Sen. Jones working to help small businesses


LANSING — State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, is taking action to help bars that have been adversely impacted by the state’s smoking ban.

“The smoking ban has had a massively negative impact on small businesses, Michigan Lottery sales and the state budget,” Jones said. “Numerous bar owners have repeatedly approached me about the need to do something about how the ban is affecting their business and livelihoods.”

The lawmaker introduced Senate Bill 352 to allow small business owners to have a separate room for smokers. Under the bill, wait staff working at restaurants and bars with smoking rooms would not have to serve individuals seated in smoking rooms or on open air patios.

From May 2010, when the ban took effect, to July 2010, overall sales were down nearly 28 percent for small businesses impacted by the smoking ban. According to the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association, in that same period, alcohol sales were down about 28 percent, while food sales were down 20 percent.

A report from the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Growth shows that approximately 10,000 jobs were lost in the leisure and hospitality sector from October 2009 to October 2010.

The Michigan Lottery has also been negatively affected by the ban. Keno sales are down about 15 percent since the ban took effect. That translates into approximately $17 million less in school funding and less profits for business owners who receive 6 percent of Keno sales at their establishments.

According to information obtained from the Michigan Lottery, Keno is losing more than $1.5 million a week and more than $80 million annually compared to sales before the ban.

“My measure does not overturn the smoking ban,” Jones said. “It simply allows business owners to have a separate room for smokers that is ventilated or has double doors. This is a solution to help our small businesses but also ensure that we are protecting our residents.”

Under Jones’ proposal waitresses and waiters will never have to work in smoke and patrons will not have to go outside in rain, snow and ice.