Two Quad-City casinos seem poised for 2016 grand openings of land-based operations. Our question for them today: Which will be smoke-free?
Iowa is emerging as the outlier when it comes to smoking in casinos. Illinois banned it long ago. New Orleans extended its smoking ban to casinos this week.
All 27 gaming establishments in Florida ban smoking. So do the 89 in California and the 126 in Montana.
As casinos become as commonplace as movie theaters in some locations, many states are holding them to the same standard as all other businesses.
But not Iowa.
Iowa lawmakers still exempt the state’s 19 casinos from the smoking ban actively enforced in tens of thousands of restaurants, bars, shops and offices. Light up in a tavern and get tossed out. Owners who are caught allowing smoking aren’t just ticketed and fined. Another arm of state government can suspend their liquor license.
So Iowa lawmakers take their state’s smoking ban very seriously for everyone but casinos.
Clearly, lawmakers are comfortable with the hypocrisy.
So we look to the operators of land-based Rhythm City and Isle of Capri casinos.
If Iowa health department stats from 2012 remain accurate, about 25 percent of adult men and about 15 percent of women still smoke. That leaves 75 percent of men and 85 percent of women available as customers and employees for these casinos.
In every other Iowa workplace, these customers and employees are protected from daylong exposure to cancer-causing secondhand smoke. But not in casinos.
Rock Island’s Jumer’s Casino and Hotel remains smoke-free under Illinois law. Revenue figures routinely trump either of the Iowa Quad-City casinos.
So which one will make the seemingly obvious choice to respect their majority of non-smoking customers and employees? Or put conversely, which one will continue to endanger their majority of customers and employees who adhere to advice from their doctors and insurers?
We hope it’s both.