People Ban: MI State Update Page 3


Michigan MI State Update

Smoking Ban means Disaster for many Businesses

November 29, 2010
CONTACT: Lance Binoniemi (517) 374-9611
LANSING, November 29, 2010 – Michigan’s new Smoking Ban is taking a heavy economic toll on many bars and restaurants, according to data gathered directly from businesses in the hospitality industry over the past few months.
The Michigan Licensed Beverage Association recently conducted a survey of its members who hold liquor licenses, and the overwhelming majority of responses indicate declines in business beginning May 1, 2010, the date the Smoking Ban went into effect. The collected data also supports the MLBA’s predictions that a Smoking Ban will hit small, independent businesses the hardest.
“The Hospitality Industry had been weathering the recession relatively well,” said Lance Binoniemi, Executive Director of the MLBA. “Sales over the past couple years were slightly down across the board, as they have been in most sectors of the economy. But beginning on May 1, that all changed.”
The Smoking Ban caused an immediate impact on many businesses, with “regular” customers opting to either cut their visits short or stay home altogether. Promises and predictions by Smoking Ban supporters that new, non-smoking customers would make up for any losses have gone largely unfulfilled.
Particularly alarming in the survey results are the numbers coming in from the smallest businesses in the industry — those with annual sales less than $250,000. These are the businesses that are least likely to be able to survive a significant disruption on their bottom line, and unfortunately they are being hit hardest in the wake of the Smoking Ban.
“Anti-smoking groups continually cited the fact that only about 20 percent of Michiganders are smokers, and suggested time and time again that forcing businesses to go smoke-free would open up the other 80 percent of the market,” said Binoniemi. “Our objection to those assumptions unfortunately fell on deaf ears, and now the hard truth is showing up on the bottom lines of small business owners across the state.”
Supporters of the Smoking Ban routinely cite polling data that indicates upwards of 70 percent of Michigan residents support the ban. Unfortunately these numbers come from an online survey that was promoted largely by anti-smoking groups, and the poll itself allowed respondents to submit answers repeatedly. But even fairly-collected, unbiased data would not give a clear picture of how the ban has unintentionally devastated many businesses.
“Unfortunately, not every resident of Michigan is a frequent patron of the kinds of bars and restaurants that have been hurt by this ban,” said Binoniemi. “While we certainly respect the opinions of the purported 70 percent who support the ban, it is clear from sales numbers since May 1 that people who actually spend time and money in these establishments don’t feel the same way.” The disparity between the whole of the general public, and the subset of the public that makes up customers of bars and restaurants, was largely ignored by those in favor of the Smoking Ban.
“We’ve said from the beginning of Smoking Ban debates in Michigan that people will vote with their wallets, and we’re seeing exactly what customers of our businesses think of the Smoking Ban,” said Binoniemi. “A lot of hard-working, dedicated business owners are suffering, and many may have to close their doors.”
Prior to the Smoking Ban, roughly 5,500 foodservice establishments in Michigan had chosen to go smoke-free on their own, based on market conditions and customer demand, and more were going smoke-free all the time. “The free market was working every day to give non-smokers more options in Michigan,” said Binoniemi. “The main results of the Smoking Ban have been to hurt privately-owned businesses and limit the personal choices of responsible, law-abiding adults, plain and simple.”
Michigan Licensed Beverage Association
920 North Fairview — Lansing, MI 48912
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 4067 — East Lansing, MI 48826-4067
Phone: 877-292-2896 or 517-374-9612 or 9611
Fax: 517-374-1165

Effective ventilation beats smoking bans
November 18, 2010
If the public was truthfully informed about the effects of secondhand smoke, there would be fewer no-smoking laws.
There never has been a single study showing exposure to the low levels of smoke found in bars and restaurants with decent modern ventilation and filtration systems kills or harms anyone.
As to the annoyance of smoking, a compromise between smokers and non- smokers can be reached by setting a quality standard and the use of modern ventilation technology.
Air ventilation easily can create a comfortable environment that not only removes passive smoke, but also and especially the potentially serious contaminants that are independent from smoking.
THOMAS LAPRADE, Thunder Bay, Ontario,

