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Should Iowa casinos participate in nonsmoking event?

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | NOVEMBER 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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No

It doesn't matter how much something bothers you — you should not infringe on someone else's rights.

I don't think we have to argue the side-effects of smoking: It causes cancer, heart problems, and definite respiratory complications.

But in this culture, smokers are treated with a disdain, a sort of civil-rights neglecting usually reserved for children. The government is allowed to legislate against the group of people, because, frankly, no one likes the way they smell. Discrimination is discrimination, no matter how you spin it.

This is why casinos should not participate in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday. Adults should have the ability to choose, and someone needs to stand up for them.

Wes Ehrecke, the president of the Iowa Gaming Association, which represents Iowa's 18 state-regulated casinos, said the casinos will not participate in the Smokeout.

"We are doing a lot of proactive things to accommodate both smokers and nonsmokers. We think that adults should be able to make adult decisions in adult venues for people 21 and over and have the freedom to decide," he said.

Adult venues. Adult decisions. Adults.

With the regulation of the Iowa Smokefree Air Act, private business are forced to condemn smoking in their establishments. Many proponents of this government chokehold cite secondhand smoke as the proprietary reason for the necessity of this law, though they fail to explain why casinos are given an exemption in the first place. I wonder why …

Too many are swayed by the public-health propaganda, but when it comes down to the wire, it's about money for the government, and the government would not enforce a no-smoking policy in casinos because they provide jobs to the state and tax revenue. So why would the casinos participate?

Yes, smoking is terrible for you. But that does not give government the right to choose what is best for you personally. Casinos are the last protectors of this right, and should boycott the boycott, protest the protest, and stand up for the smokers of this state. The right to choose afforded to one minority should be afforded to all minorities.

Smoking is a personal choice. Businesses should be allowed to choose whether or not they will allow smoking in their venues.

This is not about smokers or nonsmokers. This is about freedom of choice.

— Benjamin Evans

Yes

Iowa's casinos should participate in the Great American Smokeout.

The nonprofits requesting the participation of casinos in this event are not demanding that casinos ban indoor smoking for days, or even weeks, but rather one single day to raise awareness of the health risks of smoking and to give employees a short reprieve. The Great American Smokeout occurs over a short, 24-hour period. The financial risks of banning indoor smoking in casinos for this short period do not outweigh the overall health benefits that the Great American Smokeout can provide.

Even though many of Iowa's casinos have ventilation systems to remove smoke from the environment and smoking is restricted to certain areas and employees, nonsmoking customers in casinos can still be affected by the secondhand smoke. One day without cigarettes and secondhand smoke is proven to help reduce the risk of acquiring heart disease. If casinos participated in the Smokeout, it would be a great and effective way of raising awareness of the harmful effects of smoking and secondhand smoke and might even help casinos gain a better public image.

While casinos are afraid of losing their smoking customers on that day, and rightly so, many people who go into casinos do not smoke, and would not mind a reprieve from the hazy, thick smell of cigarettes for one day. Perhaps the casinos will compensate for their lack of smoking clientele with nonsmokers who, knowing the casinos will be smoke-free for that day, take advantage of the healthier environment and come in. Many people who do not smoke avoid smoky environments, but perhaps, during the Great American Smokeout, they will feel more comfortable frequenting a casino that is obviously promoting a healthier lifestyle by banning indoor smoking for one day.

While there might be financial consequences for casinos for participating in the Great American Smokeout, the awareness and health benefits of seem to justify these losses.

— Sarah Damsky


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