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Wayne County chief rejects anti-smoking ordinance

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Wayne County chief rejects anti-smoking ordinance

Monday, March 29, 2004

BY BEN SCHMITT

FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER

Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano today vetoed the anti-smoking-in-the-workplace ordinance passed by the county commission a few weeks ago, calling upon state legislators to address the issue.

In a statement, released at 1:30 p.m., Ficano said: ``This ordinance reflects a very important public policy objective in that it attempts to protect the health of Wayne County visitors and residents against the hazardous effects of secondhand tobacco smoke.''

He continued, ``In order to effectively accomplish our collective public health objectives, the residents of Wayne County would be better served by sending a strong message to Lansing that it is now time to strengthen the Michigan Clean Indoor Air Act.''

On March 18, commissioners voted 11-1 to pass the ordinance that would ban smoking in any private workplace in the county. Bars, restaurants, casinos and bingo halls were to be exempt.

Ficano said he had legal concerns after discussing the matter with his corporation

counsel. He said he was concerned how the county would enforce the ordinance.

Commissioner Robert Blackwell said it would take 10 votes to override Ficano's veto. Blackwell opposes cast the only dissenting vote.

``I think it's really not an important issue for us to be involved in,'' Blackwell said.

Commissioner Ilona Varga voted for the ordinance, but said she wonders if it is enforceable.

``I will not vote to override the veto,'' she said. ``We need to make sure it's enforceable.''

Allen Martin, spokesman for the Detroit Wayne County Connection, an umbrella group of anti-smoking organizations, said he was disappointed.

``I think it's a shame that we have a county executive who doesn't care about the health of the citizens of Wayne County,'' Martin said.

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

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