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Health officials in Saginaw and Bay counties say change to Michigan's smoking-ban law raises questions

Publication Date: 2013-08-19
  • Author:Heather Jordan

Smoking is no longer banned entirely from Michigan restaurants and bars, according to a new interpretation of the law. But public health officials in Saginaw and Bay counties say they have questions following the change.

When the smoke-free law went into effect in May of 2010, it prohibited smoking at all restaurants, bars and businesses including hotels and motels. The smoking ban excludes the gaming areas of Detroit’s three casinos and tribal casinos.

"The way that the law read before was that you couldn’t smoke on the premises. Period,” said Joel Strasz, Bay County Health Department health director.

Now, under a new interpretation of Michigan's smoke-free law, owners of restaurants and bars can allow smoking on outdoor patios and rooftops, as long as food and drink are not being served or prepared there at the time.

Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development Director Jamie Clover Adams on Monday, Aug. 19, announced the change. The MDA has jurisdiction over the law because it oversees health department food inspections.

The law previously read that smoking was not allowed in any place where patrons were intended to receive food or beverages, Clover Adams said. 

“My clarification just says ... if there's food (or beverage) being prepared, served or provided — no smoking,” she said of outdoor patios and rooftops.

But a restaurant owner could stop food and beverage service on an outdoor patio at 8 p.m. and allow smoking on the patio after that. The change is effective immediately...