Most Michigan residents will find their work places, restaurants and bars smoke-free beginning May 1 now that Gov. Jennifer Granholm has signed a smoking ban into law.
But the new law could still face a court challenge, with bars and restaurants affected by the ban arguing it's discriminatory to exempt three Detroit casinos.
The Democratic governor signed the measure Friday at Michigan Brewing Co., a downtown Lansing brew pub that already bans smoking. She said the pub's experience with going smoke-free shows that "you can make a go of it and be very successful, and be healthy as well."
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Dozens of smoking ban advocates crowded into the restaurant, erupting into loud cheers when Granholm announced after signing the bill, "It's done!"
"This is the greatest gift we could give the citizens of Michigan because it keeps on giving," said state Sen. Ron Jelinek, a Three Oaks Republican who helped craft the compromise that became law.
The ban applies to all bars, restaurants and work places, including private clubs and fraternal organizations.
The only exceptions are the Detroit casinos, cigar bars, tobacco specialty stores, home offices and motor vehicles. Although smoking will be allowed on casino gambling floors, it will be banned in the casinos' bars, restaurants and hotels.
Thousands of Michigan residents die each year from illnesses caused by secondhand smoke, Granholm said, adding that becoming the 38th state to limit smoking in public places makes a statement that Michigan cares about healthy lifestyles.
Anti-smoking advocates have worked for more than a decade to pass a smoking ban in Michigan. They were ecstatic Friday with the ban finally becoming law.
"Workers across the state are cheering as smoke-free air is finally a law in Michigan," Judy Stewart, Campaign for Smokefree Air campaign manager and government relations director at the American Cancer Society, said in a statement.
But Lance Binoniemi, executive director of the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, said the ban will cost the state thousands of jobs if it's allowed to stand.
"We have certainly had a lot of concerns, a lot of questions, a lot of uncertainty," he said. "In the next four to six weeks, we're going to take a real serious look at any legal action that we may have a leg to stand on."
One ban the association is focusing on affects St. Louis, Mo., and contains a similar exemption for casinos. Bar and restaurant owners there are challenging the ban in court, Binoniemi said.
The MLBA is still trying to figure out if the ban applies to patio seating and where patrons will be allowed to smoke if they can't smoke inside a bar or restaurant.
"I don't know that even the governor or the Legislature know all those answers either, at this point," Binoniemi said. "It's all new to everyone."
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