Sunday will mark the one year anniversary of the day Michigan’s popular workplace smoking ban went into effect, and a study just released by Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) shows the law did what it was supposed to do: protect bar and restaurant employees from deadly secondhand smoke.
The added bonus is that the smoking ban has not hurt business in bars and restaurants, but it has improved it. These facts, however, will not stop critics - especially the ban's biggest critic, the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) - from pushing the lie that it is harming business. The bottom line is that the law is a public health issue, and the MDCH air monitoring proves that.
The MDCH study measured the cotinine levels of 40 bar and restaurant employees working in the same bars four to six weeks before the ban went into effect on May 1, 2010 and then and 6- 10 weeks after the smoke-free law, and the results showed the level of secondhand smoke exposure decreased significantly among bar employees after the law went into effect.
"The law was passed to protect Michigan residents, employees, and visitors from the dangerous health effects secondhand smoke and our studies show that the law is doing its job," said Dr. Greg Holzman, State Chief Medical Executive. "The Surgeon General's Report released in December warned that even short-term exposure to secondhand smoke can have serious health implications for those who suffer from heart disease and respiratory conditions."
Researchers measured the levels of cotinine and NNAL - chemicals found in urine that indicates a person's level of exposure to secondhand smoke – in the 40 employees in 13 counties, and each participant also completed a respiratory and general health questionnaire. The results found cotinine levels went from an average of 35.92 nanograms per milliliters before the law to zero after. Bar employees also reported improvement in reported general health status and respiratory health, including wheezing, allergy symptoms and coughing after the law took effect.
Air monitoring studies were also conducted before and after the smoke-free law went into effect in the state's six major regions including the Southeast, West, Upper Peninsula, Northern Lower Peninsula, Thumb, and Central, and results of the air monitoring studies demonstrate a significant decrease in exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants of all participating areas to date.
In December the Department of Treasury found that overall sales tax collections in restaurants and bars were up 2.84 percent over last year, verifying that there has never been a credible study that shows a drop in business from a smoking ban. But that has not stopped pro-smoking groups like the MLBA from pushing the lie that it has, and the MLBA has a history of pushing debunked studies to try and prove that lie.
In fact, Lance Binoniemi, executive director of the MLBA, continues to push that lie, and he was quoted in the Detroit Free Press claiming that “the state is losing $1.5 million a week” without an ounce of proof. He is still pushing the effort to weaken the law to amend the law to permit so-called “smoking rooms” and smoking patios. In fact, there are three bills pending to weaken the law.
Instead of weakening the law we should strengthen the law, and it’s time smoking was banned in the casinos.