Thursday, December 10, 2009


Today, December 10, 2009, the Senate passed and the House concurred with HB 4377 which bans smoking in most public places statewide. It is currently on its way to Governor Granholm’s desk to be signed into law.

Here are some of the high (and low) lights of this historic legislation:
· The bill’s official title is “The Dr. Ron Davis Act of 2009”
· Under this legislation, ALL BARS AND RESTAURANTS will be non-smoking.
· The effective date is May 1, 2010
· The labor union exemption that was included in the original version of this bill has been stripped out!
· Tobacco specialty stores may be exempted provided they meet the following requirements:
o Their primary purpose must be the retail sale of tobacco products and smoking paraphernalia.
o Owners must prove that the store generated 75% or more of its total gross annual income from the on-site sale of tobacco products and smoking paraphernalia (meaning online sales DO NOT COUNT).
o This does NOT include any establishment with any type of liquor, food, or restaurant license. Translation: 95% of the hookah bars will have a choice – “Get rid of your food license or get rid of the hookah.”
· Cigar bars may be exempted provided they meet the following requirements:
o They must be in existence on May 1, 2010.
o Cigar bars MUST have an installed on-site humidor.
o Owners must file an affidavit proving that the cigar bar generated 10% or more of its total gross annual income from the on-site sale of cigars and the rental of on-site humidors.
o The smoking area must be physically separated and enclosed on all sides from any non-smoking areas.
o The cigar bar prohibits the smoking of all other tobacco products (no hookah, no pipes, no cigarettes, etc).
o The cigar bar allows only the smoking of cigars on the premises that retail for over $1.00 per cigar (none of those cigarettes masquerading as “little cigars”).
o You must purchase the cigar on the premises if you’d like to smoke in the cigar bar.
· Casinos are partially exempted
o Only the gaming floors of casinos are exempted.
o All bars and restaurants that are in or are part of a casino may not allow smoking.
· This bill passed 24-13 in the Senate and 75-30 in the House.

Although we would have preferred a comprehensive bill without exemptions, this is still a very well written bill and will protect a majority of Michigan’s workers from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

More importantly, this legislation passed because of YOUR EFFORTS. It was your tireless phone calls, visits to legislators, emails, and letters that kept the pressure up and ultimately got this passed. Enjoy this moment! We still have some work ahead of us, but are more than halfway there. We will be in touch in the near future with next steps.

Thank you, all of you, again. Now, go celebrate!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Act Now or Forever Hold Your Breath: Great American Smoke Out!

Tomorrow, November 19th is the American Cancer Society's 34th Great American Smokeout. You can celebrate by calling on lawmakers to get the smoke out of Michigan with the passage of a comprehensive smokefree law.

It's time to Act Now or Forever Hold Your Breath!

Email your Senator and Representative to tell them you want a comprehensive smokefree bill passed NOW.

Or give them a call directly. Call 888-NOW-I-CAN to be transferred directly to your lawmaker's office.

The Great American Smokeout began more than 30 years ago as a platform to encourage smokers to quit. Since then, the platform has expanded to not only encourage smokers to make a plan to quit, but also to encourage all Americans to advocate for comprehensive smokefree laws that help protect workers and patrons from exposure to secondhand smoke.

Today, more than 70 percent of the United States population is covered by 100 percent smokefree workplace laws, despite aggressive efforts by tobacco companies to defeat such laws. Please take action today.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week 4: The Writing is on the Wall


The "Writing is on the Wall" for our state legislators. It's time for Michigan to be smokefree!

This week, we're using Facebook to get our message across. Did you know many Michigan legislators have their own Facebook pages?

We need you to take action by posting a positive message on your lawmaker's wall or sending it directly to them via private message. When communicating with your lawmaker please be respectful but most importantly, let them know you want a comprehensive smokefree bill passed today!

Not a Facebook user? You can still take action by calling your legislators!

Tobacco Free Michigan has its own Facebook page. Become a "fan" here:

Here is what you can do in addition to posting on your legislator's page:

  • Make sure all of your Facebook friends know about our page and encourage them to become a fan.

  • Find your legislator and get "connected" with him or her today. If you don't know who your legislator is, go here: or here:

  • Share our Facebook messages and alerts with your friends and post them in your news feed

  • Visit the Campaign for Smokefree Air page, save the logo, and make it your profile picture for the week

As always, we want to hear from you. Once you've taken action, leave a comment on the Act Now! blog at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


It’s pretty scary…

In the year since our lawmakers failed to pass a comprehensive smokefree bill, another 16,000 of our Michigan kids became regular, daily smokers. Don’t let our lawmakers fall for tobacco industry “tricks.” The Legislature can give our kids a real “treat” this year by passing a comprehensive smokefree bill.


This week, we want you to CALL your Senators and Representatives and tell them you want a comprehensive smokefree law NOW!

Teens who work in smokefree worksites are 25% less likely to smoke than those who work in places without smoking restrictions.

We want to hear from you. Once you've taken action visit our "Act Now or Forever Hold Your Breath" Campaign blog and leave a comment telling us what you've done!

Let’s have our kids collecting candy instead of cancer this year…

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Take a look at this picture:

Something is not right. Michigan is one of the “unlucky 13” states that still does not protect its residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Please email your legislators TODAY and tell them it’s time to pass a comprehensive smokefree bill.

Despite the ongoing budget battle, last week the Senate took action to pass the legislation allowing you to hang items from your review mirror. The vote prompted Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, to lament that the Senate spent time on "the fuzzy dice bill" when it could have devoted time to more substantial issues -- such as a comprehensive smokefree workplace law. We could not agree more!

Take Action Now or Forever Hold Your Breath!

Email your elected officials and tell them to stop "rolling the dice" with workers' health. Ask that they make the smokefree legislation the top priority instead of wasting time on frivolous legislation like "the fuzzy dice bill". We want to leave the other “dirty dozen” behind and pass a comprehensive smokefree bill today.

We want to hear from you. Once you’ve taken action visit our blog at

Which issue do you think is more important to Michigan's residents?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

ACTION ALERT: Save Tobacco Prevention and Cessation for Our State!

We need you to CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES to save tobacco prevention programs in our state. These programs keep kids from smoking and help people quit!

According to subscription only MIRS news, Andy Dillon has just proposed an increase in the Other Tobacco Products tax. This tax would generate $41 million in revenue for the state. Unfortunately, the revenue would not be used for tobacco prevention and cessation.

We need to contact Speaker Dillon, Governor, and Representatives and tell them to support these tobacco tax increases and use the money to restore the Healthy Michigan Fund tobacco prevention and cessation program. Our legislators need to hear from the public that people support tobacco taxes and the tobacco prevention program!

WHAT: Contact your Representative, as well as Speaker Dillon and Governor’s Office.

HOW: To find the contact information for your Senator and Representative visit the following links:

Contact information for the Governor’s office: 517-373-3400
House Speaker Dillon 517-373-0857

Pass this alert along to your networks and encourage them to take action.

WHEN: Immediately! There is no time to waste. Make these calls as soon as possible. Encourage people to keep calling until a final budget deal is in place.


