Legislator Wants Local Governments To Be Able to Ban Smoking

25 08 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve written about the smoking ban.  The big reason is because there’s been no movement on the statewide bill which I completely support and would rather see a ban including casinos.  There’s 14 months left in the current legislative session and most insiders don’t expect it to get any farther than it already is.

This week, Rep. Gary McDowell (D-Rudyard) is trying to introduce a bill that would allow local governments (ie. cities, villages, counties, townships, etc) to enact bans in their jurisdictions

A bill sponsored by Rep. Gary McDowell, D-Rudyard, would let each county, city, township and village decide if people can smoke in local bars and restaurants. Courts have said Michigan law allows only the Legislature to ban smoking in food establishments.

McDowell said that should be changed because he does not think lawmakers will pass a ban on their own.

“It’ll bring the debate back home, to every township and city hall,” McDowell said in an interview. “Once one community does it, it’ll start to spread across the state. It’s hard to imagine which community in Michigan would want the notoriety of being the last to allow smoking in the workplace.”

It’s not a unique move.  Most states that ban smoking do so after a number of municipalities enact local bans.  Again, my experience is with the Illinois ban.  I know several communities banned smoking before the statewide ban went into effect.  Some refused to enact a local ban preferring a statewide ban.  

I’m not a fan of these types of bans.  Especially in a city like Lansing.  You would really need Lansing, Lansing Township, Delta Township, East Lansing, and Okemos to work together and pass a ban.  All of the studies the anti-smoking ban groups use are from these local bans…not statewide bans.  I mean, yeah, if you could drive a few blocks and be able to smoke in a bar, you probably would. 

I know it sounds big brother-ish, but smoking is an issue that the government should be involved with.  You’re not just effecting your own life, you’re altering everyone’s life around you.


Press Releases – House Passes Smoking Ban..

26 05 2009

…with exemptions for cigar shops and casinos.  It’s disappointing, but not surprising.  No biggie.  I’ll just go back to Windsor. 

This first press release is from Michigan House Democrats

House Dems Pass Smoking Ban
Plan protects health of Michigan families

LANSING – House Democrats today passed legislation that would make Michigan the 37th state to ban smoking in most indoor places, including bars and restaurants. The move comes amid ever increasing evidence of the negative public health impact of secondhand smoke. The plan passed 73-31 and now heads to the Senate for approval.

“Secondhand smoke causes thousands of deaths per year that are completely preventable,” said State Representative Bert Johnson (D-Detroit). “This plan will protect our workers and families who regularly face exposure to secondhand smoke in public places, bars and restaurants.”

Secondhand smoke is classified as a Group A carcinogen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Exposure to secondhand smoke can cause or exacerbate a wide range of health problems, including cancer, respiratory infections, and asthma, according to the American Lung Association (ALA).

The ALA reports that secondhand smoke causes approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths and 46,000 heart disease deaths in adult nonsmokers in the United States each year, and that nonsmokers exposed to secondhand smoke at work are at increased risk for health problems.

“The smoking ban puts the health of our workers and families first,” said State Representative Lee Gonzales (D-Flint Township), sponsor of the plan. “By banning smoking in public places we are protecting our families and our children from inhaling this deadly smoke. Smoke-free environments will create healthier communities and save thousands of lives.”

Secondhand smoke is especially harmful to children, the ALA reports. It is responsible for up to 300,000 lower respiratory tract infections in kids under 18 months of age, resulting in up to 15,000 hospitalizations a year. It causes 430 sudden infant death syndrome deaths in the U.S. annually, the ALA reports. In addition, new evidence links increases in the number of asthma cases in children to secondhand smoke exposure.

Thirty-six states have passed laws prohibiting smoking in almost all public places and workplaces. The plan passed Tuesday exempts certain cigar bars and tobacco specialty retail stores because those businesses feature smoking as the primary source of their commerce. The plan also exempts casino floors, which would face competitive disadvantages with tribal casinos that would threaten their viability.

