2010/11/17 P-D: Illinois pondering returning smoking to casinos

The following story, published on page 6 of today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, was the first I’d heard of any effort to weaken the Illinois Smoke Free Air Act, which went into effect in January, 2008.

This comprehensive law was unusual in that it also required casinos to be totally smoke-free. It was a major accomplishment on the part of the supporters of the law when Illinois included this broad provision which included casinos.

Often, as in St. Louis County and City ordinances passed last year which go into effect on January 2nd next year, such laws will exempt casino gaming floors and allow smoking on them. That is done not for health reasons but because it’s the path of least resistance, and avoids a fight with well-funded gaming interests.

Independent research funded by Missouri GASP into the impact of the Illinois Smoke Free Air Act on casino revenue, covering a full year before the law went into effect plus a full year afterwards, and comparing those results with neighboring states with no restrictions, is nearing completion. It provides important unbiased scientific data and conclusions on this issue, and should be carefully considered before any precipitous action is taken by the Illinois legislature.

Illinois pondering returning smoking to casinos

BY KEVIN McDERMOTT > kmcdermott@post-dispatch.com > 217-782-4912 | (93) Comments | Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 10:17 am

Illinois lawmakers return to
Springfield for veto session.

UPDATE, 3:10 pm — The measure to exempt the state’s casinos from the smoking ban passed the House Executive Committee today on a 9-1 vote. Several of the “yes” votes specified that they have problems with the bill and were merely voting to send it on for a full floor debate, a common practice. It now goes to the full House.

Among the witnesses was a Casino Queen lobbyist who argued, as other proponents do, that Illinois has lost some $500 million in two years to competition from neighboring states where smoking in the casinos is allowed. They revealed that about 20 state lawmakers toured the Queen and Lumiere in St. Louis on Monday to see for themselves the difference in foot traffic.

Speaking against the measure was the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Society and the Illinois Department of Public Health, which argued that it’s not clear the smoking ban is responsible for the revenue loss — and that, in any case, it’s peanuts next to the $4 billion-plus in health care costs to Illinois from smoking. They also argued the exception would be unfair to bars and others that would still be under the smoking ban.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois lawmakers this afternoon are expected to take up a bill that would roll back the state’s new smoking ban in gambling establishments.

Illinois recently banned smoking in all public indoor venues, including gaming facilities. The gaming industry claims that ban has put Illinois casinos at a competitive disadvantage with those of neighboring states like Missouri.

A bill expected before the Illinois House Executive Committee this afternoon (HB1846, House Amendment 1) would re-allow smoking in the state’s casinos, “if smoking is not banned in gaming facilities located in the nearest neighboring state.”

The measure goes on to state: “This exemption shall no longer apply to a gaming facility on and after the date that smoking is banned in gaming facilities located in the nearest neighboring state.”

The Legislature is back in Springfield today for the first day of its fall veto session. It will go for part of this week and then in the last week of the month.

37 responses to “2010/11/17 P-D: Illinois pondering returning smoking to casinos

  1. MoGASP, I look forward to seeing your research, but am wondering about something. Your article noted the following:

    “Among the witnesses was a Casino Queen lobbyist who argued, as other proponents do, that Illinois has lost some $500 million in two years to competition from neighboring states where smoking in the casinos is allowed. ”

    Just in terms of your thinking on this… what motivation do you think the Casino Queen lobbyist could possibly have OTHER than wanting to pull in the most money to the casino? Why would he/she lie about losses? I’d find it a stretch to argue that the casino folks are simply incompetent in understanding how to maximise their own business interests.

    😕
    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    • Michael, It’s not MY research, it’s the work of researchers at SLU and Wash. U., some of whom work in the Center for Tobacco Policy Research, Saint Louis University School of Public Health. From what I know of it, the study was done carefully and methodically. I’ve reviewed drafts, including a recent one, so I can vouch for that, and personally I’m not interested in any study which doesn’t meet that standard.
      There’s no inconsistency here – to my knowledge, the Casino Queen lobbyist isn’t lying – but I’m not at liberty to go into details because that would prejudice publication of the paper in a peer-reviewed journal.

  2. Sorry Mr. Pion, unless your study is being done by a full economist, the Federal Reserve study of Illinois casino revenue rules. MOGASP research “unbiased”?! How are you going to manage that?