1. Increase tobacco taxes and fund and restore the tobacco prevention and cessation program!

2. The Healthy Michigan Fund and the Tobacco Prevention Program are essential to the health and economy of our state.

3. Michigan ranks 46th among all states in funding for tobacco prevention and cessation.

4. You cannot solve the problem of chronic disease by eliminating prevention funding in favor of Medicaid.


Thursday, September 10, 2009


As you may know, Governor Granholm recently released her plan to balance the budget. Among her solutions to the multibillion dollar deficit were increasing the cigarette tax by twenty-five cents and doubling the Other Tobacco Products tax (64% of the wholesale price). Sadly, the Governor’s plan also included a $150-million cut to the Michigan Department of Community Health. (See Free Press article here)

It is important that key political leaders in the state executive and legislative branches hear from us over the next week as we convey the importance of allocating funding for tobacco prevention and cessation programs. The message is: “Raising the cigarette tax and the tax on other tobacco products is essential for saving lives and health care dollars.”

Please thank the Governor and Bob Emerson for proposing the tax increase and urge them to dedicate a portion of the revenue generated to helping people quit smoking and prevent kids from starting.

Governor Granholm:,1607,7-168-21995---,00.html
Bob Emerson:

Please contact the House and Senate leadership, as well as their own legislators, with this additional message: “Raising the cigarette tax and the tax on other tobacco products is essential for saving lives and health care dollars. I urge you to dedicate a portion of the revenue generated to helping people quit smoking and to prevent kids from starting.”

Senator Bishop 517-373-2417;
Find Your Senator:
Representative Dillon 517-373-0857;
Find Your Representative:

Due to the high volume of emails most legislators are receiving daily, it may be more effective to place a phone call.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hey Convenience Store Lobby, don’t look now, but your pants are on fire

Last week the Michigan Petroleum Association and Michigan Association of Convenience Stores released an “Analysis of the Impact of an Increase in the Michigan Cigarette Excise Tax.” It is a “study” filled with incorrect data, out of date research, and numbers cooked up by tobacco funded statisticians. The point of the study was to demonstrate the regressive nature of tobacco taxes, but the researchers failed to extrapolate their data and thus their early arguments tend to focus on the benefits of a tobacco tax increase (like a $165.2 million increase in state revenues).

The researchers used quotes throughout the study to “prove” their points. Quotes from the Heartland Institute (a think tank funded, in part, by Phillip Morris) and Americans for Prosperity (a group that has been underwritten by tobacco companies) permeate the study, using the same type of “slippery slope” arguments made famous by Phillip Morris during the tobacco cases of the 1990s.

In addition some of the statistics used are wildly out of date. TFM counted fourteen errors on the “State Excise Tax Rates and Tax Revenues Sheet” cited in the study. The actual tobacco tax rates varied between $0.07 and $1.00 over what was listed. The study’s claim that Michigan has the sixth highest tax rate is off by four positions and Wisconsin’s cigarette tax rate will exceed Michigan’s by $0.52 on September 1.

Here are the study’s main arguments and faults:

Argument: Cigarette excise taxes are an unreliable, declining, and unstable funding source.
o The Truth: States that have raised their cigarette tax rates have subsequently received more tax revenue than they would have received without a rate increase, despite the fact that cigarette tax increases reduce state smoking levels and despite any related increases in cigarette smuggling or tax evasion. Higher revenues obtained by cigarette tax increases will decline over time as smoking rates continue to go down, but the revenue changes will be gradual and predictable. Moreover, cigarette and overall tobacco tax revenues are more predictable and stable than state income tax or corporate tax revenues, which can decline sharply during recessionary periods.

Argument: Michigan smokers will turn to border sales, Indian reservations, the internet, and counterfeit smuggling operations.
o The Truth: Smuggling and tax evasion account for only a relatively small minority of cigarette sales and do not come close to eliminating revenue gains or making tax increases unproductive.

Argument: A 25-cent increase in Michigan's current cigarette excise tax of $2 will likely result in huge losses to Michigan’s Convenience Store profits.
o The Truth: When c-store owners were asked how their cigarette trends have been relative to excise tax increases, “90% said in line or better than they expected…” Since the federal excise tax increase, industry profits have actually grown for tobacco companies. Reynolds reported an 8.2% increase, Altria reported a 3.8% increase, and Lorillard’s profits increased 21.4%. Consumers didn’t stop consuming, they just switched brands, reported UBS tobacco analyst Nik Modi. Moreover, money spent currently on cigarette sales will not disappear when the smoking declines from a cigarette tax increase reduces cigarette sales, it will simply shift to consumer expenditures on other alternatives.

Argument: Cigarette excise taxes target low-income consumers and are regressive.
o The Truth: Higher smoking rates among lower-income groups means they are now suffering the most from smoking and will, consequently benefit the most from any effective new measures to reduce smoking, including tobacco tax increases. Low-income smokers are much more likely to quit because of state tobacco tax increases than higher-income smokers.

Therefore any state that significantly increases its cigarette tax rate will also end up increasing the portion of the state’s total cigarette tax revenues that are paid for by higher-income smokers and reduce the portion paid by lower-income smokers. It’s also important to note that cigarette companies (and the convenience store lobby) have no problem with levying new charges on low-income smokers when it increases their own profits.

Michigan’s economy is in dire straits. We need a win and tobacco tax increases are that win. The Governor’s proposed tax increase is a win for health, a win for the state budget, and a win with the public. The tax increase would result in reduced youth tobacco use, generation of over $150 Million in new state revenue, and is overwhelmingly supported by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Big Win For Local Smoke Free Regulations

Yesterday, the Michigan Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision that upheld the authority of local health departments to and a county board of commissioners to approve, regulations that control smoking in the workplace. The full text of the decsion in the case, McNeil v. Charlevoix Co., can be found here.

All seven justices agreed that local health departments' can adopt stricter smoking regulations than the state in order to safeguard public health. It's important to note, however, that these regulations will not apply to restaurants and bars. Because of state preemption laws, only the Legislature can ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

The Court did split 4-3 on a second issue regarding at will employment. The majority upheld workers' rights to sue their employer if they're fired for asserting the right to a smoke free environment under the regulation.

Although this decision is encouraging, it only goes so far. As mentioned above, only the Legislature can ban smoking in restaurants and bars. Sadly that means that although the State's highest court asserted that smoke free workplaces regulations are a public health concern, many of Michigan's workers remain unprotected from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Call Speaker of the House Dillon and tell him you want to see a vote on a comprehensive smoke free bill that will protect ALL of Michigan's workers (including those who work in bars, restaurants, AND casinos).

1-888-REP-DILLON (737-3455)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Top 10 Reasons Andy Dillon Should Bring Up the Smoke Free Bill…Again

Nearly a month ago, the House voted on HB 4377 which would make Michigan workplaces smoke free but exempted casinos, cigar bars, and tobacco shops. Speaker Andy Dillon (D-Redford) had reportedly told his caucus members that he would allow a vote on a clean bill without exemptions, but when those amendments came up (respectively brought by Rep. Joan Bauer (D-Lansing) and Rep. Paul Scott (R-Grand Haven)), they were quickly gaveled down and no votes were taken. Dillon said he wanted to see what the Senate did with HB 4377.

