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Smoking ban should remain for all casinos

Publication Date: 11/23/2010
  • Author:Pantagraph Editorial Board
  • Publication:Bloomington (IL) Pantagraph

At the same time the federal government is rolling out plans for new, more graphic warnings on cigarette packages, Illinois lawmakers are considering a step backwards: lifting the ban on smoking in casinos...

When the Smoke-Free Illinois Act was signed in 2007 (taking effect in 2008), the governor's office estimated that about $3.2 billion in medical expenses annually could be attributed to smoking in Illinois.

Such costs seem to be overlooked by those advocating modifications to the smoking ban to improve the bottom line of casinos...

Casinos in surrounding states permit gamblers to smoke. The Illinois smoking ban undoubtedly caused some smokers in border areas to do their gambling in nearby casinos that allow smoking or it decreased the time they spent gambling because they had to move outside for a cigarette. But, as mentioned earlier, smoking carries costs, too. And the downturn in the economy also played a role in decreased gambling revenues.

If casinos are granted an exemption based on the supposed economic impact of the smoking ban, expect bars to be next in line to seek an exemption. Where will it end?

If smokers want to gamble with their own lives, that's one thing. But permitting smoking in a workplace stacks the odds against employees exposed to that smoke. And in today's economy there is an even stronger argument against saying those who don't want to be exposed to smoke should just find another job.

Lawmakers should reject House Bill 1846 and retain the ban on smoking in casinos.