Dec 6, 2007
Smoking ban passes the House but may get butted in the Senate
The Michigan House approved a bill that bans smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants.
On Wednesday the House gave approval to House Bill 4163 - introduced by Rep. Brenda Clack, D-Flint - by a vote of 56-46. Opposition to the bill has come from powerful lobbying groups and trade associations, like the Michigan Restaurant Association, who object to the bill’s banning of smoking in bars and restaurants. They maintain that the choice to ban or not to ban smoking should be left up to the business owner, as well as claiming it will hurt business.
Exempted from the smoking ban in the bill were casino gaming floors, tobacco retailers, bingo halls, horse racing tracks, cigar bars and private residences where a business is run with the owner being the only employee.
Despite the close vote, it had bipartisan support with 10 Republicans crossing over to vote with the majority Democrats. But it also had bipartisan opposition with seven Democrats casting no votes. The bill also failed to get enough votes to give it immediate effect.
Despite the apparent victory, it’s doubtful it will become law or even taken up by the Republican controlled Senate any time soon. Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, introduced the companion bill in the Senate, Senate Bill 109, in January, and it remains stalled in committee.
In fact, Basham has been championing the smoking ban for more than 10 years, including the last five in the Senate, and he has not been able to get the bill out of committee or even to get the bill a hearing before the Committee on Economic Development and Regulatory Reform.
Proponents of the ban say that, 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.