Smoke Free Casinos?

By: Kara Tsuboi
By: Kara Tsuboi

There have been a handful of proposals banning smoking in public places...in the past and presently. But none of them have suggested that smoking be banned in casinos.

Mother and daughter duo, Keri and Sally, are having such a good time gambling and smoking in Reno's casinos that they've ventured outside just once in their five day visit.

If Nevada ever adopted a law forcing Sally to take her smokes to the curb, she says the state's casinos would lose their appeal.

"Because I don't like to be inconvenienced. I wouldn't want to come."

Smokers have never seemed bothered by their own smoke. But the concern is for other patrons and casino employees who are forced to inhale the second-hand smoke.

"Particularly with the state of Nevada. All the workers we have are constantly exposed to Environmental Tobacco Smoke. It's really not right," says Chris Pritsos, a biochemist with the University of Nevada, Reno's nutrition department.

In his studies on second-hand smoke, the data has determined that Nevada casino workers ingest four times the amount of smoke of other workers.

"I think it's time we step to the plate and protect our workers."

He says that despite the obvious health risks, Nevada politicians are reluctant to write anti-smoking legislation for casinos in fear of hurting business.

But Pritsos says that given the examples in other cities with smoking bans, it's a unjustifiable fear.

"Initially, profits went down for a couple of months. But then they rebounded and now they're stronger than ever."

Many people--smokers and non-smokers alike--say a compromise would be possible.

"Sectioning off casinos with non-smoking and offering more non-smoking areas might be a way of getting the non-smoking people to come into casinos more," suggests Barbara Duffy from Sparks.


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