May 7, 2008

Action on smoking ban bill could come soon

After more than a decade of stalling and obstruction, Michigan may soon join the 33 other states that have banned smoking in workplaces.

A vote on House Bill 4163 that bans smoking in all workplaces, including bars and restaurants, could occur in the Senate as early as Thursday. The issue really picked up steam after a study released last month by Public Sector Consultants proves that smokefree laws have no negative impact on the bar and restaurant industry. The American Cancer Society has issued a mass e-mail urging supporters to contact their state Senator to ask them to pass the bill that ensures every worker and customer is able to breathe clean air.

The ACS has established a toll free number to help supporters reach their Senator. You can call 1-888-NOW-I-CAN and ask to be transferred to your senator's office to urge their support of a comprehensive smokefree workplace law that includes bars and restaurants. It’s also a good idea to contact Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop to urge him to allow the bill to move forward and to vote for the bill. He can be reached toll-free at (877) 924-7467. Bishop, at the urging of the Michigan Restaurant Association, has kept the bill bottled up in committee. It’s unclear if the bill will be discharged from Bishop’s Policy on Government Operations and Reform directly to the floor, or if it will be voted in the committee. The committee has not met this session.

Subscription only MIRS reported the Senate Republican caucus met Tuesday to talk about the bill, but no word on the outcome has leaked out.

By calling the toll-free number, an ACS representative can tell you who your state senator is and can transfer you directly to the senator's office where you can leave a message with the staff member who answers the phone. Your message can be as simple as "I am a constituent of the senator and I am asking for their support of a comprehensive smokefree law that includes bars and restaurants." Please leave a message even if you reach voicemail.

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