Protect Local Control

Ensuring Community Rights
To Pass Smokefree Ordinances

News Summary

Illinois Casino Workers May Soon Be Exposed To Secondhand Smoke

Publication Date: 2011-03-10
  • Author:Terry Goodwin

Illinois lawmakers played the charade for a while that all indoor workers in the state should be protected by a smoking ban. Now, however, lawmakers are starting to change their tune, recommending that casino workers be put back at risk for the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Two new bills have passed by a House Committee on Wednesday, and both are aimed at ensuring that casinos can offer smoking in their establishments in the near future. The first bill would allow individual areas to hand out smoking licenses, and the other would allow casinos to offer smoking indoors.

The second of the proposals is the one that has some pro-health advocates confused. Representative Dan Burke has proposed that casinos can offer smoking if casinos in the nearest neighboring state are allowing smoking.

"So basically what he is saying, is that if the states next to Illinois think it's a good idea to protect casino workers, then Illinois should do the same," said Franklin Gomez, an anti-smoking activist from Chicago. "That is a ridiculous policy. How can he (Burke) explain that to families who have lost loved ones to lung Cancer?"

Representative Anthony DeLuca proposed the bill that would allow smoking licenses in Illinois. Private clubs, bars, and restaurants would be eligible to apply for the licenses, and this piece of legislation also has its detractors.

"Smoking licenses? That is exactly why the smoking ban was put in effect, to protect workers at indoor establishments," said Lily Brown. "Now they are going to say its acceptable to smoke in some indoor places, but not others? That just makes no sense at all."

Illinois casinos have been complaining about the smoking ban since it went into effect. Before they even knew how the ban would effect business, casino owners were lobbying to have exceptions carved out for the gaming facilities, and now they appear close to getting their wish.