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.