The mother and son from Ferndale want smoking to be banned in Michigan restaurants, bars and workplaces. And on Tuesday, they will get their chance to speak directly with state lawmakers, who have scheduled a rare hearing on legislation before the House Commerce Committee that would do just that.
Similar bills proposed in the last seven years got just one hearing — in 2004 — and never received a vote when the Legislature was controlled by Republicans. But now Democrats lead the House, bringing hope to health groups and other supporters of a statewide smoking ban.
The Democratic-sponsored legislation is opposed by the Michigan Restaurant Association and Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, which say eateries and bars should be free to decide whether to allow smoking based on free-market competition without intrusion from the government.
The restaurant group's spokesman, Andy Deloney, says the number of smokefree restaurants and taverns has nearly doubled since 1998 — evidence that eateries already are responding to customers who prefer smokefree atmospheres.
"All we're saying is why have the state step in when people are very able to make decisions for themselves," Deloney says. "We're talking about privately owned establishments. They don't take very kindly to someone saying, 'You know what? I don't like the way you're running your business.'"
I don't smoke ciggarettes, and I am asthmatic. I want to get that across before anything else here. This is not an issue of whether I am pro or anti smoking. I'm neutral there. This is about property rights and the rights of owners to decide what they can allow in their PRIVATE estabishments.
There are places here in Livingston County which do not allow smoking. The Copper Pickle banned it completely. That is their choice, and they should be entitled to make their choice. Other places rely on smokers for their business. That should be their choice at the same time. In fact this ban hurts existing smoke free places, as that is a niche they can use in their marketing.
Lastly, the big government statists here aren't pushing to ban smoking in public buildings. That's already the case for the most part. Public buildings are government buildings. The statists are pushing to tell what private business are allowed to do on their own property. That's not right, and I oppose these bills for that reason.