Safety and OSHA News

Should employers pay for workers’ second-hand smoke exposure?

secondhandsmoke

As states pass non-smoking laws, fewer service employees are exposed to customers’ second-hand smoke. But should companies be liable for their workers who still encounter it on the job? Some businesses are facing lawsuits.

Lawyers have filed two class-action lawsuits against Las Vegas casinos, alleging that the health of employees is being affected by second-hand smoke.

The latest lawsuit is against the Wynn Las Vegas. The first one was against Caesars Palace.

Caesars hasn’t filed its answer to the lawsuit. Wynn Las Vegas didn’t respond to a request for comment by the Las Vegas Sun.

The suit says the smoke is causing employees to suffer eye irritation, coughing, sore throat, sneezing, shortness of breath, dizziness, wheezing, tightness in the chest, asthma, headache, nausea, and ingestion of cancer-causing chemicals and toxins.

Lawyers for the casino workers claim some Las Vegas properties have taken measures to minimize second-hand smoke on their gaming floors. The Bellagio has a high-tech air filtration system. The Palazo built smoke-free corridors and half of its gaming area is non-smoking.

The suit also charges that Wynn employees risk losing their jobs if they complain about the second-hand smoke.

The suit seeks an order requiring Wynn “to take reasonable measures to protect its employees from second-hand smoke” and unspecified costs and attorney’s fees.

The suit against Caesars notes that the Palace and its sister properties, Bally’s and Paris, were part of a study released in May by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).

The study found that casino dealers had traces of a tobacco-specific carcinogen in their urine. The NIOSH study said, “The increase in [a known lung carcinogen] in the urine of most non-poker casino dealers at the end of their work shift demonstrates that non-poker casino dealers are exposed to a known carcinogen in the tobacco smoke at the casinos. The best means of eliminating workplace exposure … is to ban all smoking in the casinos.”

What do you think about the lawsuit? Should a court be able to order a business to go smoke-free? Let us know in the Comments Box below.

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  • Jason B

    Why don’t we just ban cigarettes all together? Everyone knows they are deadly and at the rate we are already banning where they can and can’t smoke, just take the damn things off the shelves and be done with it. Oh yeah, the lobbyists and their fat pockets are too loud in DC’s ears.

  • Paul

    If the people of Nevada want smoke free establishments, they can pass a law. These workers have to know what they are getting into when they get jobs with the casinos. I worked at a restaurant that allowed smoking. I didn’t like it, but I also didn’t whine about it. If the smoke causes you problems, don’t work there. I doubt that anyone who is sensitive to smoke just discovered that after getting jobs at a casino.

  • John V.

    I have been to the casinos mentioned above and yes there is a definite problem with second hand smoke I was at a table in Paris where the dealer asked a patron to put out his ciggarete because she is pregnant. Don’t leave out Freemont street the smoking in those casinos is out of hand I had an older lady at a black jack table at the four queens that was so bad the smoke got to me and I left the table I couldn’t breathe.My vote would be to outlaw ciggarete smoking in all the casinos for a trial period and see if their business falls off if it does than split the casinos in half one half for smokers and one half smoke free.

  • Gerald

    I am not a smoker, nver have been nor are any of my family including my wife, an RN. All that said, as anti-smoke as I might be, banning cigarettes is a slippery slope just as was Prohibition.
    We can say what we will about lobbyists but there are people who want to smoke just as there are those of us who may want caffeine, sugar, trans-fats, red meat, etc – where do we draw the line? I do agree NO one should have to be subject to second-hand smoke so why don’t the casion owners agree to make Vegas smoke-free? Because smokers will then go to Atlantic City, Reno, etc. The other solution is to have casino owners segregate smoking game areas & only place Emps there who are also smokers or whom sign a waiver. That may not work either if a) there are not enough Emps who smoke OR feel pressured to sign a waiver to keep a job. Bottom line why do so many kids start smoking each yr despite all the anti-smoking commercials, warnings, education, etc? A tough situation all the way around.

