On May 1st, the Dr. Ron Davis Smoke Free Air Law came into effect. It is a law that was established to protect Michigan’s residents and visitors from secondhand smoke in all restaurants, bars and businesses which include hotels and motels. Two weeks into the implementation of the law and people have mixed reactions about it.
“It hasn’t made much of a difference to me,” John Martin, an English literature major at Eastern said. “I don’t mind having to come out for a smoke in general, since the places I visit often already had the no smoking policy in place. It’s definitely inconvenient to have the law apply to bars though, since many people enjoy a smoke with their drink. It’s a hassle to have to go out for a smoke.”
Many businesses and restaurants already had a no smoking policy while others maintained separate sections for non-smokers and smokers.
“People would walk in and ask if we were a smoke-free place and when we said we weren’t they’d walk out saying that they’ll come back when we are smoke free,” Ben Groves, a manager at Tower Inn said. “Even though we did have separate seating for smokers and non-smokers, it didn’t matter.”
Rebeca Garibaldi, a resident of Ypsilanti is thrilled with the implementation of the law.
“Every time I went out to a bar I’d come home with my hair and clothes smelling of smoke,” she said. “It’s nice to come back home without the stink of cigarette smoke engulfing me. What makes me even more happy, is the fact that my friend has reduced the number of cigarettes she smokes cause she thinks it’s too much trouble to step out every time she wants to smoke.”
Secondhand smoke is classified as a “known human carcinogen” (cancer causing agent) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. National Toxicology Program, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a branch of the World Health Organization. The logistics of the effects of secondhand smoking are staggering.
“I don’t really know how much of a difference it’s going to make to the health of secondhand smokers which is the primary goal of the law, “ Michael Bean, an EMU student said. “I’m a non-smoker but my friends smoke. When we go to a bar or restaurant and my friends step out for a smoke, I go with them since I don’t want to hang back and miss out on the conversation. Secondhand smokers have a choice to not be secondhand smokers. They could just stay away from people when they’re smoking.”
On the other hand, not many people are aware of the details of the law. For one, the law is being enforced by the local health departments and completely complaint driven. If someone is seen breaking the law, it can be reported to the establishment and if they don’t take action it needs to be reported to the local health department.
“If I saw someone breaking the law, I would report it. A law is a law.” said, Jeff Gurtizen, a visitor from Ohio.
Even indoor common areas of apartments and condominiums come under the law, though living units of the same do not. However, owners of the buildings can chose to implement smoke free policies in the living units.
“I may not smoke, but I think if apartment owners started banning smoking in homes it would be unfair to smokers,” Sanjana Guna Prakash said.
“I’m glad the law has been implemented,” Groves said with a grin. “I like smoking outside and getting some fresh air while I do so.”