Professor Dean Winther
30 November 2012
Smoking Bans in Casinos
Las Vegas is often referred to as “Sin City”. People come here from all over the world to gamble, party, and enjoy the nightlife this city has to offer. Vacationers expect a crazy trip where “sinning” is the norm. Vegas is a place where you can get away from rules and laws, and many think they should be able to drink and smoke to their heart’s content. But recently, Vegas passed laws banning smoking in restaurants and taverns. These bans were quickly lifted in gaming taverns with the new rule that all guests had to be at least 21 to enter. Casinos remain exempt from smoking bans in the majority of gaming areas. Many argue that Vegas would lose too much money if casinos were forced to prohibit smoking. Others think the benefits would outweigh the costs. I believe it’s time Vegas banned smoking in all indoor areas, including casinos.
Many smokers argue that a smoking ban infringes on their rights to enjoy a cigarette. But really, it’s the non-smoker whose rights are violated when they are forced to gamble or work in a cloud of secondhand smoke. “Research from Stanford and Tufts universities shows secondhand smoke is a danger to millions of casino patrons and thousands of workers” (Myers). People have a right to enjoy a casino without being in danger. Baskies sums it up well: It is troubling to hear the public discussion on this vital public health issue reduced to a debate over the rights of smokers and nonsmokers, when I know this legislation is the difference between life and death for many. Countless studies have scientifically confirmed the devastating health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke. The evidence is so overwhelming, it begs reality that anyone could make an argument against an indoor smoking ban with a clear conscience (80). People in Las Vegas should be able to spend their money at casinos without having to put their lives at risk. The non-smoking gamblers are put in harm’s way when they sit next to a smoker because of the dangers of secondhand smoke. According to Scheller, secondhand smoke, also referred to as ETS (environmental tobacco smoke), is responsible for 3,000 lung cancer deaths in the United States each year. Secondhand smoke is also responsible for 40,000 deaths each year from heart and blood vessel disease (52). Scheller indicates “The American Cancer Society reports that heart, lung, and other diseases caused by secondhand smoke result in 53,000 deaths annually. It is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., after smoking and alcohol” (52). Bentson notes that “The American Heart Association has pointed out that Nevada’s failure to include gambling areas, where smoke is most concentrated, in its smoking bans is the reason the state has not seen a significant decrease in heart attacks. Other states saw such a drop after passing comprehensive smoking bans.” Nevadans and casino patrons need to fight to be able to enjoy the casinos without putting their health at risk.
The casino workers pay the biggest price for smoke on the gaming floor. Hudson says, “Smoking bans in the workplace are essential for the health and well-being of employees. Employers have a common law duty to provide a safe and healthy working environment for employees” (28). A study in the New York Times examined 29 non-smoking dealers and supervisors at Bally’s Park Place Casino and took air samples on the casino floor. According to the study, “Urine and blood samples submitted were tested for cotinine, which is a byproduct of the breakdown of nicotine in the body. It shows that there were substantially higher levels of this toxin after their shifts, which leads to increased risk of lung cancer and heart disease.” At the request of casino workers at Bally’s, Paris, and Caesars Palace, the CDC evaluated the risks associated with the smoke in the air at the casinos. “They measured exposures and...
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