This editorial appeared today in the State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL. It is a strong endorsement of continuing the present comprehensive smoke-free state law and not exempting casinos. It notes how the methodology used in the recently released study, “Exempting casinos from the Smoke-free Illinois Act will not bring patrons back: they never left” contrasts with that used by smoking proponents, namely: “Gambling revenue dropped in Illinois when indoor smoking was banned, therefore smoking is the cause.”
I sneezed and simultaneously my stock portfolio went down, so it’s my fault for sneezing! Well, not quite.
But the very first reader’sa comment is already dismissing the study as akin to “climate ‘experts’ using computer models to decide what the weather/climate will be instead of actually using historical data. They had to adjust the data to get to their predetermined conclusion.”
The State Journal-Register, Springfield, IL
The Associated Press – Posted Jun 30, 2011 @ 12:05 AM
The end of the spring legislative session marked one more milestone of survival for the Smoke-free Illinois Act, which withstood yet another challenge from the state’s gambling industry and its unwavering desire to live in the smoky past.
As strong proponents of the act, we feel obligated to remain vigilant about attempts to weaken it. This is especially true when big-money interests like the gambling lobby use spurious data to back their efforts.
So in the interest of getting ahead of the inevitable next round of attacks on the state’s indoor smoking ban from the Illinois casino crowd, we call to your attention a study published online this month in the journal Tobacco Control.
Appearing under the self-explanatory title “Exempting casinos from the Smoke-free Illinois Act will not bring patrons back: they never left,” the study compares state unemployment and home construction data with casino admission figures in Illinois, Iowa, Indiana and Missouri.
“When economic conditions were accounted for, casino admissions in Illinois did not decline significantly relative to neighbouring (sic) states, nor did admissions increase in neighbouring (sic) states,” the study says.
The study’s methodology is a far cry from the evidence we’ve heard from the pro-smoking side since the Illinois smoking ban went into effect in January 2008. That evidence generally goes something like this: Gambling revenue dropped in Illinois when indoor smoking was banned, therefore smoking is the cause. By contrast, this study takes into account different admission reporting procedures among the states, focuses strictly on border casinos and compares unemployment and housing construction data — two important economic indicators for gauging a recession — among the states.
“Illinois experienced a steeper recession than neighbouring (sic) states…,” the authors note.
We’re certain that this study will be greeted with eye-rolling by the pro-smoking side. It’s the work of researchers at Washington University in St. Louis and Roberts Wesleyan College in Rochester, N.Y., but it’s also funded in part by the St. Louis-based Missouri Group Against Smoking Pollution.
But the authors go to great lengths to define their data and justify their conclusion that the recession, which arrived a month ahead of the Illinois smoking ban in December 2007, is to blame for the state’s gambling downturn.
Being an academic study, it does not make a couple points we believe will be relevant as long as this debate survives.
First, that the Illinois casinos in the St. Louis metropolitan area are simply outclassed by the giant, new Lumiere Place complex in St. Louis.
Second, that when an Illinois casino builds something like Lumiere Place, as happened in December 2008 with Jumer’s Casino & Hotel in Rock Island, it will crush its across-the-river, smoke-friendly competition.
Third, and most important, that Illinois’ indoor smoking law is designed to protect the health of all employees and business patrons in the state. That includes nonsmoking casino employees and nonsmoking gamblers.