Gov. Rick Snyder wants to give the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) the authority to require that all state-owned and operated beaches be smoke-free.
Snyder announced the initiative on Wednesday, Sept. 14, as part of his Special Message to the Legislature on Health and Wellness during a visit to the Heart of the City Health Center in Grand Rapids.
The governor notes that tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death, killing 14,419 Michiganders in 2009. It also costs the state more than $3.4 billion a year in health care costs, according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Calls to the governor’s office for clarification and more information about the proposal weren’t returned prior to press time.
This isn’t the first time officials serving in Lansing have tried to snuff out smoking at public beaches. Under Senate Bill (SB) 481, introduced in 2007 by then-state-Sen. Michelle McManus (R-Lake Leelanau), smoking would have been prohibited at all public bathing beaches throughout the state.
According to the bill, bathing beaches refer to beaches or bathing areas offered to the public for recreational bathing or swimming. As introduced, the bill’s provisions would have applied to every public beach in the state.
Motivation for the bill stemmed from both cigarette butts being tossed onto beaches and the litter problem that presents, and the second-hand smoke issue. At the time, McManus said littered butts may also pose a safety problem — not-quite-all-the-way-out cigarette butts constitute a burn risk for bare-foot beach users.
The bill didn’t address penalties or enforcement issues.
SB 481 was never reported out of the Senate Economic Development and Regulatory Reform Committee to the full Senate floor for consideration.