Jun 25, 2007

Anti-workplace smoking bill gets second committee hearing

The House Commerce Committee will hear testimony today, Tuesday, on House Bill 4163, introduced by Rep. Brenda Clack, D-Flint that will ban smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

This is the House version of Senate Bill 109 that Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, has been trying to get passed his entire decade in the state Legislature, but he has only been able to get just one hearing on the bill and no vote in that entire time because the Republicans controlled first the House and now the Senate. Powerful lobbying groups and trade associations, like the Michigan Restaurant have convinced the Republicans not to give the bill a hearing, despite mounting evidence of the harmful effects of second-hand smoke that kills 50,000 people a year.

The Democrats now control the House, and two weeks ago Clack’s bill got a hearing in front of the Commerce Committee, chaired by Rep. Andy Meisner, D-Ferndale. The crowd was so large two weeks ago that a second committee room had to be set up to accommodate the overflow, and so many people wanted to testify that Meisner adjourned the hearing until Tuesday.

The hearing starts at 9 a.m., and it’s the only bill on the agenda. Democrats expect a vote to be taken to send the bill out of committee Tuesday. If you can’t make it to Lansing Tuesday to catch the hearing you can watch the hearing on House TV on the House web site. It was a very lively hearing, and it’s much better than any reality show on TV simply because it is true reality.

According to the U.S. The Surgeon General, second-hand smoke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 50,000 annually, and there is no amount of safe second-hand smoke. In addition to the 50,000 deaths caused by the more than 4,000 chemical compounds found in second hand smoke, many toxic, it also causes more than 790,000 doctor visits a year for non-fatal diseases, such as asthma, inner ear infections and other afflictions. Second-hand smoke is the single, greatest environmental hazard most people will ever face.

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