Wednesday, Sep 28, 2016
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Michigan smoking ban takes effect

“Smoke Free” signs sprouted up at restaurants and bars across Michigan Saturday morning as the state became the 26th in the United States to ban smoking in such places.

While Rebecca Head, the Monroe County health director, said she doesn't anticipate significant problems, the ban was greeted by mixed reactions locally.

At AJ's Doolittles sports grill in Bedford Township, customer Cathy Samberg was all for the new law.

“I love it. It's nice to come in and eat food, not cigarette smoke,” she said.

Jenni Baldwin, who tends bar there, said customers who have talked about the ban have been overwhelmingly supportive of it.

But Mark Madrid, seated at the bar at Rivalry's in Bedford Township, said the measure was overkill.

“I don't smoke, but smoking doesn't bother me. You can send a kid to fight at 18, but he can't come back here and smoke,” he said.

Perhaps one of the most evident changes because of the smoking ban came at Comerica Park in Detroit.

Tigers manager Jim Leyland, who has smoked cigarettes at the ballpark throughout his lengthy career, was not smoking when he met with reporters before the Tigers beat the Los Angeles Angels.

Leyland said the ban won't keep him from smoking away from the ballpark.

Michigan's county health departments are responsible for enforcing the new smoking law. First-time offenders — businesses and individuals — can be fined $100; the penalty climbs to $500 for repeat offenses.

Gambling floors at Detroit's three casinos are exempt from the ban. So are the state's 20 casinos run by Indian tribes, which aren't subject to the state law. Cigar bars and tobacco specialty shops that meet certain criteria, including the Camacho Cigar Bar inside Comerica Park's Tiger Club, also are exempt.

“We have been enforcing restrictions in restaurants since the 1980s, making sure there is a smoke-free area,” Ms. Head said. “Now we'll be looking to see if the whole place is smoke-free.”

She said enforcement would depend on complaints from customers, but she did not expect a flood of them.

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