Press Release – MDCH Director Urges Smoking Ban Passage

15 12 2008

From an Michigan Department of Community Health press release –

MDCH Director Urges State Legislature to pass Smoke-Free Law

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is once again
strongly encouraging the Michigan State Legislature to pass a law
banning second hand smoking in public places including restaurants and
bars. While attempting to reach a compromise, the state Legislature
recently pondered the idea of allowing businesses to avoid the ban by
buying a special permit.

“While compromise may be needed, the state Legislature must protect
its citizens from second hand smoke,” said MDCH Director Janet
Olszewski. “Michigan needs a strong, firm, concrete law that outright
bans smoking in public places. Allowing businesses to buy their way out
of the law would be unacceptable and unfair to Michigan residents.”

Second hand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of death and
when smoking occurs in the workplace, employees find they are exposed to
cancer causing substances all day long. Research has shown that tobacco
smoke has more than 4,000 chemicals of which 60 are known carcinogens.
Contrary to popular belief, separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning
the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures to
secondhand smoke.

MDCH understands the urgency of passing a smoke-free law during the
lame duck session, which officially ends Dec. 30. The department is
asking state legislators to put aside political gamesmanship and do what
is appropriate for Michigan residents.


Smoking Ban on Last Leg

12 12 2008

I mentioned this in comments last week and I had heard some rumblings, but I was hoping it wasn’t true.  According to MIRS News this morning, the smoking ban is hinging on one thing….the ability for a business to buy their way out of it.

House Speaker Andy Dillon plans to bring the legislation up next week with an addition that would allow business to buy their way out of enforcing it.

I think this is crap.  You shouldn’t be able to buy your way out of a law.  My hope is that this will be a huge fee.  I initially said in comments nothing short of $10,000 a year, but the more I think about it, the more I tend to like the idea of 1/4 of gross receipts.  Think of the money the state could get from the Detroit casinos if they charge a 1/4 of all money taken in to the casino….not a 1/4 of profits, but a 1/4 of receipts.  That would deter most bars and restaurants from taking advantage of the buyout, but would still, probably, give the casino’s the exemption they’ve been asking for.

Illinois Casino Revenue Down…

4 12 2008

….and they’re blaming it on the smoking ban.  When you look at the numbers, it’s pretty hard to argue with that assumption.  Overall, casino revenue is down 7 percent while Illinois’ numbers are down 20.3 percent.  It’s not that attendance is down.  There’s another reason.

“Although the number of people coming to the casinos is about the same, the time they spend inside is down. They’re outside smoking. And in this business, if you’re not putting money in the machine or on the table—time is money.” (Tom Swoik, executive director of the Illinois Casino Gaming Association)

Illinois is different from Michigan in that all casino’s are effected.  There are no tribal lands in Illinois.  The problem is there are also no land based casino’s right now.  All the casino’s are old riverboats that are permanently docked, so they’re all on rivers.  The rivers are all close to the border states of Iowa, Indiana, and Missouri so in most cases, you can literally go a mile and a half across a bridge and be in a casino that allows smoking.   What the article doesn’t say is how Peoria is doing.  The Par-A-Dice Casino in East Peoria is at least an hour and a half to two hours from a smoking casino.  I’d be surprised if they saw a 20 percent drop, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Moline riverboat dropped much higher due to another boat in Davenport, IA less than a mile away.

My opinion is still that Illinois is not the problem.  The problem is the surrounding states being pansy’s and giving into the casino lobby.   They need to create a level playing field.  It’s always tough to be the first to do something.  Illinois is going to take some hits, but in the long run, they are making the right decision.  Delaware did the same thing and while their revenues dropped at first, they have recovered and are now above the pre-ban level.  It can be done.  It just takes lawmakers with some guts to make the right move.

Smoking Ban Referendum?

2 12 2008

Could it happen?  According to a story I saw on ABC 3 tonight, if the bill is not passed in the lame duck session, we could soon see it on the ballot.

If the bill doesn’t pass during the lame duck session,  health officials may not be out of luck.

A ballot initiative could be considered, but many feel that option would be too costly.

Well, we COULD see it on the ballot, but my sources say that those health officials don’t think it’s worth the money to put it on the ballot.  They believe in it, but only if they don’t have to pay for it.  Nice.

Press Release – Stopping Bottle Fraud

13 11 2008

From a press release….

Legislature begins work to stop bottle return fraud

LANSING – A bipartisan, bicameral package of legislation designed to upgrade reverse vending machines to prevent fraud from illegal bottle returns saw action this week as the bills passed out of House and Senate committees.

“Michigan is losing millions of dollars annually due to out-of-state bottles and cans being returned in exchange for the 10-cent deposit,” said bill sponsor Sen. Ron Jelinek. “In a time of economic crisis, we need to do what we can to keep this money in the state.”

In addition to committee action, a bill was introduced by Sen. Cameron Brown that would establish a fund to help reimburse the costs of the machine upgrades.

“We want to assist our manufacturers and retailers with the costs to comply with the new law,” Brown said. “As a legislator representing four counties that border two different states, I know how simple it is for redemption fraud to occur. This legislation will help bring an end to this criminal activity.” Read the rest of this entry »

Smoking Ban Round-Up

24 09 2008

I had planned on doing this last night, but most of the media in Lansing haven’t figured out the 24/7 news cycle.  I and the rest of the people in this City are still relegated getting news at 6, 10, and 11 PM then waiting for yesterday’s news to come in the form of a dead tree when we get.  Don’t get me wrong, WLAJ and WILX both had stories up last night, but I was hoping for a little more coverage with reaction from both sides.  The only place I could get that was MIRS which I’m not going to quote or link to since it’s a paid service.

