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    Representative Douglas Geiss of Taylor recently introduced House Bill 4536, which would weaken the ban on smoking in Michigan public areas. Rep. Geiss says Michigan’s current legislation treats smokers like “dogs” (Anders) by forcing them to stand outside in the cold and rain to enjoy a cigarette. Therefore, his bill asks for more lenient regulations against bars and clubs. The bill is a well thought out approach for smokers to have a private smoking room which would “close an hour before normal business hours to allow time to vent out before any employees would have to go in for cleaning or maintenance” (Anders). Yet, this legislation has already failed twice before in attempt to gain support from the Michigan House and Senate. This may be because of the American Cancer Society’s strong opposition to lifting any bans, or to the rising public support for the ban.

    .

    In 2011, the public support for Michigan’s smoking ban reached 74%, an eight percent increase from 2009. When legislators take a look at The American Cancer Society’s data from the past few years, they see that the current legislation does not serve as a problem to voters. The positive support from the public is also why the state’s compliance number after the first year of the legislation was only 1,126 compared to Ohio’s 54,619 (King). In recent news, “more than 90 U.S. municipalities or counties considering an outdoor smoking law” (Stobbe). Yet, in addition to Representative Geiss, some people say this may be too much. Even Simon Chapman, who “won a prestigious American Cancer Society award for his anti-smoking efforts,” (Stobbe) believes such legislation can open Pandora’s box, in a sense, “And then is it legitimate to say that any behavior that people don’t like should be disapproved of because people might see it?” (Stobbe). Yet, federal health official say there is “no risk-free level of secondhand smoke,” even outdoors. (King).

    In Atlanta, for example, a violation for smoking in an outdoor park could cost you $1,000 (Stobbe). Soon enough, there may be a new bill against Representative Geiss that bans smoking in a similar manner. People, like Brianna Mills of Atlanta, are left saying, “Where can you smoke?” (Stobbe). Smoking faces many similar laws as drinking. Many times drinking in public areas is illegal but people are free to do so in the comfort of their backyards or in bars specifically created for a people to leisurely and freely drink as they please. House Bill 4651 is one that allows for cigar bars to be exempt from smoking bans. No amount of regulations can end all smoking; therefore, it is still important to respect those who do smoke by creating laws that allow for people to smoke without harming putting others’ health at risk. Cigar bars that require an hour of ventilation before those who close to clean is a compromise that benefits all.

    In the end, three times will probably not be a charm for Representative Geiss. His bill is coming from the opposite direction the state of Michigan is headed. Upcoming regulations will only increase and, some may argue, make it more difficult for smokers to have freedom. With health official advocating from large organizations against cancer, the public supports the government’s power to keep everyone healthy. However, comments similar to Brianna Mills’ will only increase in addition to questions about our “free country” (Stobbe) ideals.

    Sources

    Anders, Melissa. “Michigan Smoking Ban Goes Too Far, Lawmaker Says.” MLive.com. 15 April 2013. MLive. 9 Aug. 2013. http://www.mlive.com/business/index.ssf/2013/04/michigan_lawmaker_continues _to.html

    King, Kyla. “Michigan's Smoking Ban Popular, Compliance High, Studies Say.” MLive.com. 19 May 2011. MLive. 9 Aug 2013. http://www.mlive.com/health/index.ssf /2011/05/public_opinion_and_compliance.html

    Stobbe, Mike. “Anti-Smoking Battle Moves Outdoors; Bans Increase.” DetroitNews.com. 8 Aug. 2013. The Detroit News. 9 Aug. 2013. http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20130808/LIFESTYLE03/308080077/1040/li festyle03/Anti-smoking-battle-moves-outdoors-bans-increase

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    The Michigan Policy Network is a student-led public education and research program to report and organize news and information about the political process surrounding Michigan state policy issues. It is run out of the Department of Political Science at Michigan State University, with participation by students from the College of Social Science, the College of Communication, and James Madison College. 

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