One group claims banning cigarettes bans freedom
by Noël McLaren
BARAGA — Since 80 percent of Michigan’s population does not smoke, many were thrilled with the passing of the state’s smoke-free act in May.  The law bans smoking at restaurants and bars.
But American Legion Post 444 in Baraga says taking away their cigarettes is taking away their freedom.
“Smoking is a legal activity,” said Legion member Joseph O’Leary.  “Like it or not, tobacco is not heroin.  It is allowed as a legal activity and to prohibit it on private property, we think it’s unconstitutional.”
So what are they doing about it?  Well, they’re ignoring it.  Members were lighting up at the post earlier today.  After years of battling for freedom, these veterans intend to continue doing just that.
“They’re taking too many rights away nowadays, and the more they take away, the more they get away with it,” said Legion member Paul Adams.
“They’re just chipping away at so many things that we’re not going to recognize America in another generation,” added Legion member Michael Mleko.
In response, the health department has issued them a notice, and they’re running out of patience.
“We respect their right to challenge it,” said health officer Guy St. Germain.  “I do disagree, however, that this particular law is where they want to draw the line.  I think this law is clearly appropriate, and it’s got positive aspects for everyone.”
But the health department is taking it a step further since the Legion refuses to comply with the smoking ban.  They’ve ordered the Legion to stop serving food and beverage.
The Legion has also ignored that order, and they continue to provide full service and plan to take legal action.  But the health department is determined to put cigarettes out for good.  They’ve referred the issue to the state attorney general.

Smoking ban hurting the business at Michigan bar
by Piyush Diwan
It has been reported that owners of Michigan bowling alleys say the 6-week-old ban on smoking has hurt business at the bar.
Nancy McClain, owner of Belmar Lanes in Lincoln Park, told the Detroit Free Press, “Bowling, smoking and drinking go together.”
Owners like McClain have said that in the good old days a few weeks ago, bowlers would hang out in the bar for a drink and a cigarette once they were finished playing. But they remain optimistic, predicting more families will start showing up soon because of the absence of second-hand smoke.
It was further reported that Michigan leads the country in the number of bowlers certified by the United States Bowling Association, making the sport popular and big business. Many of those bowlers still smoke and some owners of bowling centers say about half their customers light up.
The Free Press reported on Saturday that owners worry about the coming winter, when smokers who want to dash outside for a quick cigarette will have to deal with snow and ice. Jennifer Edenburn, manager of the bowling alley at the Fern Hill Country Club, has already ordered covers smokers can put on to protect their bowling shoes.

Watch: Michigan Smoking Ban by Megan Whalen
April 20, 2010 West Michigan reacts to smoking ban
December 10, 2009
The Michigan Legislature has finished passing a smoking ban that exempts three Detroit casinos that compete with tribal casinos not affected by the ban.

