cgr pix-dont_tread_on_me 150x250Los Angeles, December 28, 2010 – Hit hard by the state's indoor smoking ban imposed on May 1, Michigan bar owners will protest the ban on New Year's Eve by allowing smoking in their establishments in defiance of the law.

"Why are we taking the decision-making away from adults?" asked Stephen Mace, spokesman for Protect Private Property Rights in Michigan, a group of several hundred bar owners who want the law relaxed for smaller bars whose business has been hit by the ban, in an interview with the Detroit News. "I don't understand it. The bar owners are losing money. Enough is enough."

Mace said that the member bars plan to allow smoking on Friday evening after 9 p.m. or as soon as all minors had left.

With the ban coming into effect on May 1, the exact impact isn't yet clear, but that didn't stop the state of Michigan from releasing a study that claimed the ban has had no negative impact on business. But Ed Parsekian of the Muskegon County Health Department told the Lansing State Journal that "It’s definitely a rough time for some places, I'm not going to mince words."

The story noted that "Public Health-Muskegon County in October surveyed 16 Muskegon County bars and restaurants as part of a statewide survey. All but three of the establishments allowed smoking until the ban. Officials say it wasn't a 'scientific' sample but does show some broad trends.

"Of the 16 businesses surveyed, none reported a positive financial change in the May-September period. Nine reported a negative change, while seven said they’d seen no change."

Statewide, the story was the same or worse: "According to the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, overall sales from the members who responded were down more than 20 percent. For small businesses - those with annual sales less than $250,000 - the reported decline was 27.5 percent."

Any amendment to the smoking ban law would have to be enacted in the new legislative session beginning in January. Republicans took control of the Michigan House of Representatives in the November elections and already controlled the Senate, and the new Governor, Rick Snyder, is also a Republican, so a compromise might be possible.
~ Rich Perelman

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