Michigan Finally Passes Workplace Smoking Ban

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on December 11, 2009 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

This change, like so many others, has been a long time coming. After a decade of work by anti-smoking advocates, on December 10th, Michigan sent a bill banning smoking in most workplaces to Governor Jennifer Granholm for her signature. Following in the timeworn footsteps of states like California, which placed a statewide ban on smoking in enclosed workplaces in 1995, Michigan becomes the 38th state to ban smoking in public places and workplaces. According to the American Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation, as of October 2009, 71% of the U.S. population lives under a ban on smoking in "workplaces, and/or restaurants, and/or bars, by either a state, commonwealth, or local law."

This bill, actively opposed by restaurant and bar owners, will ban smoking in bars, restaurants and all other workplaces with one exception. Afraid of loosing gamblers to nearby Indian casinos, casino owners managed to push through an exemption to the smoking ban for the gaming floor of a casino. Rationally, smoking will still be banned in the nearby casino restaurant or bar. Indian casinos are not subject to the state law.

Although not perfect, the bill has pleased supporters. "We have heard the message from the people of Michigan," said Rep. Joan Bauer, D-Lansing, who cited numerous polls showing the Michigan public supporting a public smoking ban.

Smoking bans are most valuable to employees who, unlike patrons of bars and restaurants, don't have the choice to stay home. Said MEC President Chris Kolb, a former state representative who supported smoking bans introduced during his tenure: "Finally. This is a long overdue, common-sense protection for patrons and employees of Michigan's bars and restaurants."

There are still many states with no statewide ban on smoking such as Alaska, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, and Mississipp  to name  but a few.

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