May 21, 2009

Is the MLBA director selling booze, smokes or BS?

LANSING -- Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) executive director Lance Binoniemi appears to be selling cigarettes instead of booze, based on his press release Wednesday after the House Regulatory Reform Committee reported out House Bill 4377 that bans smoking in some workplaces, including bars and restaurants.

“Lawmakers just took the first step toward handing pink slips to nearly 7,500 Michigan workers,” he said “Last time I checked, picking and choosing what businesses will fail in Michigan is not in our lawmakers’ job description.”

No, but what is in their job description is protecting the public health, and that’s what this issue is about. Secondhand smoke kills and causes countless health problems, and that’s the primary mover behind this: protecting the health of the 80 percent of the population who do not smoke. In fact, Article IV Section 51 of the Michigan Constitution says about the duties of the Legislature, “The public health and general welfare of the people of the state are herby declared to be matters of primary public concern.”

The MLBA has been using debunked studies to make the false claim that bars and restaurants will lose business when the smoking is enacted. That defies logic and the facts. Michigan is one of only 13 states without a smoking ban, and just this week the Tobacco Road states of North Carolina and Virginia enacted a smoking ban.

Binoniemi makes the false claim that in addition to costing jobs, the bill will reduce tobacco tax revenue by $27.5 million on a full-year basis. So once again, Mr. Binoniemi, are you selling booze or tobacco? I’m still waiting for the answer to how 20 percent of the population can have such a huge impact on the economy?

There is no creditable study that says there will be a job loss with a smoking ban.
The money saved by the state will more than make up for the loss of sales lost by s drop in the sale of cigarettes. Smoking is literally sucking the air out of Michigan’s economy. Smoking directly results in $2.65 billion in annual health care costs in Michigan, of which $881 million is born by the state Medicaid program. In fact, each household spends $597 annually in state and federal taxes due to smoking-caused government expenditures. Smoke-free worksites would eliminate these extra health care costs and would do so with virtually no implementation costs.

“It’s outrageous that our lawmakers turned their backs on Michigan’s small businesses at a time when they need it the most,” Binoniemi said. “House Bill 4377 is a job killer, plain and simple. I just hope other members of the House will be willing to protect the hundreds of businesses and thousands of Michigan workers that were forgotten today.”

No, Mr. Binoniemi, secondhand smoke is a killer and you re turning your back on employees who have to make a choice between their health and a paycheck.

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