“Secondhand smoke causes cancer and kills people,” said State Representative Joan Bauer (D-Lansing). “This is not the time to let politics get in the way of acting to protect the public health. Each year more of our residents are falling ill and dying due to secondhand smoke; it would be irresponsible not to act quickly in passing this ban. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to take action immediately.”


This second release is from the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association.  They call it a “Job Killer”  Hey, whatever helps them sleep at night. Read the rest of this entry »

House May Vote on Smoking Ban Today

26 05 2009

I just noticed this Tweet from Rep. Barb Byrum.

I am in session….Hoping to vote on a smoking ban….soon.

Here’s a little more info from the Associated Press.  Unfortunately, I’m not going to be around tonight, so I won’t know anything until I get home from work.

The Michigan House is preparing for a possible vote on legislation that would ban smoking at most
workplaces in the state including restaurants and bars.

A vote on the legislation is likely late Tuesday. But it does not appear a compromise has been reached between the Democrat-led House and Republican-led Senate on a final version of a smoking ban that might become law.

The House is discussing legislation that as introduced would exempt Detroit casinos and tobacco shops from the ban. The Senate hasn’t taken up a smoking ban bill this year but previously backed a ban that did not include any exemptions

Smoking Ban Moves Out of Committee

20 05 2009

Well, it’s a start, but it’s set up the same as last year and they couldn’t come to an agreement then….

A House committee approved today a ban on smoking in all bars, restaurants and all other workplaces – except for Detroit’s casinos and smoke shops statewide – reigniting a debate that has smoldered for years.


House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township said he had spoken with Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, and said, “I would bet it gets done this year.”

However, Dillon said he supports a smoking ban exemption for the gambling floors of casinos only, but not the restaurants or anywhere else in the facility. Bishop said his Republican caucus supports a total ban with no exemptions.

No exemptions.  How sad is it they want to exempt casino floors that are covered with old guys in oxygen masks?  Why should casinos get exemptions but not bars and restaurants near those casinos?  Detroit’s competition is Windsor…and Windsor is smoke free.  They know that people would cross the border to gamble if the two are actually on an even playing field…hell, I’m going to Windsor this weekend…but it has more to do with smoke free than anything.

Press Release – Anti-Smoking Ban Website

14 05 2009

So the anti-smoking ban lobby takes a new tactic…at least new to me.  They’re claiming jobs will be lost near Indian casinos.  Again, I would say Prove it!  There are bars in border towns of smoke free states all over the country that butt up to a state that have yet to ban smoking.  How is that different from tribal land?  The website focuses on alcohol sales, but what it fails to take in to consideration, is overall profit.  They fail to mention if profits rise or fall after a ban for a business…they only focus on alcohol.  From a  Michigan License Beverage Association press release…

Anti-Smoking Ban Website Launched to Help Save Michigan Jobs

BanMiSmokingBan.com reveals untold story of smoking bans

LANSING, Mich. — A new website – www.BanMiSmokingBan.com – was launched today to highlight the unpublicized and damaging economic effect a smoking ban would have on Michigan businesses.

The website, launched by the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA), includes current research on the economic effects of smoking bans, recent news coverage and economic forecasts on the effect a proposed smoking ban could have on Michigan businesses and their workers.

“This website is an important way to deliver the message that 750 businesses and 7,500 workers will be kicked to the curb if lawmakers enact a smoking ban in Michigan,” said Lance Binoniemi, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association. “Some proponents of a smoking ban have worked hard to drown out the voices that will actually be affected by this legislation. That needs to change – and now.”

Bar and restaurant workers across Michigan continue to be outraged by the ongoing debate over whether Michigan should adopt a statewide smoking ban at a time when the state leads the nation with a 12 percent unemployment rate.

