State passes smoking banPublished 10:47am Friday, December 11, 2009
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
Business owners in Michigan shouldn’t have been surprised that legislation banning smoking in all public places finally passed both the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives Thursday.
The bill was introduced in February and discussed in previous sessions, but a compromise was never reached until now.
Having been approved by the Senate with a vote of 23-13 and in the House 75-30, the bill just needs Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s signature to take effect on May 1, 2010.
Granholm said late Thursday she will sign the bill, according to the Detroit Free Press, making Michigan the 38th state to ban smoking in public places.
The only exceptions to the regulations would be the gaming floors of the three Detroit casinos, American Indian-owned casinos, cigar bars and tobacco specialty stores.
Businesses that do not comply with non-smoking regulations could be fined $100 for the first offense and as much as $500 for following offenses.
While most state lawmakers are pleased to see the bill pass, area restaurant and bar owners are unsure of what the future will bring.
“We knew it was coming. It was just a matter of time,” David Dulemba, owner of the Golden Nugget Restaurant and Saloon in Niles said. “I guess the best thing to say is it’s difficult to really know the ramifications at this time. We don’t have a lot of smokers. We do have some, but some people don’t come in because of the smoke. I’m just hoping the bottom line is that it won’t be a problem.”
Dulemba said since 65 percent of his tables are non-smoking; he hopes the new legislation will not decrease business.
Brett Godsey, owner of Joey Armadillo’s Bowling Alley, Sports Bar and Restaurant, wasn’t surprised either.
“We all knew it was going to happen,” Godsey said. “The whole country’s going to be that way eventually. I think, business-wise, if it’s fair for one, it’s fair for all.”
Godsey said the smoking ban may cause his business to lose some customers, while gain new ones.
“I’m on the fence,” Godsey said of his opinion on the legislation. “It’s a catch-22, because I have a lot of customers who would come here if we were non-smoking.”
He also added that the bill will help the overall health of Michiganders.
Bill Peterson, a South Bend resident and a regular at Joey Armadillo’s, said he knows other people from Indiana who cross the border to go to Michigan bars. With the new legislation, he worries those places may lose their business.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Peterson, who is a non-smoker. “I think it will have a huge impact on businesses. A lot of people from Indiana go to Jay’s Lounge (Niles bar). I mean, that’s a big deal.”
Rep. Sharon Tyler, R-Niles, responded to area business owners concerns.
“While I do understand their concerns, I think that by making this ban across the board for restaurants and bars, we won’t see any decrease in business,” she said. “The other 37 states that have passed legislation have not seen any decrease in business. They’ve actually seen an increase, and I don’t expect Michigan to be any different.”
Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, helped write the bill.
“This will be a great early Christmas gift to the residents of Michigan who have been asking for smoke-free air for a long time,” said Jelinek in a press release. “Michigan will join 37 other states in making workplaces healthier for employees and going out to eat more enjoyable for families.”
Smoking bans across U.S.
• Smoking in state and/or local government buildings is banned in 33 states and the District of Columbia.
• Smoking in private workplaces, not including restaurants or bars, is banned in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
• Smoking in restaurants is banned in 28 states and the District of Columbia.
• Smoking in stand-alone bars is banned in 23 states and the District of Columbia.
Source: The American Lung Association (via Associated Press)