No one can deny that smoking and secondhand smoke are unhealthy — there’s a warning from the Surgeon General’s office on the pack that confirms it. To combat this health risk, more than half of the states in the U.S. have enacted some sort of indoor smoking ban. But here in Michigan, the state legislature has stalled on passing several incarnations of a similar bill, disagreeing about what exceptions should be made. This lack of progress comes at the expense of public health. To balance public health and economic stability, it’s imperative that the state House and Senate agree on a version of the bill that makes sensible exceptions.

On Tuesday, the House voted 73-31 on a bill that would ban smoking in most indoor public places, including bars and restaurants. The bill exempts smoke shops, cigar bars and the gaming floors of Detroit’s casinos from complying with the ban. The bill now moves to the Senate, where it will probably face opposition.

This isn’t the first time the legislature has considered a smoking ban. Last year, a similar smoking ban failed because the House and the Senate couldn’t agree on which exceptions should be included in the final version.

The biggest prompt for a smoking ban is, of course, the negative heath affects of secondhand smoke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 1,300 people die from smoking-induced causes each day. Of these people, 11 percent were victims of secondhand smoke. With numbers as extreme as these, it’s time for the government to realize its responsibility to protect public health. An indoor smoking ban would protect employees from dangerous secondhand smoke. If a ban like the one the House passed were enacted, these employees would finally be able to breathe clearly at their workplace.

Despite arguments to the contrary, the smoking ban would also help businesses. Non-smoking environments are more welcoming to those who don’t smoke — a much larger percentage of the population than smokers. And, with a large fraction of states having already enacted similar bans, the evidence is fairly strong that a ban wouldn’t drive businesses under. In New York, demand for liquor licenses and tax revenue improved after implementing a similar ban.

But banning smoking in all establishments would be bad for some. That’s why the exceptions to the bill are necessary. Cigar shops and smoke bars exist purely for the purpose of smoking. The risk of secondhand smoke is minimized because these establishments aren’t frequented by nonsmokers and are staffed by people who recognize the consequences of working in a smoke-filled environment. Banning smoking in these establishments would only drive them out of business. This bill exists to protect public health, not negatively affect businesses.

The House’s effort to ban almost all indoor smoking is critical to ensure that the health of Michigan workers is protected. And the legislature’s inability to come to a compromise and take action isn’t solving the problem. The Senate should recognize the benefits of this bill and finally pass it.

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