The Michigan Legislature has passed a bill which bans smoking in almost all indoor public venues. This ban has been in the works for a long time; many other States have already enacted similar laws. Governor Granholm is expected to sign the bill into law, and it will go into effect on May 1, 2010.
“Smoking” is defined as “the burning of a lighted cigar, cigarette, piper or any matter or substance that contains a tobacco product.” There is a ban on smoking in “public places.” A “public place” includes areas owned and operated by the government; areas not owned or operated by the government, but used by the general public for certain specified purposes; and (unless otherwise exempt) a place of employment. The third one covers almost all of the businesses in the State. A “place of employment” is an enclosed indoor area that contains a work area for one or more people.
Business owners are expected to take steps to reasonably prevent customers, employees, or other people from smoking on their premises. Business owners are expected to do ALL of the following:
- Clearly and conspicuously post no smoking signs (or the international no smoking symbol) at the entryway and in all buildings where smoking is prohibited.
- Remove all ashtrays or other smoking paraphernalia from any place smoking is prohibited under the Act.
- Inform individuals smoking in violation of the Act that they are in violation of state law and are subject to penalties.
- Refuse to serve an individual smoking in violation of the Act.
- Ask an individual smoking in violation of the Act to refrain from smoking, and ask them to leave if they refuse to stop.
If owners do all of the preceding things, they have an affirmative defense against any prosecution against them for a violation of the Act. This means that the business owner can be exempt from penalties under the Act, but only if all of the preceding conditions are met.
The Act includes a few exceptions. Casinos in existence before the Act can allow smoking in gaming areas only. Casinos built later cannot allow smoking. (The term casino in the bill does not include a casino operated under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. Thus, the smoking ban does not apply to these casinos.) An existing separate specialty tobacco shop may allow smoking. Cigar bars may also allow smoking (but only the smoking of cigars, not other tobacco products). The ban also does not apply to motor vehicles.
Overall, business owners should be proactive in preventing smoking in their place of business by following the five requirements described above.
Download a copy of the Bill in PDF format by clicking here.
This article was written by Mark S. Demorest, Managing Member of Demorest Law Firm.