Nov 11, 2010

Supporters of smoking ban kill attempt to weaken it

LANSING -- The members of the Tobacco Free Michigan Coalition proved that calls, letters and emails to their lawmakers work.

On Wednesday the House Regulatory Reform Committee met to stealthy take up House Bill 5803 that would have rolled back the hard fought and hard won workplace smoking ban. The coalition somehow learned that this bill would be taken up, and it urged its members with an email alert late Tuesday evening to contact the members of the committee and tell them not to take up this bill.

When I got to the hearing room at noon on Wednesday, it was packed with supporters of the ban and apparently bar owners. The agenda, even on the day of the hearing, simply said "Agenda to be announced." every committee meeting I have ever seen has the bills listed it will consider, and at the bottom is the throw away line that says "any other matters to come before the committee."

Obviously, the bill sponsor, Rep. Doug Geiss, D-Taylor, knew the bill was going to be taken up because he packed the room with bar owners. Fortunately, the supporters of the ban found out about it and derailed it.

As soon as the meeting began, the committee chair said he knew that so many people were here for the smoking issue, but he was not going to take up the bill. With that, Geiss got up and left, followed by the entire right side of the room.

Since I had no idea what they were taking up, I followed them. There was not room in the first elevator, so as I waited for second, elevator, I listened, with clinched teeth, as they vented with the same old debunked crap.

Once in the lobby of the House Office Building, Geiss was huddled with the bar owners. This bears watching, but I see little chance of it getting traction with just three session days left, at least in the Senate.


K. said...

See what happens when you organize? You don't even need corporate contributions!

If Ireland can ban smoking in pubs, so can anyone else. The ban there has resulted in 1/3 drop in tobacco consumption, not to mention a more enjoyable pub scene. Even smokers have told me that they prefer it.

Communications guru said...

I agree, but from what I saw, the other side is organized, too. Not only Ireland, but many third world countries where the smoking rate is the highest have baned smoking indoors.