Aug 31, 2009

The bill that will allow local municipalities to enact a workplace smoking ban is a smokescreen

The move to pass House Bill 5077 in the Michigan Legislature that will allow local municipalities to enact a workplace smoking ban, including bars and restaurants, is a huge waste of time and a smokescreen because it will not stand up in court.

Rep. Gary McDonnell, D-Rudyard, introduced the bill on June 10.The House Regulatory Reform Committee was supposed to take up the bill this week, but it was taken off the agenda.

A few years ago some local communities got tired of the Michigan Legislature not doing its job and pass something that has overwhelming support from Michigan residents, and they passed local ordinances that banned smoking. They were taken to court, and the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that a local ordinance cannot be more stringent than state law. So, even if this made it through the Senate, it will be struck down.

The Senate is already sitting on HB 4377; passed by the House with bipartisan support in May that bans smoking with the exception of casinos, and Senate Bill 114 that has no exceptions.

But, we know for sure even if the bill passed and was not struck down, Livingston County residents will not be protected from deadly secondhand smoke. The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus did a story on it, and every elected official quoted in the article said each business should make the choice.

But the simple fact is that this is not a choice issue, this is a public health issue, and the government has a duty to protect the public health. Secondhand smoke kills 3,000 Michigan residents a year and results in $2.65 billion in annual health care costs in Michigan. Secondhand smoke causes heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, breast cancer and non-fatal diseases, such as asthma, inner ear infections, major depression and other afflictions in non-smokers.

Not a single sentence in the story mentioned either the court issue or the public health damage secondhand smoke causes to the almost 80 percent of Michigan residents who do not smoke.

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