A short piece appears on page 5 of today’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch by reporter Phil Sutin about the efforts of Harrah’s Casino to extend its present gaming floor smoking exemption in the law going into effect January 2, 2011, to a couple of its bars.
Harrah’s is like the 800 pound gorilla, throwing its weight about and getting whatever it wants from St. Louis County Council.
Their behavior is reminiscent of Big Tobacco’s: actual or perceived profits first over both its customers, and worse, its employees.
Those working in the gaming industry are now among the most exposed when it comes to secondhand smoke. Instead of considering how to extend protections for those employees, the council is moving to relax them further.
Bill sponsor Councilwoman Kathleen Burkett is quoted as saying she opposes the smoking ban because it has exemptions, and then proceeds to add another exemption!St. Louis County Council tentatively agrees to exempt two casino lounges from smoking ban
By PHIL SUTIN • email@example.com > 314-863-2812 | (8) Comments | Posted: Wednesday, December 15, 2010 12:00 am
CLAYTON • The St. Louis County Council on Tuesday tentatively agreed to give two lounges in Harrah’s casino in Maryland Heights an exemption from the county’s smoking ban that takes effect Jan. 2.
Harrah’s serves only drinks in its VooDoo Lounge and a piano bar. They would qualify for an exemption, but the Missouri Gaming Commission, not the county, licenses alcohol sales in the casino. The ban currently says only bars licensed by the county can get an exemption. The bill adds bars licensed by the Gaming Commission to the section of the ban that lists those that qualify for exemptions.
The vote on the bill was 4-3. A final vote will be held at a later date. Council members Hazel Erby, D-University City; Kathleen Kelly Burkett, D-Overland; Mike O’Mara, D-Florissant, and Steve Stenger, D-south St. Louis County, favored it. Council Chairwoman Barbara Fraser, D-University City, and council members Colleen Wasinger, R-Town and Country, and Greg Quinn, R-Ballwin, opposed it.
Burkett, who sponsored the bill at Harrah’s request, called it a minor change. She said she opposes the smoking ban because it has exemptions.
Fraser, the sponsor of the smoking ban, said the casino should have understood that the ban would only allow smoking on the casino floor, not the lounges. Burkett’s bill, she said, is “a step in the wrong direction.”