Michigan Ready to Ban Smoking

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It appears Michigan will become the 38th state to institute a smoking ban as the state Senate passed a bill that had been approved by the House previously. The smoking ban applies to all bars and restaurants, but casinos would be exempt.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm supports the smoking ban. Although the bill would exempt casinos and cigar bars from the ban, smoking in restaurants within casinos reportedly also would not be allowed.

Some establishments in Michigan have not waited for a smoking ban to become law. Currently, 70 percent of Washtenaw County’s restaurants, for example, ban smoking, according to the county’s Environmental Health department.

Michigan joins the majority of other states that ban smoking, a movement that began with Minnesota in 1975. That state became the first to ban smoking in some public spaces with the passage of the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act. Minnesota exempted bars initially, but as of October 1, 2007, Minnesota banned smoking in all restaurants and bars across the state. In California, some areas have begun making entire cities smoke-free by not allowing smoking in any place except residential homes. More than 20 cities in California have beach and park smoking bans.

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A recent USA Today (December 7) article noted that some bar owners across the country choose to ignore smoking bans because they find that they make more by allowing smoking customers into their establishments than the fines they have to pay. Other bar owners, however, are not willing to risk losing their business by defying local and state smoking laws.

Smoking bans have been instituted largely because of the strong evidence supporting the health hazards of breathing secondhand smoke. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in toxins just like smokers do. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical compounds, and more than 60 of them are known or suspected to cause cancer.

Secondhand smoke has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency, the US National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization. The ACS reports that an estimated 46,000 deaths from heart disease occur each year in non-smokers who live with smokers. About 3,400 lung cancer deaths occur in non-smokers, and non-smokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke, and 150,000 to 300,000 lung infections occur in children younger than 18 months because of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Michigan’s imminent smoking ban is another step in a healthful direction. Governor Granholm has noted that once passed, the smoking ban will take effect in May 2010.

SOURCES:
American Cancer Society
AnnArbor.com 12/10/09
USA Today, Dec. 7, 2009

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