Jun 24, 2010
Bill to do away with casino exception to smoking ban introduced
As promised, the next battle against deadly secondhand smoke got underway today when Sen. Ray Basham, D-Taylor, introduced Senate Bill 1406 that will do away with an exception for casinos to the popular workplace smoking ban that went into effect on May 1.
SB 1046 would make the Detroit casinos smoke-free and extend to casino workers the same protection bar and restaurant patrons and employees enjoy from secondhand smoke. Basham has been fighting for the health of Michigan workers for more than a decade, and he was a key figure in helping pass legislation that took effect in May to make the state’s bars and restaurants smoke-free.
“Secondhand smoke doesn’t make any exceptions or exemptions, and Michigan law shouldn’t either,” Basham said. “The Legislature finally took action to protect patrons and workers in the state’s bars and restaurants from secondhand smoke exposure, and the men and women who work in the state’s casinos should be extended the same consideration for their safety.”
According to surveys, nearly two-thirds of Michigan voters support a workplace ban that includes bars and restaurants. Michigan became the 38th state to protect its workers from deadly secondhand smoke exposure. South Dakota, Montana, Vermont, Nebraska and Louisiana have strengthened their laws even further to make their workplaces, including restaurants, bars and gaming areas, 100 percent smoke-free. Data from the New York City Department of Finance shows that their tax receipts increased after the city went smoke-free, and there was also significant job growth in its bars and restaurants.
The predictions of a drop in business were not only false, but many bars and restaurants actually reporting an increase in business after the law went into effect.
Last summer air quality testing (AQT) conducted in Detroit’s three casinos revealed indoor pollution levels that were eight times higher than outdoor air, debunking the claim casino operators made in committee hearings on the smoking ban that their ventilation systems should earn them an exception to the workplace smoking ban.
When House Bill 4377 was approved with a bipartisan vote last December that made the Dr. Ron M. Davis Act law, a compromise exempted Detroit’s three casinos and so-called cigar bars because some people falsely believed the propaganda that a smoking ban would harm business. The success of the ban disproved that. Some critics of this public health issue pointed to the casino exception as proof that the smoking ban was not about protecting the health of workers and customers. This bill shoots that argument down.
“Casinos may be a safe-haven for smokers, but they’re like a gas chamber for workers,” Basham said. “Most Michigan bars and restaurants have gone smoke-free without any major uproar or a decrease in business, and have been able to still accommodate smokers without putting their non-smoking patrons and employees in harm’s way. It’s time for our state’s casinos to do the same, and I hope my colleagues in the Legislature will act quickly to pass this legislation.”
Secondhand smoke is the second leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and at least 200,000 workers die every year due to exposure to second-hand smoke at work. In 2006, the Surgeon General concluded that there is no risk-free level of exposure to secondhand smoke and that eliminating smoking from all indoor areas is the only way to fully protect people from secondhand smoke exposure.