By Cindi Delaney
Candidate for Mesquite City Council
Wouldn’t it be wonderful to walk into local casinos without the haze and smell of tobacco in the air?
Smoking is an awful habit and it has become more and more socially unacceptable. I wish no one smoked. I wish none of my friends or family endangered their health by smoking.
We all know smoking is bad for us and that second hand smoke is bad for us.
I won’t dispute the obvious facts.
The Smoke Free Mesquite and Clean Indoor Air proponents have many compelling arguments to support an ordinance banning smoking from all indoor places including bars and casinos.
Let’s take a look at the larger picture.
I believe in personal freedom and personal responsibility. I believe it is a personal choice to walk into a bar or casino, and that each person is responsible for their choices.
As was pointed out to me by the owner of a small local bar/casino, “My license is a privileged license. I have to maintain that privilege. People know when they walk in the door there might be smoke in the air. They make a choice.”
I don’t believe it’s my job as a city council member to legislate public health. If that were true we would shut down all fast food restaurants, limit the amount of candy or sugar stores could sell and require all citizens to exercise.
Remember when Chris Christie tried to ban the extra large soft drinks?
Casino and bar owners know what works for their businesses and I don’t believe we should be telling them how to run their business. They have spent considerable amounts of money to research the smoking issue and have decided to allow smoking in their establishments. Their business, their call. By the way most casino owners in Mesquite don’t smoke and don’t like smoking. It’s a business decision.
I’ve come to the conclusion . . .
We live in Mesquite, NV a small city of about 19,000 people. The hospitality industry is the single largest employer in Mesquite.
The hospitality industry makes the largest contribution to our tax base through gaming and room tax. This filters back to Mesquite.
Our economy is directly linked to the hospitality industry in many ways.
One example of the many to be found while researching the economic impact of smoking bans on communities with casinos and bars is this: According to the Illinois Casino Gaming Association (an industry organization), the smoking ban was responsible for a 19 percent decline in revenue during its first year.
Several other areas including New Orleans and Colorado site anywhere from 8% to 20% decline in revenue in the first year of the ban. They also say that it took approximately two years to recover and normalize.
Those are areas that are not heavily dependent on the hospitality industry. They have much larger populations and diversity in industry.
In Mesquite we have over 2,000 citizens that depend on their jobs in the hospitality industry to pay their bills and support their families.
Casinos are in business to make money, as they should be. If we suffered even a ten percent drop in revenue what would happen?
There would be layoffs.
At this point we are only considering the effect this action would have on hospitality workers. The effects would be far reaching, trickling down to all of our businesses.
Do you remember when the Oasis Casino/Hotel closed, causing several hundred families to lose their jobs and forcing them to move to other areas?
The local economy took a devastating blow.
So let’s look at just the basic numbers. Casinos/Bars suffer a ten percent drop in revenue. To stay alive and profitable they laid off ten percent of their workforce.
Which 200 of your friends and neighbors are you willing to tell they no longer have jobs?
I cannot sponsor or support an ordinance that would be likely to cause many Mesquite residents to become unemployed.