“Jobs are tough enough to come by in Michigan and anything that is going to cost me my customers and maybe my job should be an easy no vote for Lawmakers,” said Jamie Beachum, bartender at Dublin Square Irish Pub in East Lansing.

The hospitality industry is one of Michigan’s largest employers, providing hundreds of thousands of food-service careers and millions of dollars in payroll and business taxes to the state. Currently, more than 5,500 businesses in Michigan’s hospitality industry have already made the decision to go smoke-free – without any state mandates.

“Ask anyone in Michigan what our state needs and they will say more jobs,” said Binoniemi. “That’s why Michigan bar and restaurant owners and employees can’t understand why lawmakers would even think of passing a law that is proven to cost jobs in our industry. It just doesn’t make sense.”

Speaker Dillon Wants Movement on Smoking Ban

29 04 2009

Got this statement from House Speaker Andy Dillon today.

“As I’ve said before, we want to move the smoking ban before summer. I trust my Chairman will move the smoking ban when it is ready.”


Press Release – MLBA Uses Nevada Law to Make Point

23 04 2009

Should we blame the lack of auto sales on a smoking ban too?  Should we blame foreclosures on the smoking ban?  Everyone is losing business right now and it’s not because of a smoking ban.   I don’t agree with the following press release, but it is worth discussion.

From a Michgan Licensed Beverage Association….

Michigan Bars and Restaurants Point

to New Trend on Smoking Bans

Nevada Senate’s recent vote shows economic impact too much for some states

 LANSING, Mich. — Nevada lawmakers did an about-face late last week introducing legislation that modifies Nevada’s 2007 Clean Indoor Air Act to allow smoking in taverns that restrict patrons under the age of 21.  

The vote was a direct result of Nevada’s struggling hospitality industry – 21,000 jobs lost in the past year – and a 30 percent drop-off in video poker gaming revenues, which account for a significant source of revenue for the state.

“Michigan lawmakers should take a good look at what Nevada lawmakers are going through right now to try to save their hospitality industry,” said Lance Binoniemi, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA). “We have clearly stated any smoking ban will directly threaten at least 7,500 Michigan jobs and we will continue to fight to keep these jobs safe.”  

According to the Nevada Tavern Owners Association, gaming revenues plummeted due to patrons leaving to gamble at local casinos, which were exempt from Nevada’s smoking ban.

According to the Michigan Bureau of State Lottery 2008 annual report, bar games (Club Keno and Pull Tabs) accounted for 23 percent of total ticket sales or $564 million. More than 31 percent of total ticket sales are designated for the state’s School Aid Fund.

“Nevada’s situation is a perfect example of the economic damage that could happen in Michigan if any smoking ban is passed,” said Binoniemi. “With double-digit unemployment and our hospitality industry already struggling, passing a law that is proven to close businesses and cost jobs is unjustifiable.”

Testifying in front of the House Regulatory Reform Committee last month, casino officials estimated a statewide smoking ban that included casinos would result in a 22 percent drop in gaming, resulting in 400 immediate jobs lost. This testimony came one week after the MLBA testified that any Michigan smoking ban would threaten at least 7,500 hospitality jobs

Press Release – Joan Bauer Comments on Hunter’s Bill

22 04 2009

From a House Democrats press release –

Bauer Joins the Fight for Smoke Free Air by 2010

Legislation would put smoke-free workplace in the hands of voters

LANSING – The Michigan State Senate today introduced a plan that will place the smoke-free workplace issue on the statewide ballot for Michigan voters to consider in 2010.

If approved by both chambers, Senate Bill 469 would ask state voters to decide the fate of an issue that has been debated in the legislature for more than a decade. The bill, introduced by State Senator Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) is comprehensive in its definition of workplaces, and includes restaurants, bars, tobacco specialty shops and casinos.

“I am confident that Michigan voters will embrace smoke-free air legislation,” said State Representative Joan Bauer (D-Lansing). “I would hope that my colleagues and I can take the proper steps to protect workers before the November 2010 election season by passing HB 4341, which I introduced earlier this year.”

