Apr 6, 2010

Oakland County will not enforce popular workplace smoking ban

Apparently, Republican Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson is taking a page from the teabagger playbook and is invoking the rejected theory called Nullification.

After a decade long struggle and widespread support, Michigan’s workplace smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants was signed into law last December and goes into effect in less than a month on May 1, but Oakland County says it will not participate or comply. In a story in the Detroit News on Monday, Kathy Forzley, manager of the Oakland County Health Division, said if the county hears a business isn't conforming, "Complaints will be referred back to the state."

Wow. Thanks for protecting the public from deadly secondhand smoke, Ms. Forzley.

It’s not difficult to enforce the ban, and the Michigan Department of Community Health has put out guidelines. Local health departments inspect restaurants quarterly for cleanliness and health violations, and if a bar or restaurant does not enforce the ban they lose their liquor license or they cannot serve food. Individuals or a business can be ticketed for violating the law, with fines of up to $100 for a first offense and up to $500 for additional offenses. Establishments that continue to break the law could ultimately lose their licenses, according to the DT.

“Health department officials in Wayne and Macomb counties said they will enforce the smoking ban along with their regular restaurant inspection programs.” Why Oakland refuses is a mystery.

The Detroit News article goes on to quote Andy Deloney, vice president of public affairs for the Michigan Restaurant Association, who threw up every roadblock to kill the bill, including debunked studies, even though most of his members supported the ban.

Lawmakers "didn't see the mountain of ice underneath the surface of the water," Deloney said. "Where do the signs have to be posted? What about charity dinners? What about smokeless tobacco? That's just a tip of the iceberg."

Really, that’s all you have to try and kill a law that has not even gone into effect yet, Mr. Deloney? Those questions are easily answered. “According to the state: Signs must be posted at the entrances and exits of businesses and anywhere smoking is banned; smoking would not be allowed at charity dinners, and smokeless tobacco is included in the law's definition of tobacco products. “

Opponents have clung to the debunked notation that somehow less than 25 percent of the population that still smokes will somehow hurt business, but that has never been the case. Numerous studies, as well as the results from the 37 other states with smoking bans, prove that.

In the same edition, the Detroit News has a story with the headline “Restaurants in smoke-free states report no harsh impact.”
Here are some highlights:

“When Ohio adopted its ban in 2006, "there was a lot of concern that (bar and restaurant owners) would lose business, but none of our members have said that the ban has impacted them negatively," said Jarrod Claybaugh of the Ohio Restaurant Association. “

“In Chicago, which banned smoking in 2005, the restaurant business is strong, said Fabian Martinez, a manager at Giordano's pizzeria.”

“New York City, among the first municipalities to prohibit smoking in 2003, is thriving as a bona fide smoke-free zone.”

Call the Oakland County Health Department at (248) 858-1280 and tell them to do their job of protecting the public health.


Michael J. McFadden said...

Guru, if you carefully read the article you quote you'll find that it looks very much like it's little more than a press-release put out by an antismoking group.

Do you think it's likely that the reporter actually called the manager of a pizzeria for an evaluation of the strength of the restaurant business throughout Chicago?

And then went on to call a manager of Sullivan's Steakhouse in Omaha to get a confirmation that all the bars and restaurants in Nebraska are "faring well" with their ban?

Take a look at my commentaries after Jacob Grier's column at:


to see how the research and news on this topic has been twisted. If you can find a way to defend what was done by the researchers in this flagship study supposedly proving that "Bans don't hurt bar AND restaurant employment" please do so.

Otherwise just think of how twisted the rest of the stories and statistics you see are likely to be.

In terms of identity, I am always open about who I am and what my competing interest might be claimed to be, and I always do my best to check back for substantive criticisms: I stand behind what I write.

Michael J. McFadden,
Author of "Dissecting Antismokers' Brains"

Communications guru said...

I did “carefully read the article,” and yes I believe “ the reporter actually called the manager of a pizzeria for an evaluation of the strength of the restaurant business throughout Chicago.”

The fact is peer reviewed study after peer reviewed study and the results from the 37 other smoke free stats as well as entire countries confirm that a workplace smoking ban does not hurt business. No one can explain how just 22 percent of the population can have such an effect on a business.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Thanks for the response Guru! Check the funding for the "study after study" that you cite as existing and supporting the "no economic harm" results. I notice you had no comment on the one study of that type that I *have* carefully analyzed and referenced in my post above (the Grier reference): the Klein study. Please DO read that analysis and see if you can defend it... and if you can't, then consider how many of the other studies you're depending on for your view may be no better.

Meanwhile, you should be aware that once you move away from studies funded by groups dedicated to producing only research supporting smoking bans that the picture changes quite a bit. Check out the studies at:


and you'll see what I mean. You might also find the analysis of Minnesota's charitable gambling income as relates to smoking bans enlightening. See page 18 of the "New Stiletto" at:


for a quick one page analysis and feel free to criticize it.