Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Compromise? More like sell-out

A compromise is being proposed so that Atlantic City could ban smoking in casinos but allow up to 25% of the gambling floor to be designated a smoking section, enclosed and with separate ventilation.

“I have an understanding that we owe the casino industry some kind of a compromise instead of banning (smoking) completely,” said Councilman Dennis Mason, who sponsored the measure after about four weeks of negotiations with the Casino Association of New Jersey, a trade group representing the resort's 11 casinos. “I think this is fair.”

Was that understanding arrived at after intensive lobbying by the casino industry, perhaps? This isn't about being "fair" to the casinos- it's about protecting the workers.

But Councilman Bruce Ward, who proposed the full ban, maintained that he and fellow ban proponent Councilman Gene Robinson will not waiver from their stance to ban casino smoking outright.
“We have signed off in a blood bond,” Ward said. “I'm going to continue do everything I can to protect the employees and patrons so they can work in a safe and healthy environment.”
That environment should include everyone, Ward said, pointing out that while employees working in the smoke-free areas will maintain their health, there are still employees who must work among the smokers in the limited smoking sections.

Actual people, with lungs, will have to work there.

The article also mentions a study by University of Nevada-Reno showing the percentage of gamblers who smoke is just about the same as the percentage of the population who smoke, refuting the old argument that there would be a devastating economic impact to a ban. Honestly, most smokers are quite used to having to smoke outdoors, even during their leisure time; I highly doubt that it will have some huge impact on casino profits. (Don't forget that's what the casinos are actually concerned with- not jobs in Atlantic City, but their profits.)

Thanks for standing firm, Councilmen Ward and Robinson. Hopefully this ban will pass and all the workers who are being treated as second-class citizens by this loophole in the state law will be protected.

Not just 75% of them.

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