MCC 2010 Spirit of Collaboration Award Winner Dr. Ron Davis Smokefree Air Law Implementation
About the Initiative On May 1, 2010, the Dr. Ron Davis Smokefree Air Law went into effect
after years of advocacy on behalf of non-smokers and workers in
Michigan. During the four months between passage of the law in December of 2009 and the effective date, many organizations and State departments collaborated to make sure the transition to a smokefree state went smoothly. Many legal issues, enforcement logistics, and implementation details needed to be sorted out in a very tight time frame.
To implement the smokefree air law, Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Department of Community Health had to work together. The law included two parts. The first required all food service establishments to be smokefree, which made the Department of Agriculture responsible for enforcement along with the local health departments. The second required all other worksites that were not food service establishments to be smokefree, with the Department of Community Health and local health departments responsible for enforcement.
With very few resources, outside organizations including the Campaign for Smokefree Air and Tobacco-Free Michigan became involved, along with other non-traditional partners.
Impetus for the Collaboration It was extremely important that the smokefree law be implemented
smoothly and enforcement issues be limited. Problems or perceived problems with the law could open a can of worms, including potential legal and legislative challenges.
In Ohio, the implementation of a smokefree law in 2006 led to mass confusion and an unorganized enforcement procedure, resulting in the delay of the effective date of the law by more than six months. Michigan’s experience was drastically different.
In Wisconsin, State and local health departments were given a year and a half to implement and educate the public about the state's new smokefree law. In fact, Wisconsin’s smokefree law was signed by its governor exactly seven months before Michigan's law, and the Wisconsin law went into effect more than two months later than the Michigan law.
Results Michigan has been working for over a decade to pass smokefree legislation. However, State departments can do very little to prepare for a new statewide law until that law is passed by the legislature. With only four months to work, these State departments and outside organizations collaborated at a level seldom seen in our State government to pull off a monumental task. This included clarifying enforcement language, training State and local health personnel, communicating with State and local law enforcement, and educating Michigan's consumer and business communities about how to comply with the new law.
Many states that have passed similar smokefree laws have had up to a
year or more to implement their law and educate the public. Michigan did not. Other states were also given additional budgets up to and exceeding $10 million for implementation; Michigan’s Department of Community Health received no additional funding.
The Dr. Ron Davis Smokefree Air Law included several exemptions that created some confusion about which businesses were covered and which were not. Additionally, this collaborative group had to combat the overwhelming misinformation and claims that were being spread throughout the state about the law.
These issues were solved within the four-month time frame without additional funding. The training and education necessary to transition to a smokefree state also was completed without any major issues.
To achieve this outcome, many tasks were completed. A mailing was sent to over 60,000 restaurants and bars in Michigan to educate them on the law and what they needed to do to comply; a second mailing with the same information was sent to more than13,000 other Michigan businesses.
A website and toll-free phone line dedicated to questions and inquiries regarding the law were launched. All organizations involved in the effort agreed to use one source of information. Other outside organizations, such as the Michigan Restaurant Association and the Small Business Association of Michigan, were consulted on the best way to communicate with their members about the law .
The group successfully implemented a statewide education campaign covering all 83 Michigan counties in the last two months leading up to the effective date. This included well over 100 presentations given throughout the state and the distribution of educational information to thousands of residents, business owners, and local elected officials.
Collaborators held six regional education and enforcement trainings with local health officers, health educators, environmental health officers, and sanitarians. To highlight the positive effects of the law, over 35 events were coordinated or advertised surrounding the May 1st effective date of the law.
As a result of this comprehensive implementation plan and unprecedented collaboration, Michigan witnessed one of the smoothest transitions to becoming a smokefree state of any of the 36 states that have implemented smokefree laws to date.
One month after the Michigan law became effective, complaints received by local health departments and the Michigan Department of Community Health Tobacco Section were significantly lower than had been projected.
Most importantly, all of this was done without any additional resources or funding.
Lessons Learned Through collaboration, stakeholders were able to ensure a smooth
implementation of the new statewide smokefree law. This effort brought together both traditional and non-traditional partners to work toward successful implementation of the law. Multiple State of Michigan departments and sections worked together to make this a success, disproving the misconception that State departments rarely cooperate with one another.
“Dr. Ron Davis Smokefree Air Law Implementation” received the Michigan Cancer Consortium’s 2010 Spirit of Collaboration Award. The annual award is presented to member organizations that have done outstanding collaborative work to significantly move comprehensive cancer control activities forward in Michigan.