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Bill Would Allow Smoking At More Outdoor Seating Areas

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LANSING (AP) – Legislation introduced last month would roll back a provision of Michigan’s smoking ban to allow smokers to light up at outdoor seating for bars and restaurants.

The bill’s chief sponsor is state Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, who told the Detroit Free Press that some bar and restaurant owners see the ban “as blatant over-regulation and usurping the rights of business owners to make their own rules on their own property.”

Under the proposal introduced in mid-November, restaurants would be able to choose whether to allow smoking in outdoor areas. McMillin said he’s a nonsmoker, but that he opposes the ban on smoking at restaurants because he thinks it infringes on civil liberties.

Smoking has been banned in Michigan restaurants and bars since 2010.

Carrie O’Neill, owner of Rock on Third in downtown Royal Oak, is a former smoker who originally opposed the ban on restaurant smoking but now favors it. She said she doesn’t want smoking anywhere on her premises, including two patio areas.

“I’m really over the days of the dirty ashtray. Even though this would be outside, still, for the nonsmoker, they’d be smelling it,” said O’Neill, who is president of the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. “Of course, I’m sure a lot of people would disagree.”

In August, the state clarified the no-smoking rule at bars and restaurants with outdoor seating, saying owners can allow smoking on patios and decks if food and drinks aren’t being served. The state had said there had been some confusion about the issue.

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[House Bill 5159]

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