Voting in favor of a statewide smoking ban was not an easy decision. I believe strongly in personal freedom and the rights of individuals to make decisions regarding their personal lives and private businesses. During my time in the House of Representatives I voted against bans, with and without exemptions, because I believed individuals were in the best position to determine whether to allow smoking in their business establishments, or frequent establishments where smoking was permitted.
Over the course of the last ten months I spoke with thousands of individuals while on the campaign trail. From those conversations, two issues became abundantly clear; first and foremost was the desire for more jobs and a turnaround in our economy. Second, was that citizens of the 19th District overwhelmingly supported some type of ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and other establishments open to the public.
After much reflection, debate, and dialogue with many individuals and business leaders, the decisions for me came down to the fact that I was sent to Lansing to represent the citizens of Calhoun and Jackson counties, not simply my personal beliefs. While they are still important, especially when the will of the people is not clear cut, this was not one of those times. The will of the citizens of the 19th District was to see some form of ban passed by the legislature, and that is what I voted to do.
It is my hope that this legislation will deliver on the goals laid out by its sponsors and be a key step in building a healthier Michigan, saving lives, and reducing health care costs for Michigan residents.