While the majority of workplaces and public spaces around the country are smoke-free, some holdout markets still exist. One is Michigan, where a ban on smoking in the workplace passed the House and is now in the state Senate. The topic is a hot debate in the state’s hospitality industry, with the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association (MLBA) strongly opposing the ban, citing its potential disastrous effect on bars and restaurants throughout the state.
Not all operators foresee doom if the ban is approved, however. Daniel Haberman, co-owner of the bosco restaurant in Ferndale, Mich., and his partner and brother Jeremy, who also owns The Magic Bag, a live music venue in Ferndale, are voluntarily going smoke-free in both locations as of July 4.
Jeremy Haberman says claims that smoking bans will destroy bars and restaurants operating in the state are unfounded, pointing to the fact that countless operations have adapted and thrived in states and foreign countries that have enacted smoking bans. He also sites the reactions of performers and guests coming to his venue from other states who express amazement that smoking is allowed. “We find all national touring acts are shocked that Michigan still allows indoor smoking. They say that no venues, other than a couple in the rural South, still allow smoking.”
As for Daniel Haberman, he is an outspoken supporter of the smoking ban. “My staff has had it with smoky clothing, itchy eyes, sore throats and that pesky increased risk of cancer,” he says. “We opened the bosco to send a message to our region that we can do better. We’ve seen countless bars try to copy our every action. … Maybe we’ll see this move copied, too. We aren’t afraid to make a statement if it means making Michigan stronger and our employees healthier.”
For its part, the 2,500-member MLBA opposes the ban and is lobbying against it. The organization’s web site includes links for concerned operators to communicate with state representatives, as well as a document listing bars and restaurants around the country that have experienced loss of business or have closed as a result of smoking bans.