Start of smoking bans doesn’t snuff out debate
April 27, 2010
The mystery when Michigan’s workplace smoking ban takes effect at 6 a.m. Saturday is what will happen.
Read MoreSmoking Bans
April 26, 2010
Earlier this year, the state of Kansas passed a ban on smoking indoors. Since then, a number of cities and states have followed suit in what appears to be a national trend.
In one week, Michigan will join 38 other states in banning smoking in public areas. Whether bar owners and local businesses will lose out financially has been the subject of years of debate in Lansing.
Next door, the state of Wisconsin has clarified it ban on smoking. The Wisconsin Assembly voted late last week to amend the statewide smoking ban and allow certain outdoor smoking facilities.
The amendment clarified the purpose and the language of the bill, closing a loophole allowing indoor smoking in some places.
Governor Jim Doyle signed the statewide smoking ban last May, prohibiting smoking in general public areas like workplaces, restaurants and bars.
California lawmakers have passed legislation banning smoking on all state beaches and parks. The bill passed earlier this month and imposes a $100 fine for anyone caught after January of next year. The legislation would ban smoking at state beaches and all other state parks. The move comes, in part, as a result of unsightly litter and trash. Only Maine has passed legislation aimed specifically at prohibiting smoking on beaches.
Cities are also considering smoking bans.
In the state of Texas, city councils are considering similar initiatives. The city of Kemah is considering an ordinance extending the city’s smoking ban to include bars and restaurant bars. People still would be allowed to smoke at outdoor bars and patios. In Wyoming, the Jackson City Council is talking about extending its smoking ban to bars selling only beer.
While many on both sides have expressed their opinion concerning bans on smoking, it seems, at least in one state, smoking bans have had a positive impact. In North Carolina, an indoor smoking ban has resulted in an 89 percent improvement in air quality. A state law that went into effect earlier this year prohibits smoking at nearly all restaurants and bars.

Yet, a consensus is hardly formed. Nearly a dozen states have refused to take up smoking bans, creating a divide. Whether this trend is sustainable is the question. Upcoming elections will likely halt any progress on proposals. With smoking still prevalent, voters who have yet to kick the habit likely represent significant voting populations.

Mich. lawmakers pass smoking ban; casinos exempt

December 10, 2009
LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Legislature passed a long-delayed smoking ban Thursday, with exceptions for three Detroit casinos that have to compete with tribal casinos not affected by the ban.
The Democrat-led House agreed Thursday afternoon to slight changes made by the Republican-led Senate earlier in the day. The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, who has said she’ll sign it.
The ban would take effect in May 2010. It applies to all bars, restaurants and work places, except for the Detroit casinos, cigar bars, tobacco specialty stores, home offices and motor vehicles.
The Senate approved a ban with no exceptions last year, but that bill failed in the House, which wanted the exceptions for the Detroit casinos. The House in May passed the bill adopted Thursday by the Senate.
With Granholm’s signature, Michigan would become the 38th state to limit smoking in public places such as government buildings and bars and restaurants, according to Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, who has kept alive the push for a statewide smoking ban. He favors a total ban, but was satisfied with the progress so far.
“We’ve moved the ball down the court, and even scored a basket,” he said of Thursday’s vote. “We haven’t scored a three-pointer.”
Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, also wanted casinos included in the ban but was pleased with the Senate vote.
“It will be a great day in this state when we are totally, 100 percent smoke free … (but) I’m very proud of what we’ve done today,” he said.
Several senators, including Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said they objected to the ban because it intruded on decisions bar and restaurant owners should make based on their customers’ desires.
“This is a blatant overreach by government,” Bishop said.
Among nearby states, only Indiana doesn’t have some type of smoking ban in place. Michigan lawmakers have been trying for more than a decade to pass a ban.
Some residents remain opposed to it, including Don Doze, 54, who was eating Thursday in the smoking section of a Big Boy restaurant in Detroit.
“I want to enjoy my food or drink, and enjoy my cigarette,” said Doze, a Detroit retiree who has smoked for decades. “I don’t want to walk away from my table to go outside and smoke.”
Heaven White, 35, of Detroit, who was sitting in the nonsmoking section of the same restaurant, said a ban on smoking in restaurants and the workplace is good. Still, she said smoking should be allowed in bars.
“Smoking goes with drinking,” White said. “That’s the place you go to be a bad girl, a bad boy.”
The House passed the smoking ban by a 75-30 vote Thursday. Thursday’s Senate vote was 24-13; one senator was absent.
Sen. Jim Barcia of Bay City was the only Democrat to oppose the ban in the Senate. Republicans voting against the ban were Jason Allen of Traverse City, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop of Rochester, Cameron Brown of Sturgis, Alan Cropsey of DeWitt, Valde Garcia of Howell, Jud Gilbert of Algonac, Mark Jansen of Grand Rapids, Wayne Kuipers of Holland, Randy Richardville of Monroe, Alan Sanborn of Richmond, Tony Stamas of Midland and Gerald Van Woerkom of Norton Shores.

