People Ban: MI Monroe County
Restaurant owners against smoking ban
December 13. 2006
Regardless of whether it is feasible, the business owners and managers who stood up during Tuesday night’s Monroe County Board of Commissioners meeting said they don’t want a smoking ban.
“There should be no committee formed on this issue,” said John Imo, owner of Grafton Inn Restaurant and Bar in Carleton, during the public comment period.
The sentiment was repeated by several other owners and managers of local bars and restaurants. Forming a committee, they said, would be a waste of time and money for something they did not want.
“You’d be hard to find a place without a smoke-eater in it,” said Keith Kamin, manager of Doc’s Place Whistlestop Bar and Grill. “We already have ventilation in place; we already take precautions (in regards to secondhand smoke). We don’t need this.”
Commissioner N. Randy Ansel submitted a letter to the board asking members to consider forming a committee to examine smoking in the county – specifically the feasibility of banning smoking in all public places, including restaurants, bars, enclosed public spaces and work places.
“I can’t take a vote or make a decision on this tonight,” he said. “I merely wanted to look into this and was wondering if we could put a committee together to take a look at this.”
Mr. Ansel said he envisioned a group of five people to include the head of the health department, the human resources manager, another county employee, a commissioner and one representative of the county.
“I think our first question should be directed to the attorney, to ask if the county board has any authority over this,” said Commissioner Dale Zorn.
Thomas Graham of Lennard, Graham and Goldsmith said he only had a chance to do a preliminary investigation and was reluctant to provide a definitive answer without more research.
However, he said, a cursory investigation showed other entities in Michigan that tried to pass no-smoking laws including restaurants and bars hit a snag. He specifically cited a case in Marquette in which the city passed a prohibition and local owners protested, fighting through the courts until the Michigan Supreme Court essentially ruled against the ban.
Mr. Graham went on to say that there is a workplace clause that possibly could allow for more restrictions.
“I have to wonder how much we could gain by it,” said Mr. Zorn.
Mr. Ansel said he would prefer solid answers to speculation, which is the point in forming a committee. No action was required on the letter he submitted, and the board accepted it as a communication without the determination to form a group.
“In that case, I ask that the health director research this,” said Mr. Ansel.
“I would just like to know what our options are. And I have to say that I’m disappointed that no one in support of this – I know they are out there – came to support me in this.”
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