The Mesquite Mayor and the City Council have been asked to pass an ordinance banning smoking in the casinos, bars and smoke shops. Smoking is already banned in all other public buildings.
Those opposing such an ordinance offer a series of arguments from a violation of a person's right to smoke, to the potential loss of business in local casinos and bars. Under scrutiny, these arguments fall apart.
Certainly people can smoke in the privacy of their own home or outdoors. But there is no constitutional right to smoke. In simple terms, one does not have the right to endanger another's health with first, second, or third hand tobacco smoke.
Further advances in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which took effect in 1992 under George W. Bush, protects both employees and customers, with smoke-related diseases, from discrimination in businesses with fifteen or more employees (Title I). In the very near
future this will become a significant factor in ending smoking in bars and casinos.
Smoking-related disease is expensive but businesses that allow smoking shift the cost burden to the public in a practice called “Cost-Shifting.”
Cost-shifting exists when smoke-filled establishments shift the actual health costs of smoking related diseases to the public, who are required to pay more for health insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid, than would be otherwise expected.
According to the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, the cost of caring for people with health problems caused by cigarette smoking, counting all sources of medical payments, was about $96 billion per year.
Dr. Robert M. Shepard, MD, during his recent visit to Mesquite, pointed to studies showing that smoking related heart diseases could be reduced by an average of 20 percent in communities that pass smoke-free ordinances.
Dr. Shepard said it best, “It's such a simple problem to correct. Pass an ordinance and ban smoking."