Should Michigan bars be allowed smoking patios?

Rep. Tom McMillan challenges Michigan's ban with amendment for outdoor smoking

By Roger Weber - Reporter

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. - In 2009, the Michigan legislature voted to ban smoking in bars and restaurants.

Representative Tom McMillan (R-Rochester Hills) was a no vote back then and now he wants to amend the law.

"This is the outdoors, smoke dissipates," he said.

Under McMillan's bill, bars and restaurants with outdoor areas would have the option of letting people light up in the designated spot.

"Business owners should have the ability to decide what's best for their business. Now certainly some people say, 'Well, I wouldn't go there,' well that business owner will have to decide who will go there because of the smoking and who won't," said McMillan.

Bar Louie in Rochester Hills has a large outdoor area. "No Smoking" signs are posted and the general manager said he would prefer to keep it that way.

"I think the smoking ban has worked great. I haven't seen any decrease in sales or business. I think since everybody is following the ban it's a level playing field, and people are still going out to eat and still going out to bars. So I really don't think it's hurt the business at all," said Alex Lozovoj, of Bar Louie.

McMillan says has the support of some bar and restaurant owners, though none of them asked him to draft the bill.

"It's more of a liberty issue for me and property rights," he said.

McMillan said he has bipartisan support and believes he has a good chance at getting this bill passed. He will go up against one very important group, the Michigan Restaurant Association, which apposes the bill.

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