properties and now could have the rules changed to put them at what they consider a competitive disadvantage.

9 01 2009
Mid-Michigan Dining

I can definitely understand the Detroit casino’s concerns. The whole tribal land thing is foreign to me. I can’t understand how in the year 2009, there can still be areas inside the United States that don’t fall under US control. That’s so wierd to me and seems to be what is holding up this whole process.

I said this in a different post, but I really don’t think it’s a matter of if but when a smoking ban passes in any state that doesn’t currently have one. The only reasons cigarrettes have not been outrighted banned is because of the money they bring local governments. I’m so glad I was never curious or peer pressured into trying it.

10 01 2009

It goes back hundreds of years and the fact the Indians were here first. And when you consider how many agreements the US government violated over the years, tribes are very touchy on anything that could lessen their self-governance. Smoking isn’t even the big issue to them.

Laws in Canada are similar. “Aboriginals” there don’t pay tobacco taxes and like in many states, make a lot of money selling cigarettes to non-Indians. Most also allow smoking in tribal casinos.

I agree a ban is inevitable in all states. Even the Detroit casinos know that. I think something will get passed this year. I just hope the Senate does not resume its posturing and has real discussions with the House. It was unlikely anything was going to get done in just a few days last month.

But tobacco will probably never be outlawed. Prohibition doesn’t work very well, and the states’ addiction to tobacco taxes means they’re happy to allow them to be sold (even if you can’t smoke them anywhere).

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