News Release

Health Department of Northwest Michigan
serving Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego Counties
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Survey shows strong local support for new smoke-free air law
90% say they'll go to smoke-free restaurants and bars more or about the same

(June 25, 2010) Researchers with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) Tobacco Section have released results from a public opinion survey related to Michigan's statewide smoke-free air law. The survey was conducted prior to the May 1, 2010 implementation date of the law, which requires Michigan workplaces to be smoke-free.

Statewide, just over 75% of all survey participants were in favor of the law and 88% thought secondhand smoke was a serious health threat to others. Nonsmokers were significantly more supportive of the law than smokers. 87% of participants were aware all bars and restaurants would be smoke-free starting May 1, 2010. Overall, 90% of those surveyed reported they would go out to eat more often or about the same if smoking were prohibited in restaurants and bars.

According to Teri Wilson from MDCH Tobacco Control Section, "Regardless of smoking status, the majority of participants reported no change in going out to eat if smoking was prohibited in bars and restaurants; however, nonsmokers were more likely to report they would go out to eat more often than current and former smokers. Over 900 (9%) of current and former smokers reported that they would go out to eat more often."

Erika Van Dam, Family & Community Health Supervisor, noted that the results from the Health Department of Northwest Michigan residents indicate even greater support than statewide findings. "81% of participants were in favor of the law and 92% thought secondhand smoke was a serious threat to nonsmokers," she said. "The results of the survey confirm strong support for the smoke-free law prior to implementation, and 95% of participants indicated they would go out to eat more often or just as often as they did prior to Michigan being smoke-free."

Another indication of support for the law, Van Dam says, is the large number of Health Department residents who took the time to complete the survey. Of the 10,300 people who were surveyed statewide, 391 were residents from the local four-county Health District.

The implementation of the state smoke-free air law has been extremely smooth, she said. "It’s been nearly two months since the law went into effect, and we’ve received just three complaints--all resolved--from over 600 restaurants and bars. Businesses are complying with the requirements of the law, patrons are happy, and employees appreciate working in a healthy environment."

MDCH's nine-question survey assessed knowledge about secondhand smoke, knowledge of the law, support for the law, and behavior change related to the law, specifically whether participants would eat out more often if smoking was prohibited in bars and restaurants. Demographic information was also collected.

The survey, which was distributed to clients receiving services at local health departments in 80 of Michigan's 83 counties, and through 8 agencies serving populations disparately affected by tobacco use, was conducted between March 1 and April 23, 2010. MDCH will repeat the survey in August of 2010 to compare results. The survey utilizes convenience sample methodology, so the August survey will be distributed within the same venues, but not necessarily completed by the same participants.

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 a copy of the survey results or for more information about Michigan’s smoke-free law, visit

Download Survey Results Summary