“We already knew this law was unpopular,” says group spokesperson Sheri Woody, who owns the City Lounge in Romulus. “Now our poll shows the public wants it changed.”
“We feel our poll represents an accurate cross-section,” says Woody. “It was made available to everyone, multiple votes were filtered out, and ultimately nearly 40,000 people were given the chance to participate.” Ban the Ban Michigan has over 5,000 members across the state and advocates for a “common-sense compromise” on the issue.
According to Woody, Michigan’s ban is one of the strictest in existence. It currently prohibits smoking in nearly every restaurant, bar and veteran’s hall in the state and even includes outdoor patios where food and drinks are served. Leading up to the ban’s enactment in 2010, some supporters claimed the law was necessary to protect workers from secondhand smoke.
“Most Michigan residents are smart enough to be skeptical of those claims,” Woody says. “They may have swayed public opinion back then, but anyone can learn how exaggerated the claims were in a few minutes at banthebanmichigan.com/shs.html. People feel they’ve been lied to.”
The public’s frustration also stems from the ban’s devastating impact on small business, according to Woody. “Hundreds have gone out of business, thousands of jobs have been lost, and it’s heartbreaking,” she says. “In a lot of cases we’re talking about small mom-and-pop places passed down through generations.”
Mike Berry, owner of the 360 Lounge and Grille in Dearborn, recently had his food service revoked because his business is also a hookah lounge. “Everybody was happy the way it was before,” says Berry. “Customers and employees all enjoyed the place. No one was forced to be here who didn’t want to be. We’ll very likely be out of business soon because of the smoking ban.” A list of additional businesses affected is available at www.banthebanmichigan.com/was.html
Ban the Ban Michigan has crafted an amendment to the ban which would exempt outdoor patios and indoor areas designated age 21 and up. The group’s proposed amendment can be viewed at www.banthebanmichigan.com/about.html
“Our poll reflects that people, whether they smoke or not, support choice,” says Woody. “Most agree owners should be free to choose whether to allow smoking on outdoor patios and 21-and-up indoor areas.” She urges Michigan residents who want the law changed to find Ban the Ban Michigan on Facebook.
“Let owners decide and customers will also have a choice: they can vote with their feet,” Woody says. “Lawmakers need to take notice that people are hurting, people are upset, and practically everyone agrees it’s time for a compromise here.”