Michigan voters on have been polled on smoke-free workplaces three times in the past five years and each poll has shown consistent support for the issue at or above 66 percent.


Press Release – Senator Proposes Referendum on Smoking Ban

22 04 2009

Here’s a new twist.  Senator Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) is proposing putting the smoking ban on the 2010 ballot.  This seems, to me, a drastic change from what the Detroit contigency has been saying about the ban.  I would be willing to bet that IF this question makes it to the ballot, it would pass overwhelmingly….so for that reason, I wouldn’t expect it to make it out of either chamber.

Hunter Introduces Bill to Put Smokefree Workplace Issue on the Statewide BallotBill would create ballot proposal to let voters–not special interests–decide if workplaces should go smokefree


LANSING- Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) introduced a bill today that would put the issue of smokefree workplaces on the 2010 statewide ballot. Under this legislation, the ballot proposal would call for all worksites to be smokefree and not include exemptions for restaurants, bars, or casinos.

“For the past 10 years, the Legislature has tried and failed to pass a smokefree worksite bill that would protect our citizens from smoking-related diseases,” said Sen. Hunter. “Instead of continuing to argue about exemptions and concessions, we need to go to the voters and let them decide what is best for Michigan.”

Data from the New York City Department of Finance shows that tax receipts increased by 8.7 percent, or approximately $1.4 million, after the city went smokefree. Between March 2003, when the city went smokefree, and December 2003 there were 10,600 new jobs in its bars and restaurants. Florida saw similar results, and reported that retail receipts for taverns and bars that served food remain unaffected by its smokefree law.

“For my entire legislative career, I have fought on behalf of a majority of Michigan’s citizens who feel Michigan workplaces should be smokefree, only to have my concerns fall on deaf ears or be drowned out by special interests,” said Sen. Ray Basham (D-Taylor), a cosponsor of the bill and longtime advocate for smokefree workplaces. “I had hoped to protect the health of Michigan workers through state legislation, but I am confident that if we let the people of Michigan decide at the ballot box, we can finally move Michigan forward on this issue.”

Recent studies show that nearly 2/3 of Michigan voters support a workplace ban that includes bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, Michigan remains one of the 15 states left that has yet to pass legislation to create smokefree workplaces. Thirty-five states have already passed similar legislation to protect their workers form deadly exposure to secondhand smoke, including Ohio, Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.

Press Release – Michigan Voters Support Smoking Ban

30 03 2009

This is from a Campaign for Smoke Free Michigan press release.  I’m always a little skeptical of organizations that release “poll numbers” that favor their position.  I’m not saying they did, but they could have conducted this “survey” a hundred times until they got the results they wanted.

Michigan voters support smokefree air
New poll shows overwhelming support for smokefree legislation

LANSING, Mich. – A new poll released today by the Campaign for Smokefree Air (CSA) shows an
overwhelming majority of voters are supportive of legislation to make worksites in Michigan smokefree.
Sixty-six percent — two-thirds of those interviewed — favored smokefree workplace legislation, including 52 percent who “strongly favor” it. When asked specifically about legislation including making casinos smokefree, two-thirds, or 64 percent, were in favor of including casinos in the legislation. The numbers are consistent with the poll CSA conducted in 2005 of Michigan voters.

Support for a smokefree law crosses party lines, as 73 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of independents and 62 percent of Republicans say they favor smokefree legislation that includes restaurants, bars, and casinos.

“Smokefree air is not a political issue – it’s a public health issue that will improve the economy of our state and keep all workers from having to inhale secondhand smoke in the workplace,” said Susan Schechter, spokesperson for CSA and advocacy director for the American Lung Association. “We’re hoping that legislators will take this information seriously and listen to what Michigan residents want and pass legislation – with no exemptions.” Read the rest of this entry »