Despite Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop’s (R-Rochester) previous statements that he would only allow a vote on a clean bill, Dillon seemed optimistic that he could “work something out” between the chambers. However, Speaker Dillon also made some public statements to business owners as well as to members of his caucus that if the Senate failed to act on the smoke free workplaces issue that he would allow for a vote on a comprehensive bill.

As of this writing, twenty-nine full days have passed since the House sent HB 4377 over to the Senate. It’s time for Speaker Dillon to act by sending a comprehensive smoke free bill, such as Rep. Bauer’s HB 4341 or Rep. Scott’s HB 4099 to the floor for a vote.

Here are 10 reasons why Speaker Dillon should take up the smoke free workplaces bill:

10. Leadership. Dillon can take this opportunity to pass comprehensive legislation and become a leader and champion for the state’s public health, rather than being accused of “holding up” Michigan’s health by passing a bill the Senate leadership has refused to address. He can ">“take the lead” in creating public health reform that works.

9. Public Health. As someone who has said he is committed to public health, this would be a big victory for both Dillon and the State of Michigan. States that have gone smoke free report have reported near immediate drops in the heart attack rate. Long term benefits include further drops in heart attack, cancer, and asthma rates.

8. Poker and Politics. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop has wavered on the idea of even taking up the issue of smoke free air. Bishop has previously said, however, that he would consider allowing a vote on a comprehensive bill. If Speaker Dillon passed a comprehensive bill he would call Bishop’s bluff, leaving him no choice but to allow a vote on smoke free air. Smoke free air can be debated as a public health issue, not a political game.

7. The economy. Research shows that the new economy thrives in areas that provide access to a great quality of life. Quality of life factors can include health care, jobs, and working conditions. States with smoke free workplaces laws have reported less employee absenteeism due to smoking related illnesses and ailments (such as chest colds, bronchitis, asthma, etc). Employees in smoke free states also report a more pleasant working experience (as compared to pre-smoke free status). Employers also generally see a decrease in direct health care costs for insurance, as well as lower maintenance costs (since carpets, furniture, and equipment last longer in smoke free environments).

6. The economy. Michigan residents spend 1.1 billion Medicaid dollars on smoking related health care. Each Michigan resident spends at least $306 annually to address smoking related health care costs. In addition, the state loses $3.95 billion in production costs due to tobacco use.

5. Constituency. It is what the people want. Over 2/3 of Michigan voters have indicated that they support smoke free laws. Give the people what they want.

4. Bipartisan cooperation. During his Opening Day Remarks, Dillon said, “While we may never end the partisanship that has divided this Capitol in the past, we can focus our energies in areas where we share common ground.” The smoke free workplaces law epitomizes an area where there is common ground. Legislators on both sides of the aisle support comprehensive smoke free air, and Speaker Dillon would do well to unite the parties on this issue.

3. Integrity. If Speaker Dillon took a vote on comprehensive smoke free air, it would add to his reputation as a politician who keeps his word. Following the failed vote on HB 4163 last session, Dillon assured smoke free advocates that the issue would be taken up again during 2009. On opening day, he prioritized the smoke free air issue and challenged his colleagues to finish working on the issue.

2. Future prospects. Speaker Dillon is term limited in 2010. Following a long and successful political career in the House, it’s hard to imagine that either Dillon or his constituents want to see him go anywhere. In a run for Governor, Attorney General, or other office, having this law’s passage on his list of accomplishments will stand out. (See also Reasons 3-5).

1. This really is a life or death issue. The Surgeon General has concluded that there is NO safe level of secondhand smoke exposure. Following the implementation of smoke free laws, heart attack rates go down significantly. Within two months of going smoke free, states have reported 60% drops in complaints about respiratory difficulty (such as shortness of breath, asthma attacks, bronchitis, etc). Passing a smoke free workplaces law is an efficient, economical way to help our struggling public health system.

Michigan's people have waited for too long. The evidence is in, the support is overwhelming, the time is NOW.

Contact Speaker Dillon and ask him to do the right thing, keep his word, and call for a vote on comprehensive smoke free air.

CALL: 888-737-3455
FAX: 517-373-5976
26284 Graham Rd.
Redford Township, MI 48239

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Senate Majority Leader Bishop lets Michigan down - needlessly delays smoking bill

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) referred the smoke free workplaces bill to committee. Unfortunately, the Senator chose the Government Operations & Reform Committee, a.k.a. “Where Bills Go to Die.”

Last week there was hope on the smoking ban. The House of Representatives had passed HB 4377 with 73 votes. Although Senator Bishop had previously stated that he wouldn’t even glance at a bill with exemptions (HB 4377 exempts casinos and cigar bars), the House vote seemed to change his tone slightly and Bishop hinted that he would “take the temperature” of the room. If people supported the bill he’d take up the issue.

I don’t know what room Bishop is in, but clearly that room is NOT in Michigan. Bishop has since said that he’s in no rush to even consider the bill. So, despite the fact that 2/3 of Michiganders want smoke free air, and that we’re one of only 13 states without a smoke free law of any kind, and that it has been proven time and time and time again that businesses are NOT harmed by smoke free legislation, Bishop fully intends to let this issue die.

Don’t let him get away with these shenanigans. There are some who have said that this is just the way things are done in Lansing. That certain legislators’ lack of action and political gameplaying are par for the course, should be expected, and that nothing can be done...

Baloney. Senators Ray Basham (D-Taylor) and Tupac Hunter (D-Detroit) have been clamoring for a smoke free bill because they "get it" and have been listening to what their constituents want. Senator Tom George (R-Kalamazoo), a doctor who understands just how deadly secondhand smoke is, pushed Bishop to take up the bill during the last session. There are Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle who are behind this issue. The problem isn’t the legislators, it's the “leadership” in the legislature.

Bishop has said he won’t be pressured by any groups to move the smoke free bill. That despite public support, he has no intention to bring it to the floor. Since when is it ok for elected officials to so blatantly shirk their jobs? Who gave Bishop the green light to discount the majority of Michiganders in favor of a small group of folks who make up a mere fraction of the state’s population?

Dillon didn’t move on the bill until he was told to, repeatedly, by thousands of Michiganders who shut down his lines calling for a hearing. It was the grassroots that helped get the smoke free air issue heard, the grassroots who have moved it along, and the grassroots who CAN put this issue to bed.

Now it’s time to send Senator Bishop the same message: “Take action on the smoke free bill NOW, not later, not when you feel like it, NOW.”

There is no good reason why this bill should be delayed any further. Call Senator Mike Bishop and tell your friends, neighbors, family and anyone else you run into to call him, too.

Here is Bishop’s contact info:
Phone: 877-924-7467 or 517-373-2417
Address: 883 Great Oaks Blvd.; Rochester, MI 48307

Don’t let Dillon off the hook, either. He’s partially to blame for this mess after barring votes on clean versions of the bill which would have forced Bishop’s hand. Speaker Dillon may have moved the bill, but his job is far from done, he may be able to persuade Bishop to take another look at this issue.

