Michigan Proposes Changes To The Smoking Ban

LANSING, Mich., Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers proposes rolling back the state's anti-smoking law to allow lighting up on restaurant and bar patios.

The measure's chief sponsor, state Rep. Tom McMillin, a Republican, said the state's bar and restaurant smoking ban, passed in 2009, violates civil liberties and that owners -- not state lawmakers -- should be the ones making rules at their businesses.

McMillin said 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."

The bill is co-sponsored by 10 Republicans and two Democrats, the Detroit Free Press reported Monday. The bill would permit smoking -- pending the owner's consent -- on patios that are "less than 50 percent enclosed." Some restaurant owners, though, said they prefer to keep the smoking ban in place for all parts of their restaurants.

"I'm really over the days of the dirty ashtray. Even though this would be outside, still, for the non-smoker, they'd be smelling it," said Carrie O'Neill, president of the Royal Oak Restaurant Association. "Of course, I'm sure a lot of people would disagree." No plan was reported for when or how the measure might be brought to a vote.