Republican Bill Hardiman of Kentwood was absent.

MI: State Rep. Matt Lori is working with a bipartisan group of House lawmakers to figure out a new strategy for getting a smoking ban signed into law.

Detroit barkeeps head to Lansing to bounce smoking ban
Mark Hornbeck / Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Lansing — Detroit bar owners whose establishments are close to the Detroit casinos trekked to the state Capitol today to oppose legislation that would ban smoking in public places but make exceptions for casinos.
Tino Hammond, owner of Reggie’s Moulin Rouge in Detroit, said her business and her 40 employees will be in jeopardy if lawmakers approve the measure.
“This would just be the nail in the coffin,” she said at a news conference in Lansing. “Anybody in the downtown area would suffer tremendously. It would put us in jeopardy of closing in six to eight months.”
Christina Byrd, whose family owns Floods Bar & Grill in Detroit, said 30 percent to 35 percent of the lounge’s patrons smoke.
“We would be hit by this considerably and would have to downsize (the number of) our employees,” she said. Floods also has about 40 wait staff, security, cooks, dishwashers, bartenders and managers, she said.
Backers of the legislation say polls show the public wants a statewide workplace ban for health reasons. Casinos have argued a smoking prohibition that includes them would put them at a competitive disadvantage to Native American gaming halls, which would not be subject to the law.
The Senate is expected to take up the smoking ban bill this week, and Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, said he will introduce an amendment making exceptions for the Detroit casino floors, cigar bars and tobacco specialty shops. The ban would apply to the casino hotels and restaurants.
But Matt Marsden, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, said a ban with exceptions faces a tough road in the Senate.
“The majority leader’s position hasn’t changed. We’re still not inclined to tell businesses what to do about smoking policy, regardless of the health concerns,” Marsden said. “And if you’re making exceptions, you can’t argue the health issue.”
The Senate is not expected to take up the bill today.
Lance Binoniemi, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, said a smoking ban would cost the state about 7,500 jobs and an untold number of jobs among Detroit businesses affected by the casino exception.
He said outstate bars and restaurants also would be affected because some patrons who enjoy smoking would stay home. He cited studies of no smoking laws in St. Louis, Ontario and New York that indicate a loss of customers.
“People will be out less if there’s a smoking ban,” he said.
Some who frequent bars in Detroit and elsewhere in the state favor the ban.
“I have worked in bars for 40 years. It (smoke) has turned my guitar yellow, my speakers yellow… I hate to think about my lungs,” said musician Benny Jets of Inkster. “Get the smoking ban done now.”
Sen. Tupac Hunter, D-Detroit, on the Senate floor today called for quick action on a full smoking ban with no exceptions.
“The special carve-out for casinos is nothing but a knee-jerk response to lobbyists for casinos and their scare tactics” about job losses, Hunter said. “People are dying and health costs are skyrocketing.” (313) 222-2470

Bill lets Mich. towns decide on restaurant smoking
August 25, 2009
LANSING, Mich. (AP) – A Michigan lawmaker says local governments should be able to ban smoking in restaurants and bars since a proposed statewide ban is stalled in the Legislature.
A bill sponsored by Rep. Gary McDowell would let each county, city, township and village decide if people can smoke in local bars and restaurants.
Michigan law allows only the Legislature to ban smoking in food establishments.
McDowell says the law should be changed because legislators will not pass a statewide ban.
The Rudyard Democrat had planned to testify Wednesday in a House committee, but his bill has been taken off the agenda.

Health advocates say customers and restaurant workers should be protected from secondhand smoke. Businesses say they – not government – should decide whether to prohibit smoking on private property.

