Michigan Smoking Ban Regulations

Smoking will be prohibited in all public places and indoor workplaces including restaurants, hotels and bars under the Michigan Smoking Ban. Under the law, the “workplace” is defined as any place that serves food or drink and has at least one employee.


Smoking will still be permitted in vehicles, even those vehicles used for work. It will also be permitted in home offices, according to the Detroit Free Press.


As we previously reported, Michigan is the 38th state to pass a smoking ban, which becomes effective on May 1, 2010. An exception to the ban will permit smoking on the gambling floor of the Detroit-area casinos, while prohibiting smoking in casino bars, restaurants and hotels.


Hookah bars and cigar bars can continue to operate as long as they do not serve any food or beverages. Smoking is banned on the outdoor patios of restaurants, and in all hotel rooms. Workers on construction sites are permitted to smoke outside, but not inside.


This law is the result of a decade-long effort by Michigan legislators, mostly Democrats, to implement a smoking ban. A recent survey shows that 66% of Michigan voters support some type of smoking ban.


Employers must post appropriate non-smoking signs throughout the workplace, especially at entrances and exits. Ashtrays and other smoking implements are prohibited. If an employee is caught smoking, the employee will be subject to tickets, fines and penalties. The fine is $100 for the first violation and up to $500 for subsequent violation. This also applies to customers, clients and vendors in the workplace.


Michigan employers are required to inform employees of the fines for smoking.


Employees will not be able to argue that while they were holding a lit cigarette, they were not smoking. The law defines “smoking” as “burning a lighted cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other matter or substance that contains a tobacco product.” This definition would seem to permit chewing tobacco at work.


The law passed on December 10, 2009 goes into effect on May 1, 2010. It applies to any indoor workplace where at least one employee is performing work for the employer. The law would prohibit designated indoor smoking areas or rooms in the workplace.


The Michigan smoking ban also specifically prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who exercises his or her rights by objecting to smoking in the workplace.

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10 Thoughts on “Michigan Smoking Ban Regulations”


December 25, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Exempting the casinos certainly debunks the myth of bans not affecting business.


December 25, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Hi Bob! Actually, smoking bans in other states have had little effect on the total amount that customers spend in bars and restaurants, when all of them are covered by smoking bans. While restaurant and bars within 20 miles of a state where smoking is allowed did suffer, total revenues statewide did not. Fears that customers would rather stay home and smoke than go out to eat or drink have proven unfounded. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia


December 26, 2009 at 10:51 am

Here in Chicago, after two years, the ban is fading into forgotten history in many small neighborhood bars. There are a dozen or more small bars within 2 miles of my place ignoring the ban. It’s totally uneforcible. Restaurants are doing ok with higher turnover, and many smoking customers calling in “to go” orders. The only complaints called in are from people who get 86ed from a bar, even those that comply.


December 26, 2009 at 11:23 am

Hi Bob! Actually, the Illinois smoking ban is enforcable, but managers simply receive a ticket with a fine for non-compliance. Many bars permit smoking but have a “smoking kitty” where smokers drop a few dollars into the jar, to pay the fines for smoking. So far, it seems to work well for those business owners. (We disagree that the only people lodging complaints are bar patrons that have been kicked out.)
The main effect of the ban is that groups of smokers no longer huddle just outside the doors of public places — they must be at least 15 feet away, and overall compliance is good.
As you note, many restaurant owners feel the smoking ban has improved business because smokers are less inclined to linger now — they are in a rush to go outside for a smoke! Smoking is completely eliminated in restaurants and other public places, with no financial downside.
Again, in every state that has implemented a smoking ban, the tax revenues from restaurants and bars are comparable to states that permit smoking. So while a few non-viable restaurants may have gone out of business, state-wide the total revenue spent in restaurants is the same. Oftentimes, it is easier for a restaurant or bar owner to blame the smoking ban than poor management or lack of capital for a business failure…but that doesn’t mean the information is accurate.
Nevertheless, we report on employment law, we don’t make it. Our purpose is merely to keep employers and HR pros informed of the newest laws. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia


April 24, 2010 at 12:08 am

Hi all!
Have no problem with establishment’s not wanting smoker’s, think it will be great not having to smell it…being a smoker I have always been very respectfull of non smoker’s. I do belive it is the choice of the owners to allow smokeing or non.
Has anyone thought of the employee’s right’s…you know those nice people making you wonderfull food or serving beverages, we work 12 hour day’s and rarely get break’s, guess no one thinks of this because everyone in normal 9-5 jobs do have established break periods, we do not!


April 24, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Hi andrew! Actually, based on the posts we get, many people who work 9-5 jobs do not get meal or rest breaks either. A total of 19 US states have laws that require breaks for all workers, including food servers. Michigan does not. In Michigan, as in 30 other states it is up to the employer whether employees will be granted breaks or not — and many employers choose not to. You can contact your rep in the state legislature to pass a meal break law in Michigan. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

April 25, 2010 at 5:52 pm

I respect the people who do not smoke. And I do go out of my way not to smoke around them. BUT…..I do think it`s wrong for the goverment to decided who smokes and where! This is not a commuinist country! What`s next? We are all going to have to pay pentalties for not having health insurance? I own a Taxi business and I do not allow our customers or drivers to smoke in the Cabs. (with respect to others who don`t smoke) Now the problem is why can`t I smoke in my office doing my paper work? I do not get paid. I do endless hours of paper work. I am alone and I close my office door and turn on my smoke eaters. And this summer will open my windows. I will post that my drivers cannot smoke in the driving room. (which I think they should be allowed) There are no food or beverages sold in the building. Why can I not be exempt? I live in Michigan. Sandy


April 26, 2010 at 8:02 am

Hi Sandy! Thanks for raising some great issues. Let us say first that our staff did not pass the Michigan Smoke Free law — your representitives in the state legislature did. So if you want the law changed, you should volunteer for a candidate who also believes that.
We can shed a little light on this issue. Unfortunately, not all employers are as considerate as you are. This law was made to protect nonsmoking employees from being exposed to secondhand smoke 40 hours per week. It is a worker safety issue, pure and simple. As far as your drivers smoking in the driving room, the thought process is that a nonsmoking driver would be exposed to secondhand smoke for all the time he or she was in the driving room, and that work environments should not contain chemicals known to cause cancer. Think of it this way: if a female driver is pregnant, her baby is being exposed to secondhand smoke constantly, if the other drivers smoke at work. That is probably not a situation you want. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

stressed CNA

May 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm

I have a few questions maybe you could clear up for me, first off…i need clear definition of the nonsmoking in the workplace…before the smoking ban went into effect we could go out to our vehicles on our breaks and smoke….now our vehicles are parked some 300 feet from the door to go into work…am i not allowed to do that anymore??…ive searched for laws on this but none of them are clearly defined.


May 3, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Hi stressed CNA! This is a matter of company policy rather than employment law. An employer in any state can legally prohibit smoking on company property — including smoking in employee vehicles in the parking lot. Or, the employer can simply not allow employees to go to their vehicles while they are on break. Instead, the employee can be require to remain on the premises during breaks. However, the Michigan Smoking Ban does not require this by law.

Many employers implement such a policy because an employee who has recently smoked reeks of tobacco, which is unpleasant for coworkers and customers. Other employers such as hospitals have always had similar regulations, in an effort to encourage employees to safeguard their health by not smoking. The bottom line is that you have the right to smoke in your home, but not necessarily on the employer’s property. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

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