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News Summary

Michigan smoking ban goes too far, lawmaker says

Publication Date: 2013-04-15
  • Author:Melissa Anders

Rep. Doug Geiss isn't giving up on his fight to carve out some exemptions to Michigan's smoking ban.

"We treat dogs better than we treat smokers in this state," he said.

Smokers, he said, at least deserve a "dog house" or some type of accommodation so they don't have to take a smoke in the cold and rain.

The Democrat from Taylor recently reintroduced a bill that would allow smoking in certain rooms or areas of bars, restaurants and other establishments. Previous efforts haven't gained support in the legislature and are opposed by groups like the American Cancer Society.

Geiss is not a regular smoker, but occasionally enjoys a clove cigar. He voted for the smoke-free law that went into effect almost three years ago, believing the legislature would revisit some the issues he raised.

He wants to allow smoking at private clubs like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars if members support the move and certain conditions are met.

"I feel kind of strongly about the fact that our returning veterans as well as those who have served in decades past be able to determine for themselves if they want their own clubs to allow smoking," he said.

Suzanne Combs agrees. She manages the bar at VFW Local 6132 in Lansing.

"All these guys fought for us, and then to tell them they can't smoke in their own club? It's supposed to be private organization," she said. "There are a lot of people that are members in here that aren't happy about that."

Some opponents worry bars and restaurants would file for the exemption as a private club to allow smoking.

The legislation also would allow smoking rooms in otherwise non-smoking establishments (including bars, restaurants and airports) as long as they are separate from the public space and designed so smoke can't escape the room. The room would have to close an hour before normal business hours to allow time to vent out before any employees would have to go in for cleaning or maintenance....