2009-12-27 / Harbor Beach Times

Michigan to become 38th smokefree state

SUBMITTED BY KRISTI PITTS HURON COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT

Michigan workers and smokefree air advocates can all breathe a healthy, smokefree sigh of relief! After more than a decade of pushing for smokefree air legislation advocates were rewarded with a pre-holiday victory in Lansing on December 10, 2009.

the state Senate substituted language to tighten up the exemptions for cigar bars and tobacco specialty shops, and also to limit the Detroit casino exemptions to the gaming floor areas only (bars and restaurants within the casinos will be smokefree). Citizens for Smokefree Air (CSA) were able to fight off additional amendment attempts to include racetracks in the exemptions, and also to allow restaurants and bars to purchase a permit from the state to exempt themselves (sometimes call "permit to kill"). In the end, the legislation was approved by the Senate, 24-13.

In a rare move, the House decided to take up the bill on the same day, and concurred with the Senate changes, 5-30 (more votes than the bill had the first time it moved through the House earlier this year).

House Bill 4377 now heads to Governor Jennifer Granholm's desk for approval. The governor has indicated that she will sign the bill. The effect date in May 1, 2010.

"Legislators have given Michigan workers the greatest gift of all - the ability to breathe smokefree air in the workplace," said Susan Schechter, CSA spokesperson and director of advocacy at the American Lung Association of Michigan. "We have spent more than a decade fighting for the health of Michigan workers and our efforts have finally prevailed."

Michigan is the 38th state to enact smokefree legislation. Currently, only 12 states have not yet made any efforts to protect their employees for the dangers of secondhand smoke.

The final agreement also names the new law after Dr. Ron Davis, a former East Lansing resident who lost his battle with pancreatic cancer last year. Davis was the immediate past president of the American Medical Association and director of the Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention at Henry Ford Health Systems in Detroit. He was a long-time advocate of smokefree air in Michigan.

While a bill signing date has not been determined yet, smokefree advocates are proud of the achievements Michigan has made to become a smokefree state.

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