Some Michigan businesses are apparently playing with fire by purposely ignoring the state smoking ban.
News Center 16 visited one of those businesses today—and saw full ash trays along with a jar for customer donations. The stated purpose of the donations was to pay any fines that would be imposed if the bar got caught.
When the business owner was asked if the bar was the only area business that allowed smoking, the reply was, No, there’s plenty, there’s plenty. They’re just a little bit more careful at the way they go about doing it.”
The owner said that while they feared retribution for breaking the law, not-breaking the law would carry worse consequences. “I’m going to be down and out of business before long.”
The Commander of AMVETS post 1978 admits that establishment basically ignored the ban for the first two weeks, until it got caught, warned, and scared straight.
Now AMVETS is smoke free, even though management today blamed the ban for cutting business by more than 50 percent.
“You’re best just to abide by the law, what else can you do?” said Richard Karmolinski. “There’s a lot of them that do (smoke), I know, why they’re actually breaking the law so to speak, even if you don’t agree with it.”
Charlie’s Colonial Bar plays by the rules, although the owner wasn’t surprised to hear about others who don’t.
“The way they’re policing it, there are quite a few places that do still smoke,” said Charlie’s co-owner Becky Clark.
Clark estimates that three out of ten bars in her area are breaking the smoking ban on a regular basis. “So it’s not real bad, but everybody knows who the ones are who do do it.”
The way the enforcement system is set up, a complaint would have to come from a patron who witnessed a violation.
If no complaint is received—there’s not much a health department can do.
“Somebody has to make a complaint and a lot of people don’t like to sign their name and they enjoy drinking there, they don’t want to, you know, cause any waves or anything,” said Clark.