The Health Department of Northwest Michigan commends the Michigan legislature for passing a bill banning secondhand smoke in public places, including restaurants and bars. The bill passed both the state House and Senate with exemptions for Detroit casinos. Governor Jennifer M. Granholm is expected to sign the bill, which will take effect in May.
"The Legislature chose to protect Michigan's citizens from second hand smoke, which leads to major chronic illnesses such as lung cancer and heart attacks," said Gerald Chase, Health Officer. "The Legislature passed a strong bill that outright bans smoking in public places. That decision shows that the health of Michigan citizens is a top priority."
Second hand smoke is the third leading cause of preventable death in Michigan. About 24 non-smokers die each year in the local Health District as a result of secondhand smoke, Chase said. When smoking occurs in the workplace, employees find they are exposed to cancer causing substances all day long. Smoking-related illnesses in adults include heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic lower respiratory illnesses, and diabetes. Children and adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke can develop asthma, ear infections, colds and pneumonia.
"We are elated with this legislation," Chase said. "We've been working toward this day for over 10 years. We were able to pass a local regulation banning tobacco use in most work places but legally it could not include restaurants and bars. A statewide law protects all employees, including those in the hospitality industry."
"We're grateful for the contributions of our Tobacco Reduction Coalition and others who called their legislators to support passage of the bill."
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. For additional information, visit www.nwhealth.org or call Erika VanDam, Family & Community Health Supervisor at 347-6014.