Call Dillon and tell him you don’t want this bill to die.
Phone: 888-737-3455 or 517-373-0857
Address: 26284 Graham Rd.; Redford Township, MI 48239

Tuesday, June 2, 2009



Last Tuesday, the House of Representatives voted 73-31 to pass HB 4377. This bill would make Michigan workplaces smoke free, including restaurants and bars. Although HB 4377 does make exemptions for casino gaming floors, tobacco specialty shops, and cigar bars it is much closer to the clean bill the Senate passed last December.

We are closer to a smoke free workplaces law than we’ve ever been and we have you to thank! Your quick and forceful responses to our Action Alerts have made a HUGE impact on our elected officials. Last session the House passed a very similar bill with 56 votes. That number jumped up by 17 votes because of your calls, letters, and emails.

The bill is now in the Senate for consideration. We must keep the pressure on the Senate and tell them how important it is to take up this legislation. Here’s what we need you to do:

Please call the Office of Your Senator. To find their contact information go to and click on the "Find your Senator" link in the left column of the page.

Tell the person answering the phone your name and why you are calling. ("I am calling regarding the smoke free workplaces issue/the smoking legislation/smoking in bars and restaurants")

• Please tell your lawmaker that you want them to vote for a comprehensive smoke free air bill that protects ALL of Michigan’s workers.

• If you have a brief personal story about secondhand smoke and how its affected you, share it with your lawmaker. Tell him/her why smoke free air is so important to you.

Again, thank you for your dedication to this issue. Your voice is the most powerful tool we have in this process. It was your voices that got this issue back on the agenda, and your voices that will resolve this issue. Together, we CAN make 2009 the year that Michigan passes a smoke free law.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Good But Not Good Enough

On Tuesday, May 26, the House passed HB 4377 by a vote of 73-31. The bill makes workplaces smoke free with exemptions for casino gaming floors, cigar bars and tobacco specialty shops. An amendment requiring that a cigar bar or tobacco shop be in existence by December 31, 2009; makes all casinos smoke free after all lower peninsula tribal casinos go smoke free; and gives the Michigan Gaming Commission the power to define the term “gaming floor” was substituted for the bill.

Those of you who have followed this saga will no doubt see the striking similarities to last year’s smoke free debate. Despite pressure from thousands of constituents across the state, the House leadership still did not see the wisdom in supporting a full ban. According to the subscription only MIRS news, Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford, and Representative Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park, “engineered” the vote; “basically by getting the 69-member House Democratic Caucus to go along.”

Dillon maneuvered the floor so that the caucus-preferred version of HB 4377, complete with exemptions, was the one that passed. All amendments offered on the floor, with the exception of the amendment mentioned above, were quick-gaveled down without any roll call votes.

Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing, and Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, each offered their own amendments to change HB 4377 to a comprehensive bill. Unfortunately, as with the other amendments, Rep. Shanelle Jackson, D-Detroit, followed the leadership’s directives and gaveled voice votes a split second after Bauer and Scott spoke.

In a press release from the Campaign for Smokefree Air (a group which TFM is affiliated with), spokesperson Judy Stewart expressed her disappointment. “This is a weak attempt to provide smokefree protection to Michigan workers. Though we’re happy that the House has moved legislation, we still feel that all workers deserve to breathe smokefree air. We’re disappointed that amendments to make the legislation stronger were not considered.”

The bill is set to advance to the Senate next Tuesday, June 2. The Republican-controlled Senate has previously said that they will support nothing less than a full ban. This year, however, there is word circulating that Senate Majority Leader, Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, has been getting a lot of pressure from smoke free proponents. Bishop’s spokesperson has said that the majority leader won't stand in the way of what the caucus wants to do in regard to passing a bill with exemptions.

“We have faith that in the end Michigan lawmakers will do the right thing and protect the health of all Michigan workers,” said Stewart. “No one should have to choose between their health and a paycheck.”

Thank you again for all of your calls and emails to your Representatives and to the Speaker of the House. Although we are disappointed to see a bill with exemptions and will continue to advocate for a comprehensive bill, we are happy to see that some progress has been made toward smoke free air in Michigan. We will be sending out and posting an action alert within the next week with the next steps in this campaign.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

***ACTION ALERT*** One small step in the right direction...

On Wednesday, May 20, the House Regulatory Reform Committee took a small step towards smoke free air for Michigan by passing HB 4377.* The bill would make restaurants and bars smoke free, but exempts casinos, cigar bars, and tobacco specialty shops. These exemptions leave many Michigan workers unprotected from the deadly effects of secondhand smoke.

Fortunately, the House has the opportunity to amend the bill and vote on a comprehensive smoke free legislation that would protect ALL of Michigan’s workers. We need your help to make this possible. Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, D-Rochester, has recently made another public comment that the Senate will only consider comprehensive smoke free legislation with NO exemptions.

Here’s what to do now:

  • Call Speaker of the House Andy Dillon at 888-737-3455 TODAY and ask him to take action to pass a comprehensive (no exemptions) smoke free bill by supporting the Bauer-P. Scott amendment before next week.

It is because of concerned citizens like you that have gotten this bill back on track. A mere month and a half ago, Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford, and Senator Bishop were telling us that the bill wasn’t important and would not be handled until summer, at best. Several action alerts were sent out and you responded! Phone lines were shut down, and inboxes were flooded by Michiganders across the state demanding smoke free air.

Thank you for all of your support and hard work. When this bill passes, know that it was due, in large part, to your phone calls.

*The bill passed 9-1. Representative Jim Stamas, R-Midland, Representative Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, passed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Glimmer of Hope

Two and a half weeks after Regulatory Reform Committee Chair Bert Johnson delayed the much anticipated vote on a smoke free workplaces bill, he has scheduled another hearing on the matter. The bill is sandwiched in with a mess of other items on the agenda from a bill allowing a restaurant on Wayne State’s campus to sell liquor to a bill regulating hearing aid dealer license fees.

The number of bills on the Committee’s to-do list suggests that HB 4377 will be voted on and may just make it to the House floor. There is little doubt that this hearing is happening because of the furious flurry of calls and emails that have been logged on the Speaker’s and House Majority Leader’s lines.

For over a month, everyday people from around the state have voiced their support of smoke free air…loudly. Here’s hoping that our legislative leadership has woken up to smell the smoke free air.

The hearing will take place on Wednesday, May 20th at 12:00 p.m. at 326 House Office Building in Lansing.

Individuals who wish to bring written testimony need to supply a minimum of thirty copies for distribution. Individuals needing special accommodations to participate in the meeting may contact the Chair's office.
Committee Clerk: Eric Esch
Phone: 517-373-0070

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Marlboro country goes smoke free--Pure Michigan still waiting to breathe freely.

