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Support Building for State to ‘Butt Out’ of Outdoor Restaurants’ Smoking Policies

A state representative has gathered 12 co-sponsors in his effort to rescind the ban on smoking at outdoor restaurant patios and sidewalk cafés. What do you think?

Legislation introduced in November would roll back Legislation introduced in mid-November would roll back a provision of Michigan's restaurant smoking ban pertaining to sidewalk cafés or patios outside of restaurants. Patch file photo
Legislation introduced in November would roll back Legislation introduced in mid-November would roll back a provision of Michigan's restaurant smoking ban pertaining to sidewalk cafés or patios outside of restaurants. Patch file photo

Smokers may be able to light up on outdoor restaurant patios and sidewalk cafés if a bipartisan group of legislators have their say.

A bill sponsored by state Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, to repeal the provision of Michigan’s restaurant smoking ban that pertains to restaurants’ outdoor facilities, the Detroit Free Press reports.

McMillin, who plans to run for the state Senate, said he’s heard from a number of bar and restaurant owners who regard the ban “as blatant over-regulation and usurping the rights of business owners to make their own rules on their own property.”

Joining McMillin as co-sponsors are Republicans Jeff Farrington, Dale W. Zorn, Bill Rogers, Frank Foster, Pat Somerville,Dan Lauwers, Kevin Daley, Bruce R. Rendon, Ed McBroom and Ken Goike, and Democrats Harold L. Haugh and Douglas A. Geiss.

The proposal would apply to outdoor facilities that are less than 50 percent enclosed and, if approved, would give restaurants the discretion to their patrons to light up.

DISCUSS: Do you support rescinding the portion of Michigan’s Smoke-Free Air Law that applies to outdoor restaurant patios and sidewalk cafés? Tell us why or why not in the comments.

McMillin and his supporters are joined by Rod Lockwood, the wealthy developer from Birmingham who gained notoriety early last year when he proposed buying Belle Island for 41 billion and turning it into a separate state with no taxes, reportedly said that the ban burdens small business owners with excessive regulations.

The proposed legislation has left supporters of the Michigan Smoke-Free Air Law, which passed in 2009, fuming.

Marx Cooper, 82, of Oak Park said Michiganders have grown accustomed to cleaner air at restaurants and will work to snuff out talk of rescinding the ban, which would apply to outdoor facilities that are less than 50 percent enclosed.

He worked at no pay as executive director of Michigan Citizens for Smoke-Free Air, which lobbied extensively for the ban.

A Royal Oak restaurateur and former smoker who originally opposed the ban said she wants to keep her restaurant, which includes two patios with a total capacity for 46 diners, to remain smoke free.

“I’m really over the days of the dirty ashtray,” said Carrie O’Neill, who owns Rock on Third in Royal Oak and is president of the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. “Even though this would be outside, still, for the nonsmoker, they’d be smelling it.”

O’Neill, a former smoker, said she’s sure her

McMillin will gather supporters at the Godfather Cigar & Martini Lounge in Rochester Wednesday to talk about the proposed legislation and raise money for his Senate campaign.

Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. December 02, 2013 at 02:39 PM
Wait. "Support building" for this bad idea? Where is the reporting to back up the headline's contention? Twelve bill sponsors among 110 reps and one crackpot millionaire? The Freep's online poll has 88% of 1,700 voters opposed to it. Michiganders like not being forced to breathe toxic fumes in public places, and this bill will go nowhere.
Jim Sparks December 02, 2013 at 09:25 PM
Sorry, Mr. McDiarmid. It's about time bar and restaurant owners were free to decide what's best for their businesses, not be forced by nanny-state proponents to acquiesce to their demands. These "public places" you speak of are also privately owned. Now, I am not enthralled with the choking cigarette smoke that used to be found in many of these establishments, but the law has gone too far in this case. There are still a great many folks who choose to smoke, regardless of it's downsides, and they deserve the same rights as any other. Banishment seems overly harsh. Effective segregation seems more equitable. If a particular establishment determines that their regular clientele is largely made up of smokers, then it is in their best interests to accommodate it. Don't like smelling smoke in a restaurant (excepting maybe a BBQ joint, I'd guess)? DON'T GO THERE. Don't want to work in one of these places? WORK SOMEWHERE ELSE. The air we breathe outside is chock full of interesting and potentially dangerous stuff. Do you stay inside? A few folks sitting outside a bar smoking cigarettes hardly ranks with those as serious threats. And we are just talking about outside - the interior of these businesses would still remain smoke-free (again excepting the BBQ joint, or steak houses...). The insistence on having EVERYONE comply simply because it might sully a molecule of the air THEY breathe is ludicrous. The businesses that allow smoking with either thrive on catering to it's loyal customer's desires, or lose business because of the exodus of those bothered by the smell. There will be plenty of places for the smoke-averse to choose from (likely far, far more than smokers will have), and the rights of everyone, not just a vocal, finger-wagging group will be respected.
Andy December 03, 2013 at 12:36 AM
awful idea, it is so nice now to be able to eat in restaurants without having to breathe in toxic carcinogens and secondhand smoke and stink up our hair and clothes, wish the casinos would do the same, I volunteer at hospice and I wish the many people I know that smoke could be see patients with lung cancer and other smoking related illnesses and then maybe they would have some sense to give up this idiotic habit
TN December 03, 2013 at 07:43 AM
Is anyone else sick of this exhausting libertarian, Tea Party talking point nonsense? If our state government, by prohibiting the the poisoning of restaurant customers, employees, and passersby, is a "nanny state," then pass me a bottle and rock me to sleep.
Jim Sparks December 04, 2013 at 10:01 PM
TN: Many of us are sick of nosey do-gooders who insist on forcing their own opinions and fears upon everyone else. "Poisoning"??As it is, you sit on an outside patio, mostly near heavy vehicle traffic, and breathe in whatever is spewed from their tailpipes. Should we ban traffic near outdoor patios? No - that would be silly. As I stated above, you and anyone else are absolutely free to avoid the few establishments that might choose to cater to the millions of folks who choose to smoke. But, as usual, you and your ilk insist that everyone comply with your whims, because you feel somehow superior to those with opposing viewpoints. Very likely, you would never patronize ALL of the restaurants and bars you seek to control - but, no matter, it'll make you FEEL good to have coerced others in to compliance. By the way - I am NOT a "tea partier", nor a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian. I in fact lean liberal politically. But I think you do your and my) larger cause a disservice by insisting on micro-managing everyone else's lives. It's mob rule under the guise of "protecting" others. What's next? Legislating mandatory flu shots? Prohibiting everyone from eating unhealthy food? Mandating vitamin consumption? Please - save us from the pious and self-gratifying extremists out there. Mind you OWN business, and others (hopefully) will follow suit.
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. December 18, 2013 at 04:19 PM
We'll have to agree to disagree Jim. Taken to its logical extreme, there should be no law requiring smoke detectors or fire suppression in restaurants either, as customers are free to choose establishments with fire protection. Or non-skid flooring in the kitchens and dishrooms. I don't think protecting workers and patrons from second-hand smoke is micromanagement. And, I'm old enough to remember the nanny-state outcry when indoor smoking was banned in the newsrooms I worked in.....we have come a long way.
Jim Sparks December 20, 2013 at 09:24 AM
OK Hugh, I'll agree to disagree. But your equation of non-smoking policy with fire suppression and alarm is specious. One protects patrons and property from imminent and catastrophic injury or death, the other merely from a waft of cigarette smoke. Say what you will about second-hand smoke - it hardly presents an immediate and inescapable threat. Again, taking your logic to the extreme... why not ban unhealthy food at all restaurants? Or alcohol for that matter? Both have the potential to adversely affect people's health. Why not mandate flu shots, or face masks and surgical gloves for the sick, ostensibly to "protect" the public at large? Government has an important role in aiding and fostering better lives for many, but there are some things that are better left to individual decision-making. As I've said, particular establishments will thrive or fail as a result of the customer's choice, based on their policies. And that's the way it should be.
Hugh McDiarmid, Jr. December 20, 2013 at 11:43 AM
Consuming alcohol or unhealthy food in a restaurant does not affect other patrons or staff.....second-hand smoke does and I believe it's pretty clear that prolonged exposure to it (think of wait staff in a smoky bar 40 hrs/week) does come with significant health risks. Anyway, Happy Holidays to you Jim Sparks!

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