Sunday, June 20, 2010

Smoke gets in your eyes

I'm back from vacation. It's nice to be home, but getting paid not to work is a fine concept.

In this particular case, my wife and I visited Reno and Lake Tahoe. No, we didn't get a quicky divorce. We visited the site of the Donner Party camp, but didn't eat anything afterwards for a while in spite of the tales of cannibalism told at the visitors center at the state park near Truckee, Calif.

We also didn't do any gambling, even though casinos are everywhere in Nevada. Fill up the gas tank, hit the slot machine.

But there's a good reason why we weren't tempted, and I've never heard it discussed.


We walked through a casino in order to get to a Hard Rock Cafe for dinner, and we could have used gas masks. Granted, we're New Yorkers, who live in a state where smoking is banned in most bars and restaurants, so cigarette and cigar smoke don't enter our lungs too often. Still -- and this is speaking as someone who grew up with two parents who smoked -- it was pretty bad in there.

We asked one of the hostesses if there was a nonsmoking area anywhere, and we were told that only the poker tables were nonsmoking, and there was no barrier between that area and the rest of the casino. So even if you played poker, you were going to walk out with smelly clothes and a smelly body. At least the restaurant was smoke-free.

There must be some strong corrolation between gambling and smoking. I have all the respect in the world for the people who runs casinos, because they know what they are doing. So it must not be in their economic interest to set up separate, closed-off nonsmoking areas. Still, it is easy to wonder if such a place would attract some people who might not want to cough their way through a few dollars at the slot machines.

Besides, I would have to think that such places are begging for a class-action suit on behalf of casino workers, who are taking in more second-hand smoke in a night than I do in a year. It can't be a healthy work environment.

I know -- the rules are different in Nevada, where businesses and people don't want anyone telling them what to do. It's just easy to at least wonder if some of these places are leaving some chips on the table, so to speak.

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