A lot of fuss has been made about how much Michigan businesses will suffer if the state goes smoke free. The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association and the Michigan Restaurant Association have trotted out members testifying that they are positive they’ll lose business if the smoke free workplaces bill goes through. The evidence has been largely anecdotal and has been debunked by hundreds of peer-reviewed studies conducted nationwide. Despite the mountain of proof to the contrary, MLBA and MRA have continued to whine to the legislature about how Michigan’s economy is already suffering and that a law like this would be equivalent to a death blow for small businesses across the state.

Meanwhile, in tobacco rich North Carolina, legislators approved legislation that would ban smoking bars and restaurants.* Governor Beverly Purdue has said she will sign the bill into law.

North Carolina’s ban has been a long time in the making and is something many thought would never happen. Tobacco has long been one of the mainstays of the state’s economy, but the legislators said they had to take public health into consideration.

“Tobacco has a great legacy in North Carolina. It's done some great things, (but) certainly, people have a right to smoke-free air,” said House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman, who has survived two battles with lung cancer.

The fact that nearly ¾ of the country, including tobacco rich Virginia and North Carolina, can pass some sort of smoke free legislation demonstrates that this is a public health issue. When will the Michigan legislative leadership wake up and smell the smoke free air?

At a time when preventative health budgets are being slashed and burned, it’s even more important that we protect the public health in whatever way we can. States that have passed smoke free legislation have seen a significant drop in hospital admissions for cardiac arrest. In addition, hospitality workers reported a decrease in sensory symptoms (red or irritated eyes, sore or scratchy throat, runny nose, sneezing or nose irritation) caused by secondhand smoke following implementation of smoke free laws.

Over two-thirds of Michigan residents support smoke free legislation. Most of our legislators would like to see Michigan go smoke free. Champions like Senators Ray Basham, D-Taylor and Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit and Representatives Joan Bauer, D-Lansing and Paul Scott, D-Grand Blanc have all pushed hard for smoke free legislation and should be applauded. So why the delay?

The blame lies squarely with our legislative leadership: Speaker of the House Andy Dillon, D-Redford, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, D-Rochester. Michigan needs a win and this is an easy victory for public health, for the economy, and for Michiganders across the state. Contact Bishop and Dillon today and tell them to move smoke free legislation forward.

Dillon can be reached at (888) 737-3455 or
Bishop can be reached at (877) 924-7467 or

*A reader pointed out to me that I may have posted a little too soon on this one. The entry initially read that the NC ban covered all workplaces. It in fact only covers restaurants and bars and does not cover private workplaces.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Michigan legislators need to do their jobs

There’s been a lot of fuss lately about Sen. Tupac Hunter’s, D-Detroit, bill which would place the smoke free air issue on the 2010 ballot. The proposal, if passed, would finally give Michigan a fully comprehensive smoke free workplaces law. The casino issue would be moot because they wouldn’t get the exemption that has been one of the major reasons behind the hold up.

While Senator Hunter’s proposal is admirable, it doesn’t address the problem. The problem isn’t just smoke free air; the problem is “key legislators” like Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, and Speaker Andy Dillon, R-Redford. These two have managed to step on the bill at every opportunity, outwardly shirking their responsibilities to the people of Michigan while kissing babies as they take steps towards their next political aspirations (Bishop for Attorney General and Dillon for Governor).

During last December’s near passage of the smoke free workplaces bill, it seemed like Dillon was behind the bill. He has said publicly that he’s behind the bill, but conversations with the Speaker have revealed that he’d vote “NO” on a bill if it ever got out of committee. This is an interesting reveal coming from the same man who, during his inaugural speech this year, prioritized the smoke free workplaces bill and challenged himself and his colleagues to pass it before summer.

It has become abundantly clear to anyone paying attention to this issue that Andy Dillon has broken his word to the 2/3 of Michigan citizens who support this bill. He is the one stopping the bill from getting to the House floor, he is the one who has stymied any movement by grassroots advocates, and he is the one who should take responsibility.

It is well understood that the smoke free workplaces issue would pass overwhelmingly if it were to wind up on the ballot. But keep in mind that would be an expensive and ugly process that places the entire burden on Michigan citizens. Why should YOU shoulder the workload and expense of the legislature’s job? Why should YOU be responsible for cleaning up a mess that Andy Dillon has made worse?

During his inaugural speech he said, “[Michiganders] expect us to make the tough decisions, just like they are making at home and in the corporate boardroom throughout the state. They sent us here to do a job, and it is incumbent upon us, as their employees, to do it.” Call him today at (888) 737-3455 or email at and tell him to do his job and get a comprehensive smoke free law passed.

As for Marlboro Mike Bishop, his hands aren’t clean either. He can act on SB 114 (Sen. Basham's comprehensive smoke free bill) any time he wants. As for Sen. Hunter’s ballot initiative? Bishop stuck it in Government Operations and Reform, aka “Where Bills Go To Die.” He’s said in the past that when it comes to a smoke free bill, it’s all or nothing. Well, 66% of Michigan residents want it all. Tell him to listen to his constituency and protect the public health. He can be reached at (877) 924-7467 and

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sen. Hunter Proposes Referendum on Smoking Ban

Senator Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, introduced SB 496 which would put the issue of smokefree workplaces on the 2010 statewide ballot. This legislation is virtually identical to Senator Ray Basham's, D-Taylor, bill SB 114 and applies to restaurants, bars, and casinos.

In a press release, Senator Hunter stated, "For the past 10 years, the Legislature has tried and failed to pass a smokefree worksite bill that would protect our citizens from smoking-related diseases. Instead of continuing to argue about exemptions and concessions, we need to go to the voters and let them decide what is best for Michigan.”

The fact that a Detroit Senator wants to see the issue on a ballot is an interesting twist considering the Detroit Reps' strong aversion to smoke free air legislation. The House Regulatory Reform Committee's Chair, Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, is opposed to smoke free legislation as are most of the Detroit area Representatives.

There is a fear that business will decrease significantly if a smoking ban goes into effect. People will flee from the state, people will abandon casinos, bars, and their love of going out to eat. This fear is unfounded and based on lies.

A study conducted by the New York City Department of Finance showed that "tax receipts increased by 8.7 percent, or approximately $1.4 million, after the city went smokefree." In addition, the first nine months following the smoke free law's inception there were 10,600 new jobs in its bars and restaurants. Florida saw similar results, and reported that retail receipts for taverns and bars that served food remain unaffected by its smokefree law. In fact over 300 studies conducted by peer research journals have shown similar results. When smoke free dining laws go into effect, business goes up.

A recent poll revealed that two-thirds of Michigan voters support a workplace ban that includes bars and restaurants. If this bill passes we may just have our say. Whether this bill will even see the floor however, has yet to be seen.

Playing With Public Health

Yesterday, a handful of state legislators stood outside in the rain under a 25 foot inflated rubber duck to announce a bill that would protect Michigan's children from harmful chemicals and toxins in their environment. The legislators are concerned about toxic chemicals like arsenic, lead, and bromine.

Are they talking about the 4,000 chemical componds found in cigarettes? Will they be tackling the issue of secondhand smoke which contains 11 different human carcinogens?