    • Mr. Hannegan, we’ll manage it the way we always do: by being totally professional and scientific and giving whichever researcher is conducting the study free rein. We never know for sure ahead of time what results will be obtained and hope they’ll support our smoke-free air goals but we don’t ask the researcher to fudge anything. We pay the invoice regardless of the result.

  3. I am willing to bet that your research shows that the smoking ban had no significant negative effect on Illinois casino revenues.

    • Personally, I wouldn’t have been prepared to bet on the result beforehand, because it’s not self-evident. As for the title, your suggestion is catchy but it sounds more like a newspaper headline to me.

  4. “Independent research funded by Missouri GASP into the impact of the Illinois Smoke Free Air Act on casino revenue, covering a full year before the law went into effect plus a full year afterwards, and comparing those results with neighboring states with no restrictions, is nearing completion. It provides important unbiased scientific data and conclusions on this issue”

    Martin, how can you say this with a straight face? INDEPENDENT? UNBIASED? MOGASP doesn’t stand for “Missourians Oppose Groups Against Smoking Patrons”. You name says you’re BIASED.

    Give me a break. God doesn’t like liars.

    • Pam, mogasp didn’t conduct the research. What we did was suggest it as a very worthwhile subject to researchers at SLU and Wash. U. When those researchers submitted unsuccessful proposals for funding to different sources, we ended up funding it. But the funding wasn’t contingent on any particular result: the main researcher did the work on a part-time basis and our goal was to obtain the best data possible. The researchers involved have their professional reputations on the line and they’re not going to risk them for the paltry sum mogasp was able to afford.
      Claiming that MoGASP, which stands for Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution, instead means “Missourians Oppose Groups Against Smoking Patrons” shows a complete disregard of, and ignorance for, how we’ve always operated. Frankly, it’s dumb.
      And invoking God? To quote: “Give me a break!”

  5. MoGASP, I am willing to bet that the Wash/SLU research that you have commissioned will show that the Illinois smoking ban has had no significant negative effect on Illinois casino revenues. Let’s bet 5 to 1. You owe me $20 if the smoking ban is shown to have significantly hurt Illinois casinos and I owe you $1oo if your research shows it has not. No doubt I’ll lose!

    I also bet you will give your study the unbiased title “Gambling on Clean Air”.

    • Mr. Hannegan, as I noted, I’ve reviewed the latest draft so I know the conclusions reached by the researchers based on their study. It’s not a fair bet when one knows the outcome.

  6. Thanks for the response MoGASP, and while I have no idea what researchers could produce that would show those who have based their careers on maximizing casino $ to be wrong, I obviously can’t criticize its details without them.

    However, you shouldn’t be surprised at strong reactions to your statement. Let us suppose that MoGASP was a new, small, unfunded group whose work was beginning to bring about smoking bans. And suppose that I was a major regional publicist/promoter/lobbyist for PM, and that just before a major smoking ban vote in our region, I wrote blogged that I had worked with and funded an as yet unidentified team whose study neared completion on the overall economic impact of bans on areas with no bans vs those with full bans and said the study would “provide important unbiased scientific data and conclusions on this issue, and should be carefully considered before any precipitous action is taken by the Illinois legislature.”

    Would you suspect the truth of the research?

    • Michael, This is purely a hypothetical. I know that MoGASP has been scrupulous in the research it’s either conducted itself or funded to be done independently by others.

  7. You mentioned the “casino interests” and who funds them. You fail to mention whom is funding the ACS, the ALA, the AHA, researchers at SLU and Wash. U., some of whom work in the Center for Tobacco Policy Research, Saint Louis University School of Public Health. You would be doing truth a great service if you just went ahead and let the cat out of the bag. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant funds every one of them. You might want to tell people how many shares of Johnson and Johnson stock run this “family” charity. How much they grant fund every year in funds to promote bans. And how their stock value goes up with smoking bans. J&J do sell Nicoderm, Nicorette, Nicotrol, Nicoderm CQ, and Commit. THey channel these grant funds in and out of these foundations and charities until the connection to the drug company somehow gets hazy. Let’s get LOUD and get PROUD! Tell people where all this funding comes from, and explain WHY they do not lobby for the banning of the licensing of the selling of all tobacco products. Simple. It would end the sales of the nicotine replacement products of J&J, and end ALL the billions of dollars going to grant sponges for bans.

