An updated story on problems associated with enforcing the state smoking ban is available here: Smoking Ban Enforcement and Information Problems
On December 18, 2009, Governor Granholm signed a smoking ban bill into law. This new law, called the Dr. Ron Davis Law, will be put into action on May 1, 2010. The Dr. Ron Davis Law will officially ban smoking throughout the state of Michigan. Smoking will be banned in all public places including workplaces, restaurants, and bars. This law even goes as far as to ban smoking on the patios of restaurants.
The language of the Dr. Ron Davis Law, as provided in the bill, specifies that not only does the law prevent smoking in public places, but also at any public meetings and at government agencies. Furthermore, the owner of the bar, restaurant, or workplace must make an effort to prevent customers or workers from smoking on the premises. Not only does the law ban smoking but it places regular US citizens in charge of carrying out this new law, and does not take the typical police force approach. Obviously police will be involved when smoking is occurring in bars or restaurants, but they are not the main enforcers in this case.
The bill defines all the terms used and also describes specific measures that must be taken in order for this law to be properly carried out. For example, there are sections describing what a valid attempt by company owners to prohibit individuals from smoking would be. One of these sections explains that the owner of the public place must post no smoking signs.
Along with the original language of the law, there are two major exceptions. One exception is for cigar bars and tobacco specialty retail stores. Both businesses must file an affidavit with the department, and after approval, they are allowed to permit smoking of only cigars in the cigar bar, or in the retail store customers are allowed to smoke. The bill contains specific definitions of cigar bars or retail stores and the actions that must be taken in order to be considered one of either type of establishment. The second exception is for casinos. The bill states that casinos which have been established before the date that the bill takes place are permitted to allow smoking in the gaming area of the casino only. But, casinos established after May 1, 2010 are not allowed to permit smoking. A clause in this bill exempts casinos that are operating under the Indian gaming regulatory act.
The end of the first part of the bill defines the penalties for not complying with the Dr. Ron Davis Law. These penalties mostly include fines for the businesses, no more than 100 for the first offense and no more than 500 for the second offense.
The bill contains a second part related specifically to food service establishments. Absolutely no smoking is allowed in these establishments, including those attached to a mall. The bill also contains a clause stating that food industries are not permitted to discriminate against employees who choose to smoke.
Currently, there are twenty four states that have a state wide ban on smoking much like the ban Michigan will be putting into action in May. Of the remaining states, twelve have some anti-smoking laws whether it is that smoking is banned in restaurants, bars, in non-hospitality workplaces or any combination of the three. This leaves thirteen states that have no statewide ban whatsoever. The thirteen states that have no statewide ban simply rely on the Clean Indoor Air Act to restrict smoking. The Clean Indoor Air Act in a very broad set of laws specific to each state that restricts smoking in indoor workplaces and schools. These states do however restrict smoking further by county. For example, Texas has no statewide ban but many of its individual counties have a ban on smoking in restaurants or bars along with numerous other places.
With this new and strict ban on smoking, there could be many implication issues involved. Not only will it be a major adjustment for this state to change its smoking habits, but there will now be extra costs and effort necessary for restaurant and bar owners. For example, if a customer is smoking, a bar or restaurant owner must ask that person to stop smoking and eventually ask them to leave the restaurant. This can lose the restaurant future business from that customer, or if the owner chooses not to take this action, the restaurant could be fined by the Michigan government.
Retail tobacco stores and cigar bars will now have a lot of extra paperwork to go through in order to maintain their current smoking policies. Both the retail tobacco stores and the cigar bars must complete paperwork every year and are subject to provide further documentation to ensure that the establishment meets the requirements laid out in the bill. This extra paper work requires a lot of time on the store owners part, especially considering that none of this was necessary when the store first opened.
Casinos do not suffer a lot of implementation issues. Restaurants and non-gaming areas must become non-smoking but this does not require a lot of work on the part of the casino. If someone is smoking outside the gaming area all they would have to do is step back in the gaming area and since the casino already employs security guards, these employees could easily ask customers to smoke only in the gaming area. Casinos established after May 1, 2010 will be unable to allow smoking anywhere. They will not have to change the rules of their casino, nor add anything minus a few no smoking signs.
Many American citizens smoke, but most tend to smoke more at social events; either when they are drinking, going out to eat with friends, or doing one of many activities that takes place inside a public place. It has become habit for many people to pull out a cigarette at a bar and light it up or to request the smoking section at a restaurant.
Although this bill only affects those living in Michigan, there are still many people who portray the habits of a true smoker. Not only are there the everyday smokers but some people have picked up the habit of smoking socially. These people only smoke when they are out with friends. For both groups of people, not being able to smoke when out at a restaurant, bowling, at a bar, or walking through a casino means that for a majority of their day, depending on their lifestyle, they cannot smoke. Social smokers will be forced to quit smoking and everyday smokers will be forced to cut back on their daily amount of cigarettes. Although the long term effects will be extremely beneficial to Michigan and its citizens, forcing people to cut back on smoking is going to be more difficult that the government realizes. Habit is a hard thing to break, especially when dealing with people who have no desire to stop smoking.