December 16, 1992
Lansing, Michigan 48909
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Today, I vetoed and am returning to you, Enrolled Senate Bill 484.
Despite the fact that the word "tobacco" has been removed from the original bill, Enrolled Senate Bill 484 continues to be "smokers' rights" legislation. As I pointed
out in my March 11, 1992, "Special Message on Health Care," tobacco addiction kills more than 15,000 Michigan citizens every year (one fifth of all state deaths), and smoking-attributable disease saps over $2 billion each year from our state economy in medical expenses, lost work time, and lost productivity. To use the terminology of the bill, tobacco is the only "legal consumable product" that is harmful when used exactly as intended.
At a time when we must do everything we can to establish the norm of a drug-free society, Enrolled Senate Bill 484 would elevate the use of nicotine, one of the most addictive substances known, to a protected right. By putting tobacco use on the same level as our most cherished rights and liberties, Enrolled Senate Bill 484 would tend to trivialize fundamental rights like protection against discrimination based on race, gender, political ideology, or religious affiliation.
I am also concerned that Enrolled Senate Bill 484 would burden our courts and job providers with unsubstantiated claims of "smoker discrimination." By encouraging and exacerbating the litigation explosion, the bill would threaten our progress toward a healthy and productive business climate.
Finally, the bill is flawed not only in its promise, but also in its substance. The attempt to disguise the bill's intent to create a new class of rights for smokers through use of the term "legal consumable product" creates another problem concerning alcohol use. The bill creates and protects a right to use alcohol during working hours, as long as it is not consumed in the workplace. This is an unacceptable and dangerous flaw.
Enrolled Senate Bill 484 sends the wrong message at the wrong time. My actions today, which also include the signing of Enrolled House Bills 5017, 5226 and 5646— legislation designed to restrict access, especially children's access to tobacco products—sends a much better message, I commend the Legislature for their action on these proposals, and look forward to working with them in the upcoming legislative session to enact the remaining provisions I have outlined concerning tobacco use and its impact on the lives and livelihoods of our citizens.
Therefore, I am returning Enrolled Senate Bill 484 without signature.
Compiler's note: Enrolled Senate Bill No. 484, referred to above, is compiled in Michigan Senate Enrolled Bills (1992).