Public Health

Economic Anxiety Leads to Smoking, Especially in Casinos

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Atlantic City's ban on smoking in casinos takes effect this week, but only for a week. "In a last-minute change," the Press of Atlantic City reports, the city council "voted 5-4 on Wednesday to delay the smoking ban for at least a year to give the casino industry time to recover from the nation's economic woes. The final vote on that delay won't come, however, until the next regularly scheduled council meeting [on] Oct. 22." A.P. says the move was "due to the economic crisis and fear of massive casino losses and layoffs." But it reports that "four casinos owned by Harrah's Entertainment say they will go smoke-free on the gambling floor anyway on Wednesday, and stay that way, offering patrons ventilated smoking lounges." In the absence of government mandates, it seems, consumers get a diversity of options. But apparently this is the sort of thing that can be allowed only during economic crises.

[Thanks to an unidentified reader for the tip.]

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  1. In the absence of government mandates, it seems, consumers get a diversity of options.

    Oh, was Harrod’s doing this before the public ban was contemplated? Why, no, they weren’t.

    That government can cause or amplify social trends, rather than just codifying ones that have already taken over, should be understood forty-odd years after Brown v. Board and the Civil Rights Act.

  2. To add a little bit more of madness to this issue consider this:

    I can go to Atlantic City and smoke a cigarette while playing games of chance, such as cards, dice games, slots, etc. However, I cannot wager on the outcomes of certain sporting events in these same places due to a federal law. If I want to wager on a horse race, I can go to the Meadowlands and bet on horse races thru out the country. I cannot smoke cigarettes in there and I cannot bet on the outcome of events involving human vs. other humans (nor can I bet on the game sof chance described above). If I want to do that I have to find some shady guy who may break my fingers if I don’t pay up right away.
    It is illegal for me to go to a bar in NJ and smoke cigarettes due to a law passed by the state legislature. But, I can go to the bar and watch the games on TV that I’m not allowed to bet on, even though there are places in the state for me to smoke cigarettes in and gamble my money on certain, pre-approved activities.

  3. apparently this is the sort of thing that can be allowed only during economic crises

    Well, it’s only because we’re so rich that we’re nannied so much. Besides, what crisis? The Dow is up 900 points–obviously, everything’s A-OK again.

  4. AC sucks now; a smoking ban will just make it suck more.

  5. Dammit. Joe is right. Harrah’s is simply utilizing the capital investment that was mandated by the government.

    It will be interesting to see the relative use of the smoking versus nonsmoking tables.

  6. I hadn’t thought of the capital investment angle; I was just thinking about people internalizing norms.

    That’s a good point, bubba.

  7. Interesting. Around here, the smoking nannies claim that the economic impact of smoking bans on bars is negligible. It’s one of their prime arguments in favor of such a ban.

    Is this an accidental admission from government that the economic impact to bars and similar establishments is not only palpable, but significant?

  8. That is funny. Friday, I told my wife I was investing everything we have in big tobacco. Simple pleasures sell big when nobody has any real money.

  9. joe | October 13, 2008, 5:24pm | #
    In the absence of government mandates, it seems, consumers get a diversity of options.

    Oh, was Harrod’s doing this before the public ban was contemplated? Why, no, they weren’t.

    That government can cause or amplify social trends, rather than just codifying ones that have already taken over, should be understood forty-odd years after Brown v. Board and the Civil Rights Act.

    Not to mention sixty-odd years after the Holocaust.

  10. I’m sure they’ll ban drinking there soon.

    I mean, really. WTF? Can’t smoke in a casino??? How much more prissy can this country get?

  11. Not to mention sixty-odd years after the Holocaust.

    What Holocaust?

  12. That government can cause or amplify social trends, rather than just codifying ones that have already taken over, should be understood forty-odd years after Brown v. Board and the Civil Rights Act.

    I’d prefer that the marketplace sort out which social trends are beneficial and which ones are just fads, without men with guns putting their hands on the scales.

    Remember when we were all going to be living in lunar colonies, eating vitamin pills for dinner, using the metric system exclusively and doing math in base 2? Good thing the govt didn’t “amplify” those trends, don’t you think?

  13. Russia was already moving toward large farms and industrialization during the 1910s. Stalin is just amplifying existing trends by herding farmers into agricultural collectives.

  14. gospazha | October 13, 2008, 6:14pm | #
    Interesting. Around here, the smoking nannies claim that the economic impact of smoking bans on bars is negligible. It’s one of their prime arguments in favor of such a ban.

    Is this an accidental admission from government that the economic impact to bars and similar establishments is not only palpable, but significant?

    There is a difference between politicians predicting results, and the science that looks at the results. So far as I can tell from the data, the impact is negligible to positive. I am willing to look at other numbers people have.

    Thus, it is not surprising that among the 97 economic impact studies of smokefree laws reviewed by Scollo et al.,10 studies that used subjective measures of outcome (such as telephone reported levels of business) were four times more likely to conclude that there was a negative economic effect than studies that used objective measures of impact (such as tax receipts reported to the government) (P = 0.007).

    http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/36/1/155

    see also,
    http://www.jphmp.com/pt/re/jphmp/abstract.00124784-200711000-00015.htm;jsessionid=LzlXbHGhcxBLJ0R5pg2FLGj1Jhjc8CJ2zGxp1JMGCVXSZR8L4J8L!-966548442!181195628!8091!-1

  15. If the impact on a business is truly negligible to positive, why can’t we count on businesses doing this voluntarily?

