News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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One Year Later: Michigan's Smoke Free Law Helps Reduce Exposure to Secondhand Smoke

(June 1, 2011) New data available from two studies conducted by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) indicate that the state smoke-free air law, now in place for over one year, is working as intended.

"The U.S. Surgeon General found that there is no safe level of secondhand smoke exposure, even brief exposure can have negative health consequences. There are results now available from two separate studies that clearly demonstrate the reduction in secondhand smoke in Michigan bars and restaurants,"said Joshua Meyerson, MD, Medical Director for the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. "Employees and the public are now protected from the health harms of secondhand smoke exposure in workplaces, which is exactly why the law was enacted."

A Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) bar employees study, conducted four to six weeks before and six to ten weeks after the smoke-free law was implemented, shows how the level of secondhand smoke exposure decreased significantly among bar employees after the law went into effect. Forty bar employees from 13 counties throughout the state participated in the study, including four from the local Health District. Researchers measured the participants' levels of cotinine and NNAL--chemicals found in urine that indicates a person's level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Each participant also completed a respiratory and general health questionnaire.

The results demonstrate a significant decrease in cotinine levels among employees working in the same bars from an average of 35.92 nanograms per milliliter before the law, to zero nanograms per milliliter after the smoke-free law went into effect. There also was a significant decrease in NNAL levels among participants working in the same bar from an average of .086 picomoles per milliliter before the law, to .034 picomoles per milliliter after the smoke-free law was implemented. Bar employees also reported improvement in reported general health status and respiratory health, including wheezing, allergy symptoms, and coughing, after the law took effect.

Air monitoring studies were also conducted before and after the smoke-free law in the state's six major regions including the Southeast, West, Upper Peninsula, Northern Lower Peninsula, Thumb, and Central. Prior to passage of the law, air quality was tested in a sample of restaurants throughout Michigan where smoking was allowed. After the law passed, the air quality was re-checked in those same establishments to determine if levels of matter found in secondhand smoke had decreased. Preliminary results of the air monitoring studies demonstrate a significant decrease in exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants of all participating areas to date.

According to Lynne DeMoor, who coordinates the Tobacco Reduction Coalition of Northwest Michigan, the law is working very well. "The law is protecting the health of employees and restaurant and bar patrons, and we're happy to say it's good for business as well. Restaurant managers tell us business is just as good--or better--than before the law and customers really appreciate the clean and healthy environment," she said.

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 view the cotinine level and air monitoring studies, please log onto and scroll to Evaluation Study Results. For more information, please contact DeMoor at the Health Department at 231-347-4640.