Kansas casinos should start out smoke-free

As construction of a first casino the State of Kansas will own continues in Dodge City, an advocacy group is warning the state lottery that it will be violating federal law if it doesn’t ban smoking there — and in every other casino the state owns.
The logic of smoke-free gaming is that individuals with lung and breathing problems won’t be able to gamble in a smoke-filled casino and that would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
If the Legislature bans smoking in public places statewide, as it will be asked to do in the 2010 session, Kansas casinos will be smoke-free. (Whether Indian casinos would come under the law probably would have to be litigated.)
A smoking ban would cause concern in Wyandotte County. The casino expected to be built there would be in close competition with the Missouri riverboat gambling dens where the air is as thick with tobacco fumes as the San Francisco bay bridge is thick with morning fog.
A spokesperson for Penn National Gaming, the company that expects to build or help build a Wyandotte County casino on dry land, remembered who buttered his bread and declared:
“Smokers will vote with their feet,” said Eric Schippers. “There is no question that your business will do less revenues.”
Well, yes, Mr. Schippers, there is a question.
Fact is that the percent of the adult population that smokes is down below 25 percent and falling. And the 75 percent who do not smoke because they can read the stats, hate to burn up good money and don’t like holes in their shirts and pants, really prefer to entertain themselves in smoke-free places.
That’s why, Mr. Schippers, restaurants that are smoke-free are doing dandy fine, despite all of the dire warnings that diners would vote with their feet and find a smelly place to eat where they can get their eyes properly red and runny and recover that comforting cough.
No, Mr. Schippers, smoke-free casinos won’t also be gambler-free. More’s the pity.

— Emerson Lynn, jr.

N.B. Full disclosure: I smoked cartons of cigar-ettes between 1950 and 1978. Dumb decision. Glad I finally quit. Completely convinced every effort to discourage smoking should be pursued avidly. Tobacco is a mass murderer. E.E.L.