A boycott of the Michigan lottery by a few misguided bar owners last month failed, so they are trying it again this Saturday, July 10.
The billons of dollars the tobacco industry has spent over the years to convince smokers that they have some constitutional right to smoke and poison the majority of non-smokers with deadly secondhand smoke continues to pay off.
Just like the June 19 attempt at a boycott, a mall group of bar owners is claiming that 22 percent of the people who still smoke in Michigan is having an effect on their business, despite studies and the results of bars and restaurants that are doing a booming business after the May 1 workplace smoking ban went into effect and numerous studies and results from the 38 other states with bans.
Like last month, a few bar owners will refuse to sell Michigan Lottery games from 11 a.m. Saturday, July 10 to 2 a.m. July 11. Like last month, they have a Facebook page full of lies, and they say they will not sell “Keno, pull tabs, Lucky Lines, Daily 3 and 4, Fantasy 5, and Classic Lotto.”
Those lies have extended to the Detroit News. Why they are giving this small minority so much free, earned media is beyond me. They should sell them an ad because the majority of Michigan residents support the workplace smoking ban.
According to the Detroit News, “A group called “Protect Private Property Rights in Michigan -- Amend the Michigan Smoking Ban” is calling for a second boycott of the lottery in bars across the state to “send a message to legislators about a law they say is keeping customers away.”
Not true. Bars and restaurants are doing fine. No one can tell me how less than 22 percent can have so much of an effect on business.
It also says, “the first boycott was June 19 and was for only a few hours. This weekend's boycott is all day Saturday and Sunday just like it was on June 19. The hours are identical.
Apparently, Beverly Hills resident Steve Mace is their spokesman. You may remember him from the American Legion Post in Royal Oak where he claimed “their reading of the state bill prohibiting smoking in public areas and workplaces such as restaurants and bars does not apply to private clubs.” He was behind a petition drive to exempt veteran’s clubs from the law.
"We're not promoting cigarette use -- ban smoking on a street corner, not in an adult-only establishment," said group spokesman Steve Mace.
That is stunningly inaccurate. Of course he’s promoting cigarette use. Non-smokers drink just as much as smokers, and my experience when I was a smoker was that when I was in a bar, my smoking rate doubled, at least, but my alcohol intake stayed the same as when I quit smoking. Smoke all you want on the street corner where deadly secondhand smoke is not harming the health of the 80 percent who do not smoke.
That’s just one of many false claims by these people. Last month they claimed the ridiculous boycott would cost the state lottery “between $12 million and $18 million in sales.” After the boycott, they were very silent. Now, they told the Detroit News, an “estimated 515 establishments joined the first boycott, based on e-mail and phone requests for protest fliers, and expects nearly 600 this time.”
The numbers simply do not bear that out, and they are again caught in a lie.
In fact, Lottery spokeswoman Andi Brancato said “about 220 retailers -- 2 percent of all Michigan lottery vendors -- turned off their lottery machines June 19 and revenue losses amounted to about $125,700.” That’s a far cry from 515 retailers and $12 million. The good news is that Brancato said “bars participating in both boycotts may face suspension or revocation of their licenses.” Good.
The Facebook page announcing the event has even more lies, like the one that says, “ JOBS ARE BEING LOST. BUSINESSES ARE CUTTING HOURS!! SOME ARE ALREADY UP FOR SALE!”
Not from the smoking ban.
Then there is this lie that it will not hurt Michigan public schools:
“**The Michigan Lottery's contributions to schools are so minimal, don't buy into that line. No one really knows where the money goes and they're not saying. YOUR TAX DOLLARS PAY FOR SCHOOLS.”
Again, not true. The Michigan Lottery has contributed $15.2 billion to Michigan's educational system since 1972, including more than $600 million in 10 of the past 12 fiscal years. Almost all of the money, 95 percent to be exact, goes to fund K-12 public education, and the rest goes to overhead and the pots. Unfortunately, lottery money only makes up 5 percent of the $12.8 billon K-12 budget. The required annual report makes it very clear where the money goes.
So even if you are not a fan of the lottery or gambling, stop by on Saturday and pluck a dollar down on Keno, pull tabs, Lucky Lines, Daily 3 and 4, Fantasy 5 or Classic Lotto to help Michigan’s health and public schools. You can always give the ticket to a friend or relative.