    • Sheila, Thank you for enlightening the public to the true motives of all of the above voluntary health groups and researchers, which is just to promote the sale of nicotine replacement therapy. Who knew?!

  8. Was this study a so called scientific peer reviewed study? If it was like the study that was done in argument of banning smoking in the casinos of Pa. I,d like to sue. In the Pa. scientific peer reviewed study it claimed “there were no losses at casinos in neighborng states such as Ohio that has a smoking ban”
    This study was released about a year ago. The problem is even at tbe present date 18 Nov. 2010 there is not one casino in Ohio!

    • Billy, to my knowledge, the study study conducted by SLU/Wash. U. researchers hasn’t been submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication yet. I hope it will be shortly though. I’m not familiar with the study you mention: please provide a reliable web link.

  9. Christine BredenKoetter

    To read the tirades of the pro-smoking crowd is getting soo old. I firmly believe your right to smoke ends at my right to breath unpolluted air. To even suggest smoking is a personal choice & I MUST tolerate it in public spaces flies in the face of reason. Admit your an addict and join a group such as the AA of smokers and quit.

    I watched my father die from his harmless habit and the money that was spent on healthcare for something that was so preventable was astronomical My siblings & I all have lung issues: I believe these are a direct result of my father’s smoking. So give it a rest, find a way to quit or confine your addiction out of public spaces.

    As the saying goes: you lost, deal with it. The rest of us are so happy that come January 1st our lungs will no longer be assaulted with this harmful public health hazard. Personally, if this causes the casinos to wither and die it would not be a bad result, they prey on those who are desperate and usually can little afford their losses.

    [mogasp: Thanks for providing your full name, as requested, and for the character count = 1000]

  10. Christine, like or not, smoking will continue in St. Louis bars, both legally and in defiance of the law. The statewide smoking ban in Ohio has not stopped smoking in bars. Neither will any ban in St. Louis.

    http://www.smokechoke.com/

    • Christine, What Mr. Hannegan is saying is that we shouldn’t have any laws because there will always be scofflaws. Hence, we should not have laws making homicide illegal because we will always have murderers. You get the idea…..

  11. Christine wrote, “To read the tirades of the pro-smoking crowd is getting soo old. … To even suggest smoking is a personal choice & I MUST tolerate it in public spaces flies in the face of reason. Admit your an addict and join a group such as the AA of smokers and quit.”

    I could suggest you “Admit you’re an ASDS sufferer and go to http://www.wispofsmoke.net/recovery.html to get cured of your affliction.” but instead, let me take the path of reassuring you that NO smoker here is seeking laws to mandate you “MUST tolerate (smoke) in public spaces.” There is not one of us seeking to mandate smoking be allowed in public places you are forced to enter. We advocate allowing owners of private businesses the choice to allow/ban smoking on their properties, and we defend the right to smoke outdoors as well.

    And while I do quite firmly suggest & defend the concept of smoking as a personal choice, may I ask if there are any particular “tirades” of mine that you feel are “getting soo old”?

    – MJM

  12. I find it interesting that nobody would fund an economic study into the smoking ban and casinos. While its possible to put out a study saying that ventilation increases SHS because the public doesn’t have the background knowledge to know the difference. However the revenue drop from the first minute of the ban can’t be hidden. Even in the battle of tobacco Wash U and SLUH evidently have drawn the line.

    I have no doubt that if this study sees the light of day it will conclude that smoking bans had no effect on casino revenue. What I’m most interested in is how you will “pull the rabbit out of the hat”.

  13. Christine BredenKoetter

    Aah so since Mr Hannegan does not like this particular law, shall our society become one of anarchy? Gee, if he wants to ignore this law because it does not suit his agenda, then why don’t we just throw away all laws and the Constitution out while we are at it. We have a system to enact proposals such as this it’s called voting, we voted, the issue passed. If you are unhappy then try to repeal the law through a referendum. I can guarantee your efforts will be in naught, there are too many smokers included who now know this habit is a health hazard and should not be tolerated in public spaces. Again same old tired arguments and rhetoric

  14. MoGASP, when government goes too far, civil disobedience can be an effective tactic in winning back freedom and property rights. The Dutch government recently rolled back the smoking ban in response to an organized campaign of noncompliance by bar owners. Noncompliance might work in St. Louis too.