The newspaper of record, The Lansing-State Journal, which is based in the state capital, doesn’t even cover the State Capitol.  The only article I could find on-line, and I had to do a keyword search to find it, was an AP article.  I’ve never lived in a town with a newspaper this bad.  It’s actually quite sad. 

Here’s what I found from two of the TV outlets and Detroit newspapers.

Read the rest of this entry »

Press Release – Harvest Gathering Kick Off

16 09 2008

From a Press Release……

18th Annual Michigan Harvest Gathering Campaign To Launch at Michigan Capitol

WHAT: The Food Bank Council of Michigan will kick-off its annual Michigan Harvest Gathering campaign on the Capitol steps on Thursday. The 2008 Michigan Harvest Gathering will run through November 12.

WHEN: Thursday Sept. 18, 2008 – 10:00 a.m.

WHERE: Front Steps of Capitol

WHO: Judge Bill Schuette, Court of Appeals,  Michigan Harvest Gathering Founder

Brian Peters, Senior Corporate Vice President Michigan Health and Hospital Association

Gordon Wenk, Deputy Director Michigan Department of Agriculture

Erica Karfonta, Manager, Gleaners Community Food Bank of Livingston County; Personal Testimony as someone who has utilized the generosities of a food pantry

State Representative John Moolenaar- Midland

Jane Marshall, Executive Director

Food Bank Council of Michigan

WHY: To raise food and funds to support the nine regional food banks in Michigan. Regional food banks provide food for agencies such as food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. This year’s goal is to raise $430,000 and 300,000 pounds of food.


Press Release – Smokefree Air Rally

12 09 2008

From a press release….

Rally at Capitol to Encourage Concurrence Vote on Smokefree Workplace Legislation
Legislators, medical experts and smokefree advocates
to speak in support of House Bill 4163

WHAT: The Campaign for Smokefree Air is hosting a rally at the Capitol to encourage Speaker Andy Dillon (D – Redford Twp.) and the House of Representatives to concur on HB 4163, which would make all work places, including restaurant and bars smokefree. Speakers will take the opportunity to tell their personal stories as well as give concrete statistics and examples as to why Michigan should be the next state to pass smokefree legislation.

WHO: Dr. Greg Holzman, Chief Medical Officer, Michigan Department of Community Health – Event Emcee
Dr. Lawrence Abramson, DO, family practice physician – Dr. Abramson currently sits on the Board of Trustees for the Michigan Osteopathic Association.
Sen. Raymond Basham (D-Taylor) – Sen. Basham has been fighting to pass smokefree legislation for more than 10 years.
Rep. Andy Meisner (D-Ferndale) – Rep. Meisner is a proponent of smokefree workplaces and a supporter of CSA.
Rep. Brenda Clack (D-Flint) – Rep. Clack has been a long time supporter of the Campaign for Smokefree Air
Dr. Ronald Davis, past president of the American Medical Association – Throughout his medical career, Dr. Davis has worked on tobacco issues for more than 30 years.
Daniel Haberman – Mr. Haberman is the owner of the Bosco bar in Ferndale, MI and a long time supporter of smokefree workplaces.
Ashley Baracy, Miss Michigan 2008 – Ashley’s mother is a five year cancer survivor and Ashley’s personal platform is breast cancer awareness.

WHEN: Tuesday Sept. 16, 2008
12:30 p.m.

WHERE: Capitol Rotunda


Smoking Ban Getting Close?

11 09 2008

I mentioned this in a comment earlier in the week, but since WLAJ did a story on it last night, I thought I’d give the topic it’s own post.  Word on the street is the House is going to vote on the “clean” version of the smoking bill sometime before the November elections.

House democrats tell us while negotiations are ongoing right now, they hope to have the reconciled version of the smoking ban signed into law by the November election.

I really would like to see a smoking ban pass, but I’m not in favor of a 100% clean bill.  The ONLY exception should be for cigar/tobacco shops.  Employees know what they’re getting in to there.  Casino’s should not be exempted and there needs to be a way to make sure Indian Casino’s aren’t exempted as well.  There’s a lawsuit working it’s way through the courts that would require Indian Casino’s to purchase liquor license.  HB 4163 should include language mandating that establishments purchasing a liquor license must be smoke free.  That way, should the courts ever decide, it would force Indian casino’s to go smoke free as well.  That will take away the so-called advantage.

On the web. HB 4163

Press Release – International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers

8 09 2008

Haven’t had a smoking ban post in a while, but I got this press release today from the International Premium Cigar and Pipe Retaliers…..out of Georigia. 

LANSING, Michigan September 8, 2008 – According to Chris McCalla,
legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers
Association, his organization has learned that the Michigan state
legislature will likely reopen debate on a proposed statewide smoking ban
based on erroneous information provided by well-funded anti-smoking forces.

Michigan’s State Representatives and Senators have been deadlocked on a
proposal for several months with each preferring their own version of such a
ban. McCalla believes the two chambers are working to approve a statewide
smoking ban by the end of this current session. Read the rest of this entry »