MI Smoking Ban One Year Later: Any Improvements?

DETROIT (WWJ) – Sunday marks the one year anniversary for the smoking ban in Michigan. So has the ban hurt business for restaurants and bars?

WWJ’s Chrystal Knight reports a new study by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) reveals that restaurant and bar employees have decreased levels of secondhand smoke exposure in their system.

Judy Stewart, with the American Cancer Society, said improving worker health is what Michigan’s Smoke Free Air Law was all about.

“In the areas that we’ve looked at so far, are showing great improvement in the air quality and that’s exactly why we passed this law, to improve worker health,” Stewart said.

But has the ban improved business for these restaurants? Andy Deloney of the Michigan Restaurant Association is not so sure.

“For all the proponents of the smoking ban who had promised that the restaurant economy would be better, because all sorts of people would come out of the woodwork and would start going to restaurants again, we’re still waiting,” Deloney said.

The MDCH study was conducted among forty bar employees in the following counties: Benzie, Berrien, Genesee, Ingham, Leelanau, Marquette, Menominee, Muskegon, Emmet, Ottawa, St. Clair and Wayne.

The study, conducted four to six weeks before and six to ten weeks after the smoke-free law, shows how the level of secondhand smoke exposure decreased significantly among bar employees after the law went into effect.

Researchers measured the participants’ levels of cotinine and NNAL – chemicals found in urine that serve as biomarkers for measuring exposure to secondhand smoke levels. Each participant also completed a respiratory and general health questionnaire.
The results demonstrate a significant decrease in cotinine levels among employees working in the same bars from an average of 35.92 nanograms per milliliters before the law to zero nanograms per milliliters after the smoke-free law went into effect.

There also was a significant decrease in NNAL levels among participants working in the same bar from an average of .086 picomoles per milliliter before the law to .034 picomoles per milliliter after the smoke-free law was implemented. 

Furthermore, participants reported significant decreases in allergic symptoms, wheezing, shortness of breath, phlegm production, day time cough and morning cough.

Additionally, prior to passage of the law, air quality was tested in a sample of restaurants throughout Michigan where smoking was allowed.

After the law passed, the air quality was re- checked in those same establishments to determine if levels of matter found in secondhand smoke had decreased.

Preliminary results of the air monitoring studies demonstrate a significant decrease in exposure to secondhand smoke in restaurants of all participating areas to date. 

The MDCH study was released days after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s MMWR, “State Smoke-Free Laws for Worksites, Restaurants, and Bars,” which predicts that all 50 states will be covered by smoke free air laws by the year 2020.

To view the nicotine level and air monitoring studies, click here.


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