    • Mr. Hannegan, Let’s hope people here, including you, are more responsible than to suggest civil disobedience. There’s no right to pollute the air in establishments to which the public is invited for business purposes, and in which people work.

  15. Christine and MoGASP

    If you look at the effects of Prohibition. Not only did it not have the desired affect to stopping drinking, it led to organized crime and civil disobediance on a scale never before seen. Bill is correct in that the public doesn’ t have to accept every law and in fact if we believe a law to be unjust then it is our duty to fight that law. We are not throwing out the Constitution but upholding it.

    You don’t like smoking – I get that. Christine your father smoked and it led to his death I get that (just as alcohol led to the deaths of both my grandfathers, my father and my brothers sucide). You feel that your fathers smoking impaired your health – I get that. But a smoking ban wouldn’t change your exposure since it happened in the home.
    Smoking bans won’t change any of that.

    • Tony, Your comments mix fact and fiction. The Prohibition Era did lead to more crime but that has been overblown by the movie industry. Personal alcohol consumption was still permitted and overall deaths during Prohibition from alcoholism declined dramatically, according to what I’ve read.
      There hasn’t been a similar decline in smoking due to smoke-free air laws, however. Their impact has been mainly to get secondhand smoke out of the lives of nonsmokers by ensuring that workplaces and public places are smoke-free.
      The cigarette excise tax is evidently a much bigger predictor of smoking rates in any given state and Missouri now has the lowest in the nation at 17 cents a pack.
      Well-funded good smoking prevention campaigns can also reduce smoking rates.

  16. MoGASP, do I have the right to enter a restaurant and pour multi-liters of my metabolic waste products, poisons, and possibly even carcinogens out of my mouth with every breath? All human beings do so you know. Do I have the right to order a beverage containing the highly volatile Class A human carcinogen Ethyl Alcohol and then sit there and chuckle to myself as I watch you being forced to inhale it while knowing it make settle down on your juicy mucous membranes and ultimately cause a deadly cancer in you? It’s just a matter of degree, and you seem wedded to the concept of “no safe level” of carcinogen exposures — or at least, despite your efforts, have never turned up statements of such safe levels.

    I would also disagree that I, as a smoker, have no right to hire some smokers and open an establishment to which I would only invite smokers and any others who wanted to come in and enjoy the smoke fragrance. I’d even make it a private club for smoke likers and charge a membership fee.

    • Michael, We can’t make society completely safe for its citizens but just as government is now charged (rightly) with ensuring safe drinking water, so it’s appropriate to regulate secondhand smoke and eliminate it from people’s lives to the extent possible.

      As to your second suggestion – opening a private club which only smokers would be allowed to join – has been tried as a ploy to get around the law elsewhere, I believe, and it cannot be permitted. It’s one thing to invite smokers into your private home if they harm no-one else; it’s another thing if it’s a commercial enterprise because you’re then explicitly denying potential employment to those who don’t wish to be exposed to secondhand smoke. Preventing such discrimination is a major goal of the law. That’s in essence, what you’re proposing.

  17. MoGASP:
    I never stated that alcolism didn’t decline – quite frankly I’ve never read any estimates pro or con on that matter. My point is that the reason behind prohibition was to stop the use and abuse of alcohol and it was not effective. The public never accepted it and right or wrong didn’t follow it. The law was changed.

  18. MoGASP, Sorry about extending this, but it’s an important point. Such discrimination is indeed what I’m proposing, and I take my cue directly from the Antismokers at ASH and other such organizations that urge employers to hire only nonsmokers. Courts have found that such discrimination for some reason is perfectly acceptable, and it obviously can’t be one-way.

    As to places using the method as “a way of getting around the laws” — well, that was the intent of the law: that people who smoked and had private clubs or wanted to form private clubs with other smokers obviously should have the right to do so and to smoke in those clubs. I may be mistaken, but I thought at one point in the past you had expressed some agreement with that? Or do you feel that smokers should have no such right?

    😕
    Michael

    • Michael, If you’re correct about court decisions favoring nonsmokers in hiring I assume it’s because they are not posing a threat to the health and welfare of others. An addicted smoker is not part of a protected class, after all, even though the tobacco industry made such an argument unsuccessfully to Congress with respect to the Americans with Disabilities Act before it became law.