The Biggest Threat to Freedom: Ideologues In Extremis

March 27, 2009
Candace Talmadge

“. . . a free intelligence, a type hated with equal hatred by all the smelly little orthodoxies which are now contending for our souls.”
–George Orwell, Charles Dickens, 1939

Michael Siegel is a public health physician who has testified against tobacco companies in seven major trials, including the Florida case that in 2000 resulted in the largest-to-date jury punitive award. He favors smoking bans in all public places and workspaces.

Siegel, however, instantly became a pariah among the anti-tobacco movement. Why? He dared question, in an editorial recently published in Tobacco Control, the trend toward banning smokers from the workplace instead of merely proscribing their habit.

Morphing from hero to goat isn’t an experience unique to Siegel by any means. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker had similar rage directed at her last fall when she finally had enough of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and dared express that opinion in public. Author Frank A. Schaeffer, prominent in evangelical political circles during the 1970s and 1980s, was equally ostracized when he published a revealing book about the religious right.

Smelly little orthodoxies, alas, were not confined to George Orwell’s time in the first half of the 20th Century. They live on in ever more virulent variants. The problem is that almost every worthwhile idea or cause, taken to an unyielding extreme, starts doing more harm than good. It contracts into an ideology, and the most extreme (and thus most vocal) adherents of which brook no dissent or even mere questions.

Right-wing or left-leaning, the ideologues are making it impossible for the rest of us to discuss issues or move toward policies and legislation that offer something for all sides to accept and support.

The environmental movement is typical and tragic. How did being “green” devolve solely into opposing human-generated carbon dioxide emissions? What about real air pollutants like human-generated sulfur, nitrous oxides, ash or mercury? Human beings for millennia have been inhaling carbon dioxide with every breath of air they take in, to no ill effect whatsoever. The other airborne contaminants, however, are harmful to lungs and health.

Yet we hear almost nothing about reducing actual pollutants because the focus is always on carbon dioxide reduction. This is insane, but also very useful to those parties that still emit actual pollutants or who want to benefit financially from proposed reduction programs like carbon taxes or cap-and-trade systems.

Talk about weapons of mass distraction. Of course, when we finally come to our senses and acknowledge that carbon dioxide isn’t a greenhouse gas and isn’t contributing to global temperature fluctuations, the CO2 fear-mongers will have done real credibility damage to critical environmental causes.

No, this isn’t an argument in favor of smoking or pollution. It’s about standing up for free-thinking and the freedom to think unpopular thoughts, express unpopular opinions or do unpopular things.

It’s also very much about how well-meaning people seem only too eager to legislate personal freedom out of existence for others when those others are doing something the first group doesn’t like or approve of. The road to hell – and dictatorship – is paved with good intentions.

Enough already. Freedom of speech is a constitutional right. Smoking remains legal for those aged 18 and older. Too many seem to forget these pesky little details in their zest for making the world somehow safer by attacking what they don’t like or approve of.

Who will guard the rest of us from these self-appointed guardians? Especially the ones shoving their data down our throats like it is holy writ.