No, they're dealing with toys. Now, don't get us wrong, we don't like toxic toys anymore than the next guy. We don't think hazardous chemicals belong in our childrens' toys anymore than we think they should be in their air. However, given the fact that a little over two weeks ago we were told that the most important thing on the Reps' agendas was the budget, we're a little miffed as to why these politicians could take the time to stage a publicity stunt.

Now at the start of the politicians' spring break, Ashtray Andy Dillon said that only important issues, like the budget, were to be tackled. In the last blog entry, we accused Dillon of playing games with public health. We didn't know he'd take us so seriously as to actually drag out some toys.

Let the Speaker know that it's time to put away childish things and start dealing with a public health concern that truly impacts all of Michigan's children, whether they're 1 or 100 - second hand smoke. If he's got the time for "fun" press conferences and giant rubber ducks, surely he has time to hear from you.

Office Address Room 166, Capitol Building
Mailing Address P.O. Box 30014 Lansing, MI 48909-7514
Phone: (517) 373-0857

Fax: (517) 373-5976
Toll-Free (888) 737-3455

Email or
(the second link will take you to an email form)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

CALL TO ACTION: Quit Playing Games With Our Hearts

An article in the Detroit Free Press talked about the rampant partisan politics and “excess gamesmanship” in Lansing. The author defined gamesmanship as “promoting the appearance of achieving policy objectives in such a way as to ensure no change will be accomplished, or with an indifference to actually accomplishing change.” He then went on to describe the Michigan politicos’ favorite gamesmanship target: the smoke free workplaces bill.

The author observed, “The end of the current Legislature may very well find us in the same position as the end of the last Legislature: preservation of the status quo. This would amount to a triumph of gamesmanship over democratic majorities.”

Despite Michiganders’ overwhelming support of a comprehensive bill, the legislators just can’t seem to get their act together enough to give the constituents what they want. Last year, the Senate passed a clean bill, and the House passed a bill riddled with exemptions. The two groups pointed fingers at each other and Michigan residents paid the price for their silly games. This year, the politicos’ “go to” move is to blame the economy.

So how do you beat cheaters at their own game? Call their bluff. Public health is not a game. Michigan residents cannot stand idly by while Ashtray Andy and Marlboro Mike drag their feet and wait for our fearless leaders to learn how to walk and chew gum at the same time.
If they want to talk about the economy, then let’s look at the dollars and cents facts. Just about every peer reviewed economic impact study shows no negative impact on business. To the contrary, most states report a marked uptick in restaurant revenue due in large part to more people going out. These reviews have been conducted in good times and bad, in poverty and in wealth.

As for the price Michigan pays as a smoke-friendly state, the numbers are astronomical. In 2007, Michigan spent $3.4 billion on health care costs directly related to smoking. Our state Medicaid program covers $1.1 billion of that amount. That means that each Michigan resident has to shell out roughly $306 to cover smoking related health care costs. In tough economic times like these, imagine what you could do with $306:

You could buy a week’s worth of groceries for a family of four,

Or 153 gallons of gas:
Or a car payment:

Or, for those of you looking for a splurge, a Nintendo Wii:

What would you do with $306? Call Andy Dillon or Mike Bishop and let them know that in these hard times, Michigan can't afford to ignore its health.
Dillon can be reached at (888) 737-3455 or
Bishop can be reached at (877) 924-7467 or

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Call to Action - Ashtray Andy and Marlboro Mike put Michigan's health behind $$$

On April 8, House Speaker Andy Dillon, D-Redford Township, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, announced that the smoke free workplaces law will be shelved until summer in order to work on a budget.

That’s right, all 148 people will be working on the budget at the same time. Picture it, all of the legislators checking each other’s math, punching in numbers on a calculator, and really getting down to work, full time, for eight hours a day until June. This truly is government efficiency at its finest.

While Dillon, Bishop, and the rest of the politicos push beads around on a communal abacus in an attempt to deal with the budget, the future of Michigan residents’ health is beginning to look even more dim.

These decisions came at the close of three weeks worth of testimony in the House Regulatory Reform Committee on the various smoke free bills, as well as three state-funded field trips to various casinos and cigar bars. These field trips were taken in the interests of “taking in all of the information” so that committee members could make a balanced decision on the welfare of the state. I’ll remind you that the committee is chaired by Rep. Bert Johnson, D-Detroit, who has previously voted against a comprehensive smoke free bill.

Michigan residents want this bill to pass. A poll of Michigan voters conducted by EPIC-MRA showed that two-thirds support a smoking ban in all places, including Detroit’s casinos.

As for the State’s dire economic circumstances that have been the excuse for not dealing with this pressing public health matter, take a look at some of these 2007 statistics:
  • Michigan spent $3.4 billion on health care costs directly related to smoking
  • Michigan lost $3.95 billion in productivity due to smoking.
  • Each Michigan family paid $306 for smoking related health care

But, to their credit, not ALL of the Michigan legislators are pleased with Bishop and Dillon’s latest stall tactic. Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, a champion for smoke free workplaces has rebuked the leadership for their inability to deal with more than one issue at a time.

“I'm OK with multi-tasking," Basham told the Detroit News. "When 3,000 people are dying in Michigan every year from secondhand smoke and smoking-related diseases are costing us billions a year for health care, we should find time to deal with this."

The leaders’ excuse that “now isn’t a good time” isn’t valid. Based on the mere fact that the bill has been rolling around the Michigan Legislature for the past 11 years, it seems that NO time is a good time for the state’s public health. People are getting restless, and talk of an expensive ballot proposal is building.

The lawmakers have said that a ballot initiative is the last thing they want to see, but I don’t buy it and neither should you. After all, why should the lawmakers make the so-called “tough” decisions when they can pawn off their jobs on the people? It’s become shockingly clear that Dillon and Bishop don’t have the guts to stand up for public health. They would rather engage in petty arguments, take expensive field trips, point fingers, and push papers than address their constituents needs. Let them know they’re wrong.

Call and write Andy Dillon and Mike Bishop and ask them to do the right thing and support what the majority of Michiganders want; now, not this summer.
Dillon can be reached at (888) 737-3455 or
Bishop can be reached at (877) 924-7467 or

Friday, April 3, 2009

Urge your Senators to support FDA regulation of tobacco

As many of you are aware the House passed the FDA legislation which would allow the FDA to regulate tobacco. It now moves on to the Senate. Please consider sending a note to our Senate legislators using this link. It provides a letter you can edit.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hearing on Smoke Free Workplaces Bill tomorrow

Speak up for smoke free workplaces in Michigan! There will be a hearing tomorrow and the Regulatory Reform Committee will be taking testimony on both sides of the issue. Here's the info:

Regulatory Reform, Rep. Bert Johnson, Chair

Date: 04/01/2009Time: 12:00 PM

Place: 326 House Office Building, Lansing, MI

Agenda:Continuing testimony on a statewide smoking ban.HB 4377 (Gonzales) Health; smoking; smoke-free workplace and food service establishments; require.