  19. Does the ADA only apply to some addicts and not others? Or are no addicts protected under it? It would be interesting to see the legal reasoning if they refused coverage for the “most addictive drug” while granting it to less addictive drugs.

    Nonsmokers are not a protected class either however when it comes to hiring. Smoking ban laws build in provisions protecting nonsmokers who make use of the ban laws, but they generally have no provisions that I’m aware of protecting nonsmokers as a class from general hiring discrimination.

    MoGASP, it’s late at night so you may not have meant it, but even as a Freudian slip it’s revealing when you state inversely that smokers as smokers ARE “posing a threat to the health and welfare of others” even when they are not smoking. There have been regimes in history who’ve felt that way about certain “types” of people, but fortunately they’re not currently common.

    – Michael

    • Michael, The ADA doesn’t apply to addicts at all. It does apply to a person with a serious breathing disability, such as an asthmatic, whose disability is caused or exacerbated by exposure to SHS.
      As for my alleged “Freudian slip,” all I was stating was that smokers pose a threat to the health and welfare of others when they smoke and expose others to SHS.
      That’s no different from saying that alcoholics pose a threat to others when they drive drunk on the public roads. Should alcoholics be a protected class under the ADA?!

      From the opening preamble of the ADA (on-line at http://www.ada.gov/cguide.htm#anchor62335):
      
“An individual with a disability is defined by the ADA as a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment. The ADA does not specifically name all of the impairments that are covered.”

  20. MoGASP, you made two statements:

    1) “all I was stating was that smokers pose a threat to the health and welfare of others when they smoke and expose others to SHS. That’s no different from saying that alcoholics pose a threat to others when they drive drunk on the public roads.”
    and
    2) “Michael, If you’re correct about court decisions favoring nonsmokers in hiring I assume it’s because they are not posing a threat to the health and welfare of others.”

    Martin, I was not talking about driving drunk or exposing people to smoke. I was talking about refusing to hire people because they were smokers or because they were drinkers. I’d thought you’d written somewhere that drinkers couldn’t be discriminated against on the basis of being drinkers, but I may have been wrong. I’d also thought you or someone had written that the ADA protected alcoholics, and again I may be wrong or it may have been on a different board. If I was mistaken I apologize.

    – Michael

    • “I’d thought you’d written somewhere that drinkers couldn’t be discriminated against on the basis of being drinkers, but I may have been wrong. I’d also thought you or someone had written that the ADA protected alcoholics, and again I may be wrong.”

      Michael, In response to your query above about my possible past pronouncements, neither statement rings a bell, frankly, and they don’t appear to be factually correct to me either. That’s just my initial reaction without having done any research though.

  21. The argument about the harm of second hand smoke will continue in
    the comments from both sides, with neither proponent able to
    convince the other side, however the public opinion has apparently
    shifted towards the advantages of a legislative solution, promoting
    smoke free air in public areas.

    A sort of interesting argument by the folks apposing legislation is
    that it denies business owners the right to make the decision in the
    best interests of the business. Freedom is an an argument that
    resonates with me, but in this example the horse has left the barn.
    We regulate establishments that serve food in many ways. Cleanliness,
    requiring bathroom facilities, monitoring employee health are a few of of the things that are regulated by law. Many, many years ago spittoons were banned in eating and drinking venues. Why? To protect public health. Second hand smoke is obviously an analogous purview.

    [mogasp character count, for ref. = 893]

  22. Michael J. McFadden

    Hans, I disagree about your perambulating equine. :>

    Food cleanliness/fire laws are accepted for 3 good reasons:

    1) The laws control hidden dangers that consumers cannot readily evaluate themselves.
    2) They control dangers that have very clear and totally indisuptable specific body counts, and those body counts occur almost immediately.
    &
    3) Virtually no one would choose to go to SalmonellaSushi’s Bar rather than a clean one or to FiretrapFrank’s Flophouse rather than a safe one: yet many choose smoking venues even if they don’t smoke because they do not consider it a serious enough possible risk to alter their behavior.

    In terms of spittoons and public health I believe that had to do almost completely with the spread of TB. Was it actually true however that TB was being widely spread through spittoons? Or was it just a fear-myth that resulted in action? (Similar in my view, though probably not yours, to the smoking bans.)

    Michael J. McFadden
    Author of “Dissecting Antismokers’ Brains”

    [mogasp: character count, for ref. = 991]

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