  • Dan Mueller

    The only probelm here is the casino’s need to make sure they rotate their employees from smoking to non-smoking work assignments on a daily rotation.
    The gambling industry is “in my opinion only” so much different than a manufacturing co. and restaurant. It relies on all different types of tourists to sustain it’s business.
    I belive the casino’s must make every effort to protect their employee’s from health issues; but the employee’s know exactly what type of business it is and have a choice and by going to work and staying on the job, you have said yes to knowing the risks.
    There are air pollutants, water pollutants, food pollutants that everyone daily accepts and willing lives with.
    If the casino’s have made sure areas are set aside for non-smokers, eating areas are smoke free and ventilation is to code; what more can they do.
    The old saying if you do not like it, do not buy it, eat or drink it, so on and so forth!
    In conclusion: smoking is bad (that is just common sense) and I hate being around it when eating or other times; but if I walk into a known smoking environment and do not like, I can walk out!

  • BobD

    At this day and age everyone knows the dangers of smoking as well as second hand smoke. Smokers must understand that non-smokers do not want to be subjected to others bad habits. If a person wants to smoke it is there business, but they must be prepared to be subjected to all the new laws and policies created to protect non-smokers.
    I think the lawsuit is justified if the employees are getting sick, why not?. People who want to smoke can simply go outside and come back in when they are done. If they do not want to lose there seat at a machine they shouldn’t smoke until they are done. An employee has every right to work in a healthy environment. It is not like they can just go outside when a person is smoking around them. Smokers should understand this as well as the employers. I quit smoking back in January and it was not easy to do, but I always was considerate of others around me and I am gratful to those who return the favor.
    And as for Jason’s comment, it would be easier to just stop the manufacture and distribution of cigarettes but what would be the next thing the government will ban and take away from us, it is our freedom to choose whether it is good or bad. Cars and other important means of transportation are bad for us all, should we ban them? no offense meant towards you.

  • gene mapp

    This whole thing is BULL in respect to what you drink, What you eat And also the other thigs you breath like from a catalitic converter on almost all cars. Did anyone think of why a converter smells?
    Maybe it’s the sulfuric acid from it . YA THINK

  • Martin

    In the country of free, we have to ban everything. Oxymoron? Why don’t we ban breathing in metropolitan areas? It would save millions of kids struggling with asthma!
    When one applies for a job, smoking policy is disclosed, his/her decision is to accept the job offer. We are happy to have hordes of underemployed attorneys/lawyers so they can save us from ourselves.
    As long as judges are accepting such a ridiculous lawsuits, nothing is going to save this country from stepping over a cliff to abyss.

  • Marty

    Employers shouldn’t be responsible… it isn’t as if they just suddenly started allowing smoking in their facilities. If the employees can’t handle it then quit and get another job. It is one thing to find out after years of employment that something was hazardous but going into a situation knowing smoking was allowed then complaining…. give it a rest.

  • Mervin A

    What ever happened to “This is a Free Country?” For workers and customers, there should be a freedom to choose how to live their lives. No worker should be forced to work in unhealthy enviroments. Why not hire smokers to work in smoking areas, and non-smokers to work in non-smoking areas? This seems like real common sense.

  • Gayle Harkey

    We can’t take the “damn things off the shelves” because, the last time I checked, this is still AMERICA. If you don’t like the cigerettes, stay away from them. Stop telling everybody else what to do with their lives!

  • http://lexmac.com Blackgold

    No, employers should not pay for these alleged problems. Beyond the casinos I cannot think of any industry that has not significantly reduced or banned smoking on their premises. Even in the casinos, as the article states, many of them have taken measures to reduce exposure. In my opinion, opening the door to these kinds of payments opens a Pandora’s Box nightmare. Of course, it would be a trial lawyer’s dream-come-true.

    As for banning cigarettes – not going to happen. We tried that approach with alcohol – how’d that work out? The 18th Amendment was in effect for 14 years and was repealed by the 21st Amendment in the year I was born. Nothing beneficial happened, except to make some folks very wealthy.

  • Jason F

    Let’s face it, you can’t protect everyone from everything. Casino’s especially, are places where people go to let loose and get a little wild. Smoking a few cigarettes is part of this. If someone applies for a job at a casino and doesn’t know that beforehand, then they are dumb. Casino’s can simply fire those that cannot handle their work environment OR the government can put their grubby little hands in someone else’s business and outlaw cigarettes in casinos. Now, those that smoke will find this offensive, refuse to visit a casino, and employees will be laid off due to less business. This is one thing that is wrong with the country…too many sissies and their sissy lawyers just trying to make a dishonest buck or two instead of working. If they don’t like being inside, in the air conditioning, quit! Find a job outside digging ditches in the open air! That’s what I do because I hate being inside more than I have to.

