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Smoking Ban Passed

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Ban on smoking at work is passed

Wayne County rule awaits Ficano's OK

March 19, 2004

BY BEN SCHMITT

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Wayne County commissioners passed a smoking ban Thursday designed to do away with cloudy smoking rooms.

The ordinance, which passed 11-1, prohibits smoking in any private workplace in the county. Bars, restaurants, casinos and bingo halls are not covered by the measure, and the county's 43 communities can opt out if their local governing bodies decide against it.

The ordinance still needs approval from Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano.

Commissioners passed two amendments from an earlier proposal. A private company can maintain a smoking area if it has its own heating and ventilation system. The commission also voted to do away with jail time for three-time violators.

Antismoking groups praised the commission, calling the vote a major victory for the health of Wayne County residents.

"The commission stepped up," said Allen Martin, spokesman for the Detroit Wayne County Connection, an umbrella group of antismoking organizations. "We did something that affects our next generation."

The measure also has the blessing of Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

In a Nov. 19 letter to Wayne County Commission Chairwoman Jewel Ware, Kilpatrick wrote: "It is imperative that we protect the health and economic well-being of county residents and its employees."

But Richard Blouse, Detroit Regional Chamber president and chief executive officer, called the ordinance "another indication of over-regulation in Wayne County."

Michigan already has similar smoke-free laws in Ingham, Washtenaw and Genesee counties.

Detractors said they are concerned that enforcement would be costly and impossible. Commissioner Robert Blackwell cast the sole vote against the ordinance. Commissioners Edward Boike Jr. and Lyn Bankes abstained.

Commissioner Philip Cavanagh said employees will enforce the measure themselves.

"I don't envision a minipolice force needed to enforce this," he said.

Contact BEN SCHMITT at 313-223-4296 or [email protected]

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