Jun 20, 2008
Smokefree proponents push to get ban in place before election break
LANSING – With just one week left in the Michigan legislative session before the summer break, proponents of the workplace smoking ban, including bars and restaurants, are making one last big push to get a clean smoking bill to the Governor.
The Campaign for Smokefree Air placed print ads in the state’s largest circulation newspapers urging lawmakers to pass a clean smoking bill that has no exceptions or so-called "carve outs." They are also urging members to contact their legislator, as well as House Speaker Andy Dillon, to urge them to act.
As you recall, the Senate passed House Bill 4163 in May that had no exceptions. But the House punted and passed a vehicle bill, HB 5074, that banned smoking in workplaces with exceptions, including non-Native American casinos, bingo-halls and so-called “cigar bars.” The House still has 4163 to act on, and supporters are asking the House act on that bill. The Senate has also not indicated if it will act on HB 5074.
The Senate was spurred into action in May after sitting on the bill for months by a report by the leading Lansing research firm Public Sector Consultants Inc. called “Smokefree workplaces: The Impact of House Bill 4163 on the Restaurant and Bar Industry in Michigan” that concluded there is no net economic impact on bars and restaurants.
The coalition is also saying the same thing for casinos. According to statistics provided by Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, a year after Delaware implemented comprehensive smokefree legislation, state revenue from gaming increased by 3 percent to $5.7 million. According to the California Board of Equalization, California’s bars, casinos and gambling clubs continue to profit since going smoke free in 1998, and sales increased from $8.64 billon in 1997 to $11.3 billon in 2002. Since the Massachusetts smokefree law went into effect, net keno sales have increased $121,000 per year.
Casinos that are not smokefree have up to 50 times more cancer-causing particles in the air than highways and city streets jammed with diesel trucks in rush hour traffic. A recent study of 17,000 gamblers in Las Vegas found that four out of five gamblers do not smoke. No one can explain how one in five people can carry so much weight and have so much more money than the rest of us.
The decision to create the carve outs came out of fear that the three Detroit casinos will lose business to the Native Americans casinos that do not have to ban smoking. Again, no one has explained how such as small group – only 21 percent of the state’s population smokes – control so much money or why they have so much power. It also makes no sense that with gas costing more than $4 per gallon, why any sane person would drive 160 miles – the distance from the Detroit casino – to the nearest Native American casino just to smoke a cigarette. It is easier to drive to Windsor where casinos are smoke free, and many people do so, in spite of the congested Ambassador Bridge and the passport hassles.
To contact your state Representative, go to www.house.mi.gov to find your representative’s email, fax or mailing address, and a mass email to supporters are urging them to send the ad as an attachment. You can also call the American Cancer Society at 1-888-NOW-I-CAN today and ask to be transferred directly to your state Representative.