University of Michigan to go completely smoke free in 2011
April 20th, 2009
By Nicole Aber, Daily Staff Reporter
All three University campuses will be smoke free when a new policy announced by University administrators yesterday takes effect on July 1, 2011.
The initiative is meant to reduce the health risks associated with secondhand smoke and reduce health costs associated with smoking.
“A healthier, smoke-free physical environment will only enhance the intellectual vigor of our campuses,” University President Mary Sue Coleman wrote in an campus-wide e-mail yesterday. “Our decision to become smoke-free aligns perfectly with the goals of MHealthy to improve the health of our community.”
University Chief Health Officer Robert Winfield and School of Public Health Dean Kenneth Warner will co-chair the Smoke Free University Steering Committee, which is charged with creating a dialogue on campus about the policy in order to get input from students, faculty and staff.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily, Winfield said the policy is aimed at reducing secondhand smoke around campus in order to improve the overall health of the University community.
“Certainly irritation of secondhand smoke is an issue and what’s also important is doing the right thing for the health of the community,” Winfield said.
According to Winfield, another major reason for implementing the policy is to decrease the cost of health care for University faculty and staff. Within five years of implementing such a policy, Winfield said health care costs usually start to decline.
“We learned that the health care costs are at least $2,000 more per year for people who smoke than for nonsmokers,” he added.
According to a press release on the policy, about 14 percent of University employees are smokers. A 2006 survey found that about 16 percent of University students smoke one or more cigarettes a month, according to Winfield.
There will be five subcommittees — one each for students, community relations, faculty and staff, communications and grounds and facilities — working to create the best way to implement the policy, Winfield said.
In order to help smokers transition into a community with this new policy, the University will offer free behavioral counseling and discounts on over-the-counter smoking cessation products for students, faculty and staff. University employees will also have reduced co-pays on prescription cessation products, Winfield said.
In the fall of 2010, Winfield said the committee will bring the proposed policy before University administrators for an official review.
But until that point, Winfield said there are still several questions as to how the policy will be implemented to create a smooth transition for all members of the University community. Because this plan is still in the developmental stages, Winfield said it is important to get input from many different groups on campus, as well as from other private companies that neighbor University property.
“What we want to do is hear from people about how we can get from here to our goal, and what that goal will look like in terms of impact on people,” Winfield said.
Winfield brought up various challenges that may arise with the implementation of such a policy, including how to deal with smoking at football game tailgates, near performing arts centers and on the University golf course, in which guests of the University are often present.
Winfield discussed the policy with members of the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs at its meeting yesterday, and said another concern is how to handle potential apprehensions of international students who may come from countries in which smoking is an intricate part of their culture or national tradition.
The University’s Department of Public Safety will not give out tickets for violations of the policy, Winfield said, but specific repercussions for disobeying the policy are being discussed. There will also be changes made to the Statement of the Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook to reflect the new policy, he said.
Winfield said he expects there will be some dissent regarding the policy, but that in two years time, most of the dialogue will be exhausted.
“I think most smokers understand that over the years their behavior is not conducive to nonsmokers, and I suspect that those smokers have come to grips with this to some degree,” he said.
Similar policies have already been implemented on more than 260 college campuses across the country, including the University of California at San Francisco, Indiana University and the University of Iowa, according to the press release.
Karen Whitney, chair of the Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis Smoking Policy, said the tobacco-free policy was well received by members of the university community when it was implemented in August 2006.
Whitney, IUPUI’s dean of students, said the smoke-free policy’s compliance with the university’s mission as a health and life sciences campus has allowed the university to be highly successful in its implementation of the regulation.
“It has significantly reduced smoking on university property,” Whitney said. “It has changed and reformed the campus. It is now considered unacceptable to smoke on campus.”
Whitney said while the policy has improved the air quality on campus, there is no evidence that it has reduced the cost of health care for its faculty and staff.
But smoke-free policies are not welcomed by all, including George Koodray, New Jersey state coordinator for The Smoker’s Club of the Citizens Freedom Alliance.
Koodray said banning smoking on college campuses is part of a growing trend to punish people for non-obtrusive, legal behavior.
“We don’t understand why in America the law should penalize people for a practice that’s not offensive to anyone,” Koodray said. “This kind of a ban on the consumption of a legal product doesn’t have adverse affects on anyone. We just can’t understand where this policy is coming from.”
Koodray said everyone, including nonsmokers should be worried about the implementation of this policy, as it could lead to bans on other legal substances.
“A lot of people may not object to this kind of policy because they don’t smoke,” Koodray said. “But down the road, it’s a slippery slope, where we see this taking form to other prohibitions in the future that people don’t approve of but are completely legal.”
Engineering freshman Chris Pike, a smoker, said although he thinks the University shouldn’t be able to conduct students’ personal behavior, it is still a good thing they are trying to implement.
“I guess they can tell us what to do; it’s a public university,” Pike said. “But we pay to go here. They should be giving us some freedoms.”

