For Immediate Release:
On New Years Eve (12-31-10) Michigan small business owners stood together in solidarity to send a clear message to Lansing, Michigan’s 45 local and district community health departments, and the pro-ban lobby. That message was, “WE’VE HAD ENOUGH!”.
Mom and pop bar, tavern and pub owners refused to enforce the private property tobacco use ban on behalf of the state. A ban that only applies to private property. A ban that has lead to such a dramatic loss of business for thousands across the state. A loss of hours and wages for workers. A ban that infringes on one of America’s most sacred rights: The rights of property owners.
Bar owners are demanding answers from the state:
-Why are small business owners charged with enforcing a ban on the use of a legally sold product on their private property — while they [bar owners and workers] only, face administrative and/or punitive action under this code?
*Despite the language in the code, individuals CANNOT be fined or cited by health department employees. There is no way for an individual to be issued a citation by the non-law enforcement health department employees. Again, despite the language of the code.
-Why are the 45 county and district health departments in the state enforcing the ban in 45 very different ways? It is unequal enforcement plain and simple.
-Why Detroit’s casinos are protected from the competition from tribal land casinos that are hours away — However, bars “just down the road” and very much across the street are not protected from the competition from the now competitively priced and booming Detroit’s casinos. As well as the tribal land bars and restaurants.
There is no “level playing field”.
While the very small, very well funded pro-ban, anti-property rights lobby will continue to contend this is simply a matter of smoking or no smoking — bar owners sent them a message on New Years Eve that clearly stated: “Our business, our property, stay out if you don’t like it”. “If its not your business, its not your business”.
A pub is not a park. A tavern is not a beach. A bar is not a library.
The PPPRM would like to continue our open meeting invitation to the directors of the departments of community health, and the leaders of the pro-ban lobby — to come and speak with bar owners and worker themselves, personally, face to face — to explain how the ban “is not hurting their businesses”. To stop hiding behind press releases and selectively penned statistics. Come themselves to see that these owners and workers are actual people. People that have a very real stake in their businesses. A stake [vested interest]that the pro-ban lobby does not posses in these businesses.
Should they ever accept, bar owners have expressed they will ensure they [invitees] are provided a smoke free environment and as much time to read bar owners their “statistics” and “studies” that show how their businesses are “doing fine” and how these experienced business owners are mistaken.
There were an estimated 700 bars that took back their property right on New Years Eve. Exceeding all expectations. While confirmations continue to come in, we are confident this number will grow significantly. Several bar owners have reported already receiving calls from county health departments. Bar owners remain hopeful that the pro-ban lobby and the minority that support them, did in fact flood the county and district health departments with complaints. This will assist to provide conclusive evidence that this ban is in fact enforced 45 separate ways statewide.
One of the many serious issues bar owners have brought to light with their protest, is the disposition of several county and district health departments — the abuse of their new and unclear “power”. The use of intimidation and selective interpretation of the law.
An example of this: Ingham county health department employee Marcus Cheatham. Speaking on behalf of the Ingham CO department in regard to ban enforcement, told WILX News that fear is the chosen tactic Ingham County uses to enforce this ban. Mr. Cheatham told the reporter quote: “We want them to be afraid”.
This cannot not and will not be tolerated by Michigan small business owners or the People of Michigan. No government or government agency should enforce laws or their interpretation of law, on the People, through fear! No Michigander, business owner or Citizen should fear their government or their representatives!
This law and its unclear language has facilitated these types of tactics to be used by government employees. Employees not trained or authorized in law enforcement. All Michiganders should condemn this and the Ingham County Health Department for the use of fear and intimidation tactics.
The PPPRM will be issuing a letter of serious concern to the Ingham County board of Commissioners regarding Mr. Cheatham’s comments.
Bar owners have already begun to indicate that: Until this ban is amended and their rights are returned to them under the law; this protest was (in the words of bar owners) a “good start”. They have indicated that the protest was “just the beginning” of what they are willing to do to fight for their rights as private property owners, their businesses, and their employees jobs.
This issue is not about smoking — it is about bar owner’s rights as private property owners.
Public and Media Relations