To view text of legislation go to

Individuals who wish to bring written testimony need to supply a minimum of thirty copies for distribution.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of smoke free workplaces

Overheard at the Michigan House Office Building: "I have a fundamental right to smoke if I want to, damn government can't tell me what to do....It's my Constitutional right."
That statement is so wrong on so many levels, I don't know where to begin. But, as a professor once told me, when you're dealing with the Constitution, you've got to look at the context.

The House Regulatory Reform Committee held Round 2 of their public hearings on smoke free workplace law. The usual suspects were all there: doctors in favor of the ban, restaurant owners and casinos opposed to the ban, the Rep who is overwhelmingly supportive of the ban who nods approvingly while listening to testimony, the Rep who gets money from big tobacco and would only support the ban if tobacco control advocates could cough up some bucks. Contrary to what some folks think, public health advocates in Michigan (a) are not paid by pharmaceutical companies and (b) are not rolling in taxpayer cash.

The U.S. Constitution is the highest law of the land and it deserves more respect than it's being given. All that said, let me give you a crash course in Constitutional Law and why smoking (or allowing smoking in your restaurant, bar, casino, store, or VFW hall) is not one of your fundamental rights as provided by the Constitution.

People claiming a right to smoke rely on two main arguments: 1) smoking is a liberty guaranteed under a person's fundamental right to privacy; and/or 2) the Equal Protection clause protects smokers from "discriminatory" smoke free workplace laws. Don't be fooled by the casual legalese, these arguments are bunk, hooey, bull, and whatever other synonyms for NOT TRUE you can think of.

I. Fundamental Rights
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that "only personal rights that can be deemed 'fundamental' or 'implicit in the concept of ordered liberty' are included in the guarantee of personal liberty."* Fundamental rights usually relate to an individual's privacy and autonomy over one's body and within one's home.

During the hearing yesterday, one of the business owners opposed to the ban argued that his choice to smoke a cigar on occasion was his "private individual right" that the government could not take. In fact, the Constitution only protects privacy interests related to marriage, contraception, family relationships, and the rearing and educating of children.** By contrast, courts have rejected smoking as a fundamental privacy interest.***

II. Smokers are not a protected group
Another opponent to the smoke free workplaces law claimed the law was "clearly discrimination" and "just plain wrong." Courts have repeatedly spurned the idea that laws regulating smoking discriminate against smokers as a particular group and violate the equal protection clause.

The equal protection clause serves as a guarantee that the government will not treat similar groups of people differently without good reason.¤ Certain groups of people are given greater protection against discriminatory government acts under the U.S. and Michigan constitutions.⌂ These groups are granted extra protections because they have "immutable characteristics determined solely by the accident of birth."· People are not born smokers and although it is a fierce addiction that can be incredibly difficult to overcome, it is a behavior, not an "immutable characteristic."

The equal protection clause also prohibits discrimination against fundamental "interests" that inherently require equal treatment. These fundamental interests include the right to vote, political freedoms (like political candidacy), the right of access to the courts for certain proceedings, and the right to interstate travel. Smoking, however, is nowhere on the list.

So what does this all mean? Well, if a government ordinance affects an individual right that is not constitutionally protected, the ordinance will be upheld so long as there is any reasonably conceivable set of facts that could provide a rational basis for the law. Smoke free workplaces have been proven to improve the quality of a state's overall public health. The overall welfare and betterment of public health is a legitimate government goal. Therefore smoke free laws are a legitimate and constitutional exercise of governmental authority.

Notes (These cases are available at either or the Michigan Courts' website)
*Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 152 (1972)
**See Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 US 479, 484 (164 (married couples have right to contraception), Meyers v. Nebraska, 262 US 390 (parents' right to educate children as they see fit); Moore v. East Cleveland, 431 US 494 (1977) (sanctity of family relationships)
***City of North Miami v. Kurtz, 653 So.2d 1025, 1028 (Fla. 1995) (right to smoke not under penumbra of federal constitution's privacy provisions)
¤Ordinances are presumed constitutional and the burden is on the party challenging the ordinance to show that it is not rationally related to a legitimate governmental interest Alexander v. Detroit, 392 Mich. 30, 35-36 (1974)
See Brown v. Bd. of Ed., 347 U.S. 483 (1954) (race); Craig v. Boran, 429 U.S. 190 (1976) (gender)
·Frontiero v. Richardson, 411 U.S. 677, 686 (1977)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Let the Reps know that YOU support Smoke Free Laws TOMORROW!

Do you think smoking sections in restaurants should be a thing of the past? Are you shocked that Michigan hasn't passed a smoke free regulation yet? Are you wondering what the hold up is on this darn law?

Well...find out! Join us tomorrow for a meeting at the Michigan House Office Building for a committee hearing about smoke free legislation. That's right the MI House Regulatory Reform Committee will be meeting tomorrow to hear testimony on Smoke Free Legislation. This is the second in a series of hearings that will (hopefully) culminate in a vote on April 1, 2009.

So if you're shocked and appalled, or even just mildly irked that Michigan is still NOT smoke free, unlike 35 other states, go to the hearing and tell these Representatives what YOU think. Doctors will testify, advocates will testify, victims of tobacco related illnesses will testify, and YOU can testify. Some of the most powerful testimony comes from ordinary citizens because it's the ordinary citizens who elect, and re-elect these politicians.

These Representatives really need to hear from some of their younger constituents, i.e. high school and college students. A lot of politicians have no idea what their younger constituents want, some of them don't even seem to care. We at TFM urge you to MAKE THEM CARE. During our last election cycle, the youth movement turned out in masses to vote for change. Let's keep this momentum going and register our voices once again.

So if you've got something to say, say it tomorrow at the Regulatory Reform Committee Meeting:

12:00 PM
326 House Office Building, Lansing, MI
AgendaCheck Spelling
Discussion on a statewide smoking ban
Representative Bert Johnson

If you can't make it to the meeting, you can also watch the hearing via webcast and stay tuned for information about future hearings.


Tomorrow, March 25, 2009, is National Kick Butts Day! Kick Butts Day, or KBD, is time for youth everywhere to STAND OUT, SPEAK UP, AND SEIZE CONTROL AGAINST BIG TOBACCO.

Youth across the nation will be holding all sorts of events - graffiti walls memorializing those lost to tobacco related illnesses, to letter writing campaigns to local lawmakers, film festivals featuring short films about tobacco use, and even KBD Carnivals.

Here are some activities from past KBD events, including a NJ group’s music video and “They put WHAT in a cigarette?!”

So, are any KBD events going on near you? Tell us about them!

Monday, March 23, 2009

This is testimony given by a Detroit casino worker about the secondhand smoke and hazardous health conditions in their place of employment. Their identity had to be hidden due to the possibility of retaliation from their employer for speaking out.

Video may not work...if not, check out Michigan Campaign For Smokefree Air's Facebook Page

If just one more person quits smoking, then it's a success

Some of you may have heard about the Michigan QuitLine's recent Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy promotion. You may have heard that it was a bust because the QuitLine ran out of supplies and shut down after only five days. You may have heard that it was all a ploy on behalf of the Governor's office, i.e. "offer something good for free then shut down the program when it starts to work."