Anti-Smoking Zealots’ Agenda Not About the Science
February 27, 2009
Candace Talmadge

Anti-tobacco zealots have smoke pouring from their ears over an editorial published recently in Tobacco Control. The piece, co-authored by public health physician Michael Siegel and University of Washington sociology graduate student Brian Houle, questions the ethics and the effectiveness of the rush to ban smokers from the workplace instead of just their habit of lighting up.

Surprise, surprise. The war on smoking is, in reality, a war on smokers. Just like the war on obesity is really a fatwa against fat people and the war on drugs is really an assault on small-time recreational drug users.

In the editorial, Siegel and Houle write that as of August 2008, 21 states and more than 400 U.S. cities had laws requiring 100 percent smoke-free workplaces. Nine Canadian provinces, six Australian states and territories and 14 other countries have banned smoking in workplaces as well, including restaurants and bars.

Siegel, a long-time smoking-ban advocate and tobacco company nemesis, is a professor and associate chair of academics in the social and behavioral sciences department of the Boston University School of Public Health. He is so concerned about the trend toward parting smokers from their jobs that, in addition to the article, he established a web site to discuss this issue.

This site, the Center for Public Accountability in Tobacco Control, lists the growing numbers of employers going beyond just bans on workplace smoking. They now demand that workers quit smoking altogether or be fired, try to stretch their tobacco bans to employees’ spouses and refuse to hire anyone who smokes. The list includes the City of Atlantic Beach, Fla., Clarian Health, The Cleveland Clinic, Crown Laboratories, The Homac Companies, Medical Mutual, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Truman Medical Centers, Weyco and the World Health Organization.

Siegel and Houle argue that this trend is discriminatory and possibly counterproductive. Smokers who lose their jobs in the United States often lose access to health insurance and thus medical care, putting their health in jeopardy and making it that much harder for them to quit smoking. Only 26 states have laws that prohibit employment discrimination against workers for smoking or other legal activities off the job.

“We in tobacco control have been arguing for decades just how addictive nicotine is,” Siegel says in an interview. “If smoking is so addictive, how can anyone argue that smokers can just quit?” Indeed, a Florida jury recently found that a 40-year chain smoker died because he was helplessly addicted to nicotine and could not give up cigarettes.

Moreover, the anti-smoker employment trend “opens the door to any kind of lifestyle category being used in employment decisions,” Sigel says. “What kind of discrimination is next?”

How about discrimination against fat people or diabetics? The article notes that Clarian, an Indianapolis-based hospital system, plans to fine not only workers who smoke, but those whose body mass index exceeds 30, and employees whose blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels are too high.

Siegel seems genuinely puzzled by the venomous reaction to his editorial. He has been accused of taking tobacco company money, which he says is simply not the case. “I have been more vigorously attacked by my own colleagues than I was ever attacked by the tobacco industry.”

He maintains that the science is simply not there to support those who want to ban smokers from employment, but it does not seem to matter.  “Tobacco control is turning into an ideology,” he says. “Even if you use science to argue against the ideology, you are viewed as a traitor or a denier.”

Let’s break this gently to the good doctor. The entire tobacco control movement has rarely been about the science, just as the quaint phrase “states rights” was rarely about the actual rights of states vs. the rights of the federal government. In the latter case, “state rights” was a socially acceptable fig-leaf phrase for those who wanted to maintain racially discriminatory laws.

In tobacco control, the ideologues are running amok, buoyed by their success against the tobacco industry. “More and more,” Siegel writes on his web site, “communities, college campuses, and other entities are reaching beyond the science and banning smoking everywhere, not in order to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke exposure, but to protect nonsmokers from ever having to see a smoker. Smoking is being treated as a moral affront, not merely as a health hazard.”

How thin the line between health hazard and moral blight.

