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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bishop can be reached at (877) 924-7467 or email@example.com
*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.