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

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