Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Michigan House moves to ban smoking in public places

As a smoker, I am absolutely fine with this. Anything that gets me one step closer to quitting is a good idea, and things like this help to do that.

Funny thing is, when it is not allowed, I don't think about doing it. (until about two hours pass and then my brain demands that I go do it, but I have no problem with stepping outside, away from everyone. Heck, sometimes it gives me a great excuse to get away when I find myself hopelessly bored with the conversation.)

One question though- who is going to pay all those taxes when everyone quits? Hmmm? Didn't think about that, did you? $733.9 million so far this year. That's not something to cough at. Ha ha.

Legislation to ban smoking in public places -- including restaurants, bars and Detroit casinos -- cleared a key House committee today and was sent to the full House.

It's the farthest a broad anti-smoking measure has made it in the Michigan Legislature, after a decade of efforts by proponents to pass such legislation. If the bill makes it all the way through the Legislature, and that's uncertain at this point, Michigan would join 32 other states that prohibit smoking in public buildings.

Unfortunately, I don't think this is going to make it through the full vote to get to the Governor's desk- find out why over the jump...

But Matt Groen, legislative affairs manager for the Michigan Restaurant Association, said he hopes the Republican-led Senate will quash the bill -- assuming it passes the House. He said 4,300 restaurants already bar smoking but owners should be free to choose.

"They made the investment . . . it's their right to determine how to run their restaurants," Groen said.

Ah, yes, the Senate. Once again they will be the place where "legislation goes to die".

Part of me agrees with the business owners, also. I would like to see a system where establishments could buy a license to allow it, something along the lines of liquor licenses today, but I'm sure they would complain about the cost of that, too.

It would still be allowed in cigar bars and tobacco shops.

And one big issue that won't/can't be addressed- tribal casinos.

The committee didn't resolve an issue raised by Rep. Bill Huizinga, R-Zeeland: the bill, by outlawing smoking in Detroit's casinos, will create a competitive advantage for tribal casinos. The state law wouldn't apply to tribes, which are considered sovereign nations, so they presumably would continue to permit smoking in their casinos.

Who knows, perhaps there will be enough gamblers that prefer to go to a non-smoking casino, but it's been my experience that drinking, gambling, smoking tends to go hand in hand for us addicts.

I've never been bitten by the gambling bug, and I'm now over 11 years sober. So, before anyone chastises me for still smoking- give me credit for dumping all my other vices, OK? OK. I'll get around to dumping this one too.

Just not today.