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)