  • DEBORAH LEDBETTER

    I THINK THEY SHOULD BE RESPONSIABLE FOR SECOND HAND SMOKE IF THEY DON’T BAN IT COMPLETLY. IF NOT AT LEAST TAKE MEASURES TO HAVE A DESGINATED AREA FOR NON SMOKERS IF THEY PREFER NOT TO IN HAIL THE SMOKE BUT WE ALL KNOW HOW THAT GOES..I ENJOY CONCERTS AND IN SOME STATES THEY HAVNET BANNED IT SO EVERY ONE SUFFERS THAT DOS’NT SMOKES BECAUSE YOU CAN’T BREATH OR YOUR CLOTHES, BODY STINKS OF THE
    SMELL OF SMOKE ,LET ALONE POSSIBLE CANCER CAUSING SMOKE. I HATE THE SMELL AND THE DANGERS IVE STOP SOCIALIZING WITH SOME PEOPLE THAT SMOKE BECUASE OF IT SOME PEOPLE DON’T HAVE THE CONSIDERATION OF OTHERS AND BLOW IT RIGHT IN YOUR FACE FOR CUTENESS.
    I THINK EVERY ONE HAS RIGHT TO SMOKE OR NOT TO SMOKE AND BANNING THEM COMPLETLY WOULD NOT HELP.

  • Mark Z

    As a smoker, I do not feel that individuals should be subjected and/or forced to work in environments that cause harm to ones health. BUT, WHEN WE WERE ALL CHILDREN AND DIDN’T WANT TO PLAY WITH THE OTHER KIDS BECAUSE WE DIDN’T LIKE THEM, WHAT DID OUR PARENTS TELL US??? DON’T PLAY WITH THOSE KIDS THEN. I used to own a Micro-Brewery/Restaurant/Bar/Banquet Facility/Catering business, and no one was EVER FORCED to be a patron nor an employee. Everyone has a choice, but because so many things have been flushed away, it is easier to blame and act childish than to cope and adjust.

    We teach our children to understand that not everyone is the same and that just because they do something we don’t like, that does not make them bad people. We also teach them that we will not always like everyone or everything around us, and if that is the case, then they don’t have to go to or do anything that they don’t like.

    IF YOU DON’T LIKE PLACES THAT ALLOW SMOKING, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE……….NO ONE IS FORCING YOU……….WE ALL HAVE CHOICES, SOME ARE HARDER THAN OTHERS, BUT WE STILL ALL HAVE CHOICES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Randy McSorley

    Thirty years ago, in my workplace, asbestos was common. Chunks of the stuff could be found in our maintenance areas and in walking aisles. Today, thanks to agressive health and safety regulations, that hazard has been all but eliminated.

    It’s the same with second-hand smoke. The excuse that “the workers knew what they were getting into” is a poor excuse for a safety professional. Whining about laws and regulations that society imposes on itself for the betterment of the workforce is harmful and ill-informed.

    People’s “right” to smoke ends at the tip of my nose. It’s time to eliminate this hazard from our workplace.

  • Chad O

    To Randy: You always have the option to leave?

  • Linda

    I agree with Mark Z. I work in a metals machine shop where many metals are cut and grinded. Some of the chips and dust are hazardous. We are offered to wear face masks if we choose to. But NO ONE HAS TO WORK HERE. It’s a choice!
    Casino workers KNOW smoking is hazardous and chose to take the job anyway.
    Yes, I agree that casino owners should be more diligent about having better ventalation just to keep non smoking patrons in thier facility, but not worth a law suit.
    I, too, have a choice to work at a casino that is smoke filled or not. I, too, have the choice to go into a casino thatis smoke filled or not.

  • Jon

    I feel that there is plenty of evidence showing that second hand smoke is dangerous and that smoking should be banned in all workplaces. Those who say it will devastate the business’s need only to look at New York. The bars there claimed that it would devastate their business’s but low and behold guess what… after banning smoking, most of these businesses saw an increase in patronage due to all those people that would not go to the bars because of the smoke. Next point is… if there is no smoking in any business, then who are these businesses are going to lose business to… if you want to gamble, you will just need to smoke at a different time and place. Sounds pretty simple to me. Anyway just think what it could do for Al and his whole global warming scheme if we reduced say a couple hundred thousand fires burning each day.

