May 8, 2008

Smoking ban passes Senate

LANSING – After more than a decade of debate, a smoking ban in Michigan workplaces, including bars and restaurants, was finally approved in the Senate Thursday by a vote of 25-12.

“I would like to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for thinking of the health of patrons, workers and customers,” said Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, who has championed the issue for the past decade.

Basham moved to discharged House Bill 4163 from further consideration of the Committee on Government Operations and Reform, chaired by Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester. That passed with 27 votes.

Bishop had blocked a vote on the bill since it was introduced in January 2007, but a leading Lansing lobbying group, Public Sector Consultants, released a study last month that summarized 43 other studies and six public health reports across North America that have examined the economic and health aspects of banning workplace smoking in some form, with "the vast majority" concluding there is no net economic impact on bars and restaurants. It also included polls showing increasing public support for bans, with support even stronger after bans have been enacted. But more importantly was the position taken by PSC Senior Policy Fellow Ken Sikkema. He said the studies found food and liquor sales even increased slightly when smoking bans were instituted, and sales tended to grow more in subsequent years. Other studies found the value of restaurant properties increased after a ban was imposed.

Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, introduced an amendment to Basham’s substitute that included casinos in the smoking ban. Jansen’s amendment would make the smoking ban invalid if the Indian gamming casinos were not included. However, it violates the sovereign status of the Indian tribes, and it was defeated 25-9.

Detroit-area Senators introduced amendments to the Basham substitute to allow smoking in Detroit casinos, in fear those casinos would lose business. Those all failed. The substitute passed 24-9.

Last December, the Democratic-controlled House approved House Bill 4163 -- introduced by Rep. Brenda Clack, D-Flint -- by a vote of 56-46. The bill was referred to the Republican-controlled Senate where it was bottled up in committee.

The House now has to concur in the substitute before it goes to the governor, but that should be no problem. That is expected to happen as early as today.


Anonymous said...

Many thanks,
Robert Lemon
Plymouth Twp.

Communications guru said...

I agree, but we are not there yet. Make sure you call or email your state Representative and tell him to vote yes with no so-called “carve outs” or exceptions.