News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
Visit us at

Health Department Kicks off public education campaign
Michigan going smoke free on May 1, 2010

(April 29, 2010) The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has kicked off a public education campaign to raise awareness about the statewide smoke-free air law, which takes effect May 1, 2010. As part of the campaign, a large number of local community tobacco coalitions and health agencies, including the Health Department of Northwest Michigan's Tobacco Reduction Coalition, will be providing presentations to community groups and businesses about the specifics of the law.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has developed a website,, that communicates the details of the law, provides information for businesses on how to comply with the law, and contains affidavits for businesses wishing to apply for the cigar bar and tobacco specialty shop exemptions. The website also includes a Frequently Asked Questions document that answers the most commonly asked questions regarding the law. In addition, a new television public service announcement (PSA), titled "Smoked Lasagna" will run in partnership with the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, and the PSA can be found on the website.

"It's exciting to begin this new era in Michigan where going out to dinner won't mean being exposed to secondhand smoke for patrons or for employees," said Janet Olszewski, MDCH Director. "This is good news for all Michigan citizens."

"The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is available to answer questions related to the new law, and we are out in the community presenting to residents and businesses regarding the specifics of the law," said Gerald Chase, Health Officer. "We're looking forward to May 1st and expect that compliance among business owners in our community will be quite high."

Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm signed legislation that prohibits smoking in public places such as restaurants, bars, hotels, or any place that serves food or beverages. The Ron M. Davis Law, named after the late chief medical officer of the Department of Public Health, takes effect May 1, 2010, and will make Michigan the 38th state to ban smoking in public places.

Most businesses in Antrim, Emmet, and Otsego are already required to be smoke free under a local public health regulation, with the exception of restaurants and bars. Although the local and state regulations are very similar, the local regulation supersedes on two points for the workplaces it covers:

"Both the state and local regulations were written to protect workers from the effects of secondhand smoke, a known cancer-causing substance," said Erika Van Dam, Supervisor for Family & Community Health for the local health department. MDCH estimates 24 non-smokers die each year from the effects of secondhand smoke. "Smoking bans save lives and improve the health, comfort and environment for residents and visitors of Michigan," Van Dam said.

The new law allows exemptions for the gaming floors at the three Detroit casinos, but the other casino bars and eateries must be smoke-free, including the casinos' restaurants and hotels. Michigan's 20 American-Indian casinos are not covered by state law. Cigar bars, tobacco specialty shops, home offices, commercial trucks and motor vehicles are also exempt. Individuals and business owners who violate the law will be subject to penalties of $100 for the first offense and $500 for subsequent offenses.

Businesses that are planning to file for the tobacco specialty shop and cigar bar exemptions are encouraged to go to the website to obtain the proper forms for filing. Due to provisions outlined in the law, affidavits and applications for the exemption will not be accepted prior to May 1, 2010.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. To request a presentation for your group or business, call the Tobacco Reduction Coalition Coordinator at 231-347-6014.