Though the University’s campus-wide smoking ban will not go into effect until July of next year, a new statewide ban on smoking has Ann Arbor restaurants and bars turning away patrons who choose to light up, sending them outside instead.
The Michigan smoke-free legislation, which went into effect on Saturday, forbids all cigarette and cigar use in workplaces, including bars, restaurants and offices. As a compromise between the interests of both smokers and nonsmokers, the mandate permits smoking directly outside of work establishments.
According to the new law, cigar and hookah bars will be able to remain open provided that they file an affidavit with the state of Michigan.
Following the lead of other states, Michigan is now the 38th state to implement legislation that bans smoking in public areas. California became the first state to pass a workplace smoking ban in 1998.
Jim Bergman, a member of the University’s Tobacco Research Network and director of the Smoke-Free Environments Law Project at the Center for Social Gerontology, said he believes that the initiative will reduce the exposure of restaurant and bar customers to secondhand smoke.
Bergman said the ban will also help smokers cut down on the frequency of their cigarette use by limiting the number of places available for them to smoke legally.
In anticipation of the heated debate between smokers and nonsmokers, the University has assembled a body of experts to discuss the smoking ban and its impact on local restaurants and bars.
Cliff Douglas, an adjunct lecturer in health management and policy at the University’s School of Public Health and a consultant on tobacco control policy to the U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health, said he is very optimistic about the economic benefits that the ban will bring to Ann Arbor restaurants.
Douglas, who is also the director of the University’s Tobacco Research Network, said restaurants in other states have reported that their business has remained steady and, in some cases, have even improved, since the enactment of their state’s smoking ban. The reported financial stability, he added, should be encouraging to business owners.
Prior to the statewide ban, certain restaurants and bars in Michigan already enforced a smoke-free policy — notably in cases where competitors did not the dispute the provisions of the ban.
“The response (to the smoking ban) has been very positive,” Douglas said. “Not everybody agrees, but the vast majority is very supportive.”