MDCH Director Urges State Legislature to pass Smoke-Free Law

Contact: James McCurtis (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

December 15, 2008

The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is once again strongly encouraging the Michigan State Legislature to pass a law banning second hand smoking in public places including restaurants and bars. While attempting to reach a compromise, the state Legislature recently pondered the idea of allowing businesses to avoid the ban by buying a special permit.

"While compromise may be needed, the state Legislature must protect its citizens from second hand smoke," said MDCH Director Janet Olszewski. "Michigan needs a strong, firm, concrete law that outright bans smoking in public places. Allowing businesses to buy their way out of the law would be unacceptable and unfair to Michigan residents."

Second hand smoke is the third leading preventable cause of death and when smoking occurs in the workplace, employees find they are exposed to cancer causing substances all day long. Research has shown that tobacco smoke has more than 4,000 chemicals of which 60 are known carcinogens. Contrary to popular belief, separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposures to secondhand smoke.

MDCH understands the urgency of passing a smoke-free law during the lame duck session, which officially ends Dec. 30. The department is asking state legislators to put aside political gamesmanship and do what is appropriate for Michigan residents.