Michigan Passes Logical Smoking Ban

December 10, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Michigan is about to become the 38th state to ban smoking at restaurants. The Michigan law draws a zen-like balance that protects everyone’s rights.  Under the new legislation smoking is banned at all bars and restaurants but does allow smoking at casinos and cigar bars.  Perfection.

Proponents for banning public smoking point out that the number of people who smoke continues to fall each year.  Roughly 20% of Americans are now regular smokers.  Translation: every time a person lights up they are offending four other people.  Not just offending, endangering as the hazards of secondhand smoke are undeniable.  And since there is no such thing as a non-smoking section in a restaurant that allows smoking it stands to reason four out of five people in a restaurant are having their rights violated.

Opponents for banning smoking argue that smokers should have the right to smoke after dinner and they should not have to leave the premises to do it.  They are right but keep in mind that a person’s rights end where they infringe on the rights of others.  Smokers have a right to smoke.  Non-smokers have a right to not breath the smoke of others.  So where’s the compromise?

That is where the cigar bar exemption comes in.  The cigar bar designation tells everyone that smoking goes on there.  If you do not want to endure tobacco smoke do not go to a cigar bar.  Cigar bars give smokers a place to get their grub on without being ostracized for their addiction.  Everyone wins.

Many restaurant and bar owners have been resistant to going smoke-free because they fear it will mean a decrease in business but the opposite has proven true.  Parents that had been avoiding smoked-filled dining rooms to protect their children from the ravages of secondhand smoke have rediscovered old haunts.

Unfortunately, I live in a state, Alabama, where nearly 50% of the population still smokes.  As a result, efforts to enact fair public smoking laws have been thwarted by closed-minded thinking.  Other states just flat out deny smokers the right to go out to dinner and have a good smoke.  That isn’t right either.  So kudos, Michigan, you got it exactly right.

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Stuart Reb Donald

Stuart is a celebrity chef and award winning food writer. Donald performs live cooking demonstrations and penned the cookbook Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor."

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