April 01, 2009 When I go to a restaur-ant, I like my lungs like I like my steak—pink on the inside. Unfortunately, efforts to ban smoking in restaurants and other public indoor places fell six votes short in the House last year.
The dangers of smok- ing are well known. According to the surgeon general, nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke have a 20-to-30-percent increased risk of dev-eloping lung cancer and a 30-percent increased chance of developing heart disease. An estimated 300,000 children under the age of 18 months get pneumonia or bronchitis every year from breathing secondhand smoke.
Michigan is behind the curve when it comes to protecting residents from this public health hazard, even though nearly eight out of every 10 residents are nonsmokers. However, the odds of Michigan soon joining the growing list of smoke-free states are better than ever since many of the newly elected state representatives, myself included, support a smoking ban.
While a lot of the details still have to be worked out, such as whether a ban would be total or if it would include exemptions for bars and casinos, it seems clear momentum is heading this way. Last year the Senate voted for a complete ban on smoking.
An often overlooked point in this debate is that banning smoking in restaurants will also create jobs— other states that have implemented similar legislation have actually seen restaurant revenues go up. The state will also save millions on health care costs.
I am hopeful Republicans and Democrats will be able to work together to get this done.
I look forward to hearing your comments on these important issues. Please feel free to contact me by calling 517-373-1800 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.