We here at Tobacco Free Michigan were stunned and pleasantly surprised at the response to the Michigan Department of Community Health's Quitline promotion. We've also been shocked by some of the comments we've overheard on the net and in person about the promotion's "failure." So, we came up with an FAQ sheet to address some of the questions, comments, and concerns we've heard about the Quitline in recent weeks.

What is the Quitline?
The Quitline provides services to Michigan residents that want to quit using tobacco products. The Quitline offers a personal health coach, participant toolkits and referrals to local programs help tobacco users gain the confidence and motivation they need to quit for good.

Why did the Quitline stop taking calls?
After launching the Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) promotion on March 11, Michigan’s Quitline received over 66,000 calls in less than a week. This unprecedented response, while terrific, has depleted the Tobacco Prevention Program’s supplies. The Michigan Department of Community Health has temporarily run out of funding to purchase additional NRT or coaching services.

Is the Quitline shut down permanently?
No, in fact the Quitline is still available for Medicaid Managed Care clients. It is also serving all those people who have already signed up for services. The Michigan Department of Community Health is currently seeking more funding to reopen the Quitline to everyone.

I don’t smoke, why is it my problem if these smokers can’t quit?
Because smoke-related illnesses affect everyone, whether they’re breathing in the air, paying taxes toward Medicaid or watching a loved one battle a tobacco-related illness. Tobacco use costs Michigan $3.40 billion annually in health care expenses. Of this amount, Medicaid pays over one billion dollars annually in health care for tobacco-related diseases.

Can I still get Free Nicotine Replacement Therapy?
Although the Michigan Tobacco Quitline is no longer giving away free NRT, there are many local and national programs that provide Michigan residents with support during quit attempts. Many free resources and materials are available by going to

I want to quit, but I don’t have the money to buy patches, gum, or lozenges. What am I supposed to do?
In addition to the programs listed above, your insurance may cover your quit attempt. Call your insurance company to see what programs and medications are covered.

Quit with a buddy. Many people find it hard to buy a week or more supply of nicotine patches or gum all at once. If you quit with a buddy and split the cost of the product, you can reduce your out-of-pocket costs. Others have put the cost of the product on a credit card. They saved all the money they would have spent on cigarettes and used it to pay off the card when the bill came due.

Why did the free promotion end so quickly?
The Quitline free NRT promotion had an unprecedented response. The same promotion ran in the fall of 2008 and had 3,684 callers over a six week period. This promotion received over 66,000 calls in 6 days. The demand for service was far beyond what was projected. The Michigan Department of Community Health has spent over a million dollars on the Michigan Tobacco Quitline this year. This is still not enough to meet the overwhelmingly high demand for Quitline services.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Michigan spend $12 per person on tobacco prevention. Michigan spends a mere 50 cents per person. The Michigan Tobacco Prevention Program should be funded at a higher level.

Didn’t the tobacco companies give Michigan a huge chunk of change for the tobacco settlements?
YES. The 1998 multi-state tobacco settlement – the Master Settlement Agreement (MSA) – provided for annual payments to the states from the major cigarette companies to settle the state’s lawsuits against them, reimburse the states for smoking-caused costs, and provide funds the states promised to use to prevent and reduce tobacco use.

So why not just take dollars from the MSA to fund the Quitline and other Tobacco control projects?
Despite the original intent of the payments, Michigan is not currently using any of its settlement dollars for tobacco prevention or reduction. Although Michigan has received over $400 million in settlement payments, many of those dollars have been securitized for undisclosed “economic development” projects. Medicaid also receives a large amount of the settlement, but NONE of the currently funded projects go toward reducing chronic disease, prevention, or lower healthcare costs.

Fortunately, Michigan received a bonus payment in 2008. Although much of that money is also gone, there is about $5 million that has yet to be designated or securitized.

So the $5 million will go to tobacco prevention and control?
No. As of right now, that $5 million is sitting in a bank and will most likely wind up being securitized. But YOU have the power to change that! Contact the Governor’s office, and your elected officials and let them know that you think it’s time they kept their word and use the MSA money for its true purpose.

Who do I contact to get things set straight?
Contact the Governor’s Office or one of your locally elected representatives.

Governor Jennifer Granholm
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
FAX:(517) 335-6863

Find your local representatives here:
Find a Rep --
Find a Senator --

From the land of lead-based children's toys...

comes the E-Cigarette. Touted as a "healthy alternative to smoking," the e-cigarette has been heavily marketed to smokers trying to quit for the past few months. They are marketed as healthier because most of the harmful material produced by the combustion of tobacco in traditional cigarettes is not present in the atomized liquid of electronic cigarettes.

Despite marketers' claims however, there have been no scientific tests to examine the overall "healthiness" of the e-cigarette. Some e-cigarette companies have posted information and quotes from the World Health Organization, giving the impression that the WHO endorses this product. In fact, the WHO has disclaimed all knowledge of the e-cigarette's therapeutic benefits as a cessation aid. That said, WHO does not "does not discount the possibility that the electronic cigarette could be useful as a smoking cessation aid. The only way to know is to test."

In a press release from the WHO, Douglas Bettcher, Director of WHO's Tobacco Free Initiative stated, "If the marketers of the electronic cigarette want to help smokers quit, then they need to conduct clinical studies and toxicity analyses and operate within the proper regulatory framework...Until they do that, WHO cannot consider the electronic cigarette to be an appropriate nicotine replacement therapy, and it certainly cannot accept false suggestions that it has approved and endorsed the product. "

Is the e-cigarette a safe alternative to smoking? Perhaps. We here at Tobacco Free Michigan are not completely discounting its potential benefits but, we're also not endorsing the product. The e-cigarette's current "scientific proponents" sound a lot like some other "scientific proponents" from yesteryear...

See if you can identify which statement was made by an e-cigarette company and which was made by a tobacco company:

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Non-smoking Section in a Restaurant is Like a No-peeing Section in a Pool... just can't avoid other people's gross human byproducts.Once upon a time, the non-smoking section of a restaurant was made up of the 3 tables without smokers. Nonsmoking sections in restaurants began to gain popularity in the 1980s. Today entire states mandate that all restaurants be completely nonsmoking.Last weekend, I travelled down to Ohio, a smoke-free state. On the way there, my travelling companion and I stopped at a restaurant in Ann Arbor. We sat down in the "non-smoking" section, which, was directly next to the "smoking" section. There wasn't even a barrier to make it seem like the smoke would somehow be blocked from creeping in. Seriously, it looked like this: Restaurants like this surprise me. It's like owners think the smoke will see the no smoking sign, read it, and turn itself around. Smoke is not a naughty puppy you can keep out of the living room. "Non-smoking sections" were a great idea when they were first on the scene, but now there are much better non-smoking restaurants. 35 state have smoke free regulations that include restaurants, including Virginia, Marlboro country itself (See image below: states in green have smoke free worksites, restaurants, and/or bars).* Seriously Michigan, shouldn't our state get with the program and get this legislation passed already?

*Virginia's recently passed law will go into effect on December 1, 2009. South Dakota's recently passed law goes into effect July 1, 2009.