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Proposal To Ban Casino Smoking Is Being Retooled

Publication Date: 2008-03-15
  • Author:Ted Mann
  • Publication:The Day (New London, CT)

Lawmakers Air Concerns About Potential Showdown With Tribes

Lawmakers hoping to expand Connecticut's smoking ban to two tribal-owned casinos are moderating the language of their proposal on the eve of a key committee vote, amid concerns from colleagues that forcing the ban onto the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes will unnecessarily poison relations with the tribal governments.

State Sen. Mary Ann Handley, D-Manchester, said in an interview Friday afternoon that her bill to require Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods Resort Casino to comply with the ban was "a work in progress," and confirmed accounts by other legislators that the language of the proposal would be modified to avert what appeared a potential showdown with the two tribes over issues of sovereignty and public health.

Handley, the co-chairwoman of the Public Health Committee, would not reveal specific changes planned for her bill, which would have removed the exemption for the two casinos included in the legislature's 2003 smoking ban for workplaces, restaurants and most bars. But she said it would likely include language calling for further study of air quality concerns raised by labor unions that support broadening the ban, as well as a call for negotiation among tribal and state government officials on how to extend Connecticut's anti-smoking policies into the casinos, which currently allow smoking in many areas of the gaming floor.

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