  16. “Is this an accidental admission from government that the economic impact to bars and similar establishments is not only palpable, but significant?”

    Yes, but they’ll deny it means what it obviously means. In related news is the Obama campaign offering tax credits for “job creating” businesses.

  17. No cunnivore.If business was left to its own desires they would stay up way past their bedtime watching dirty violent movies and only eat ice cream and cake for supper.Its for the businesses……

  18. Hey “we” nationalized a portion of 9 banks today. It wasn’t voluntary either.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=alDuNJQDu5KA&refer=home

    This is interesting

  19. “That government can cause or amplify social trends…”

    Of course, the basic dispute is whether or not the government has any legitimate business mandating social trends.

  20. In effect, putting a gun to someone’s head, and ordering them to install non-smoking areas in a casino, and then after that money for the renovations has taken place saying, “Nah, we didn’t mean it — well, maybe next year we’ll force you to do this — maybe”, and then the business sucking it up and making the best of the sunk costs for the renovations — well, that isn’t a pre-existing social trend. It is coercion. Unless the trend you’re referring to the increase over time of gov’t coercion.

    It takes a liberal, or someone not versed in economics, to think that gov’t edicts forcing a change in behavior like this are benign.

  21. “But apparently this is the sort of thing that can be allowed only during economic crises.”

    obviously another example of disaster capitalism.

  22. The whole fucking economy is a casino, so light up.

  23. The Hard Rock casino in Ft. Lauderdale has a non-smoking section, apparently put in voluntarily. My brother brought me there last time I was in town, and due to an illness that affects my lungs, I stayed in there. Given that the rest of the casino is a gray haze, I think it’s safe to say a lot of gamblers smoke.

    While I don’t believe companies should be forced to provide non-smoking areas, I have a hard time feel any sorrow for the rent-seeking dickheads in the US gaming industry.

  24. OK Lefiti, that was pretty good.

  25. Thanks, chunnivore. I don’t get much respect in the Temple of Market Fundamentalism. At least it’s no mega-church.

  26. Unsafe working conditions, Lung Cancer, your
    DEAD!

  27. AC sucks now; a smoking ban will just make it suck more.

    But it won’t smell as bad. This is change we can believe in.

  28. I was actually hoping for a return trip to AC post-ban because I don’t like leaving the craps table smelling like an ashtray – those non-smoking areas 5 feet away from the smoking areas are not optimal. So, to the extent that Jersey wants more business, it’s losing mine.

    Not an argument about the justice of the ban, just my two cents.

  29. Unsafe working conditions, Lung Cancer, your
    DEAD!

    My dead? In a casino? Impossible. When I hide the bodies, they stay hidden. Capice?

  30. Man, you point out the flaw in someone’s logic, and everyone starts yammering about Hitler, Stalin, and guns stuck in people’s heads.

    I’ll take the utter lack of an on-topic response as an acknowledgement that there really isn’t much of a counter-argument.

    Seriously, this is one of the basic talking points of libertarianism – the same one you’ve been throwing out since MLK was leading marches, “The government can’t change people’s hearts,” – and not one of you can try to defend it?

    Pathetic. Maybe Josef Stalin is holding a gun to your head.

    And also too, the Holocaust.

  31. People need their bread and circuses; especially when the economy goes to shit.

  32. Unsafe working conditions, Lung Cancer, your
    DEAD!

    My dead? In a casino? Impossible. When I hide the bodies, they stay hidden. Capice?

    +10

  33. I was in DC recently, and I have to admit…the smoking ban kicks ass. I was actually able to go into bars and breathe, meaning I stayed and bought more drinks, and didn’t need to take a shower when I left. Now, I wish bars would just do this on their own, but since they stand to make a few bucks from selling cancer sticks, they probably won’t.

  34. Now, I wish bars would just do this on their own, but since they stand to make a few bucks from selling cancer sticks, they probably won’t.

    Right, because all your preferences should be catered to and no one else’s. God forbid you might have to choose between smoking and non-smoking bars. Does anyone remember what being an American is supposed to mean anymore?

  35. I’ll take the utter lack of an on-topic response as an acknowledgement that there really isn’t much of a counter-argument.

    There isn’t much of an argument.

    When it’s your own bar or casino, you can decide who, if anyone, can smoke inside of it. People are free not to come into it if they find the decision that you made, as a business owner, objectionable.

    Man, you point out the flaw in someone’s logic, and everyone starts yammering about Hitler, Stalin, and guns stuck in people’s heads.

    You compare anti-smoking laws to school desegregation and someone else has a flaw in their logic? Funny, that.

  36. Hey “we” nationalized a portion of 9 banks today. It wasn’t voluntary either. —SIV

    Holy shit on a stick!! This quote, from the piece:

    “They’ve decided they need to do something drastic and this is drastic,” said Gerard Cassidy, a bank analyst at RBC Capital Markets in Portland, Maine.

    None of banks getting government money was given a choice about it, said one of the people familiar with the plans. All of the banks involved will have to submit to compensation restrictions, said the person.

  37. They’ve been forcing me to give money for the last 50 years, now they’re forcing people to take it?

  38. It’s good to see that some of the casinos have decided to institute a smoking ban. Being a non-smoker, I’m more inclined to go to a land-based casino when their is no smoking involved.

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