IPCPR Salutes Michigan Legislature for Not Enacting Smoking Ban
LANSING, Michigan Dec. 19, 2008 – Michigan State lawmakers should be saluted for failing to compromise on a proposed statewide smoking ban before its 2007-2008 session came to an end this week, according to Chris McCalla, legislative director of the International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association.
“The state of Michigan does not need more legislated restrictions on smoking in privately-owned  places. Smoking bans are wrong because they are anti-business and they are based on misleading biases. This is one case where the failure of the Senate and the House to compromise on an issue resulted in the correct conclusion,” McCalla said.
McCalla said that his organization and its 45 IPCPR retail members throughout the state helped make the difference in the Michigan campaign.
“Our members are basically neighborhood cigar store owners who recruited thousands of their customers who, in turn, made their voices heard in opposition to the proposed legislation. Without these tobacconists and their customers, it may not have gone our way. At the same time, we fully understand that this may be only a temporary win and that the anti-smoking forces may well resume the battle in 2009,” he said.
McCalla was hopeful that lawmakers in next year’s session would take a more rational view of the matter by analyzing more closely the alleged facts offered by anti-smoking forces and by showing a higher regard for all citizens of Michigan – business owners and consumers, smokers and non-smokers.
“The anti-smoking forces base their claims on poorly constructed studies that are designed to reach conclusions not supported by actual data. The problem is, all too often, those false claims and studies are accepted without being challenged as to their source, methodology or funding,” he pointed out.
“Many businesses – including restaurants and bars – already prohibit smoking in their establishments. The owners of those businesses made that decision and that’s the way it should be,” McCalla added.
“It should be left up to individual business owners to decide whether or not they allow smoking on their premises. Their employees and customers can then decide whether or not to work there or patronize them. The bottom line is that, although nothing happens to anyone if he or she gets an incidental whiff of secondhand smoke, if you don’t want to smell smoke, don’t go into an establishment that allows smoking.”
Tony Tortorici

Research & Commentary:
What A Smoking Ban Would Mean for Michigan
November 11, 2008
People often support smoking bans in order to be protected from the nuisance of smoking environments in restaurants, bars, casinos, and other businesses. Less attention is given, unfortunately, to protecting the economy and property rights, both of which are deeply threatened by smoking bans.
Many businesses have already gone smoke-free or tailored their establishments in order to attract non-smokers. There’s no need to violate the property rights of business owners by preventing them from setting such rules themselves–just as we would not violate the rights of consumers to choose which establishments businesses they want to patronize.
Many studies have shown that smoking bans have hurt small businesses, especially in the hospitality and gaming industries. In Ohio, for example, the Department of Job and Family Services predicted a 10,000-job gain for the state’s hospitality and leisure industry prior to the ban’s implementation. In reality, during the first 12 months of the smoking ban the industry LOST 5,400 jobs.
Casinos are also struggling greatly since implementation of statewide smoking bans. Since the beginning of 2008, the cumulative adjusted gross receipts of Illinois casinos are down 18.35 percent from where they were at this time last year, before the smoking ban was implemented. By comparison, casinos in Indiana and Iowa–neighboring states where smoking is still allowed on gaming floors–continue to outperform those in Illinois.
Violating the rights of smokers (who are using a legal product, after all) and the businesses that cater to them is wrong–especially when the free market already provides both smoking and non-smoking environments from which employees and customers can freely choose. The free market is the best and fairest mechanism for accommodating the concerns and wants of citizens.
John Nothdurft
The Heartland Institute
Legislative Specialist, Budget and Tax Policy
19 South LaSalle Street #903
Chicago, IL 60603
Ph: 312-377-4000 x122
Cell: 662-801-2707
www.heartland.orgNote:  This Research and Commentary is being sent out in response to the Michigan Legislature possibly looking at passing a smoking ban during their lame duck session coming up later this month. It is also being sent out to the Michigan Legislature this week. Suggestions and critiques are always encouraged.



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