  • greg

    I just visited Vegas this past weekend. As a non-smoker I found it very difficult to spend my money at the table or eat at restaurants in the casinos. This is a real problem and should be addressed. Workers should be guaranteed a safe work environment, as well as its patrons. Saying that workers “knew what they were getting into” is third world mentality. The “go somewhere else”, comment falls in the same category. If workplaces allow smoking, knowing full well the dangers of second hand smoke and the heath risks involved, this to me would be considered negligence and should be prepared for the sequences. No one is asking smokers not to smoke, just don’t subject others to your vice. I grew up without a father because he died of a smoking related illness, so yes I have a chip.

  • Scott

    Even though we live in a “FREE” society, we have laws and regulations we must follow. It is not legal for someone to take heroin, cocaine, marijuana or other addictive and harmful drugs. When is this country going to wake up to the FACT that cigarettes are another Harmful and addictive drug that just so happens to be legal. I smoked as a young child at the age of 11 and quit at the age of 13. I cannot stand the smell of tobacco or its carcinogenic smoke. Yes We live in a GREAT country where we have great freedoms, tobacco is just not a FREEDOM that we should embrace. Get rid of TOBACCO and then move onto other important issues, like our deficit, taxes and frivolous law suits.

    No, the employer should not be held financially responsible for a job where the employee knew the hazards. The employer should however work at a resolution for the problem.

  • Rick

    Hey, why don’t we just ban everything, and then we can all exist in utopia?

    No smoking, no gambling, no drinking, no running, no walking, no driving, no talking, We wouldn’t even be able to make babies anymore, because some women suffer pain when they give birth. Then and only then would everyone would be safe from all these evil activities. No one would get hurt, no one would be offended, and everyone would be just happy and safe and content. Well, that is until all of our food runs out because no one can garden due to the inherent risk in gardening, or supplying water, because it is just too dangerous to run those big drilling machines. Then there are things like electricity for our homes, it is just too dangerous to generate electricity, so we better stop. (someone might get hurt)

    So yeah, we need to shut down all of these evil employers immediately. Second hand smoke!! How dare they!!! Evil evil evil.

    P.S. for those of you educated in our government run schools, Utopia is: an imaginary place considered to be perfect or ideal (note the word imaginary) It’s called Heaven where I come from. (We’re not there yet)

  • Mark Z

    Thank you Linda. To everyone else that says the “people knew what they were getting into” and “go somewhere else” is third world mentality, I think you need to ask yourselves: “Do I go out to dinner more, to bars more, to other places more, now that they are non-smoking?” Again, NO ONE IS FORCING YOU TO GO WHERE SMOKING IS ALLOWED!! Also, what do you do when you go to a friends house for dinner and you think that their house is not what you like? Do you tell them they need to change? NO YOU DON’T!! You go there knowing what they are like and how they live. You cope and adjust and keep your mouth shut, or you just flat out don’t go.

    Think about these things. Smoking permissible facilities, ie–bars and restaurants, cater to the individuals who appreciate and enjoy the food, drinks, etc and mostly the ATMOSPHERE and what they can do while they are there. Think about what types of places you like to eat and/or drink at, do you tell everyone they need to change the music played also?

    Are you afraid of heights, are you afraid of water, do you have allergies?? If so, then fight to make sure all buildings are one level, dry up all the lakes and oceans, and live in a bubble.

    WHEN WILL IT STOP? Eventually, no one will be able to get out of bed for fear of catching something or being put in danger. Are you going to go places you don’t like? NOPE!! Simply put, You will always go places that you like and feel comfortable going to.

  • http://SafetyNewsAlert Gil V.

    With the technology that is available to the Casinos, they could substantially reduce their employee’s exposure to second hand smoke and continue to allow customers to smoke. There are ashtrays that draw in the smoke when the cigarette is in it and filters out the smoke, as well as smog filtration systems that remove most air containments from the air including second hand smoke. The changes maybe expensive, but their will pick up more individuals that choose to play in a smoke reduced environment or would accompany their significant other to the playing tables if they were not exposed to second hand smoke.

  • http://www.alphaexpressinc.com ReShonda

    I agree with Randy McSorley. As safety professionals, we must be mindful of keeping our workplaces safe. A person’s “right to smoke ends at the tip of my nose.” We know the health hazards of second-hand smoke, so we have a duty to look out for the betterment of the whole. Let the smoker destroy his/her health in the privacy of their own home or vehicle, but they should not be allowed to publicly and knowingly destroy the health of those around them.

  • Mark Z

    I apologize for putting up another note here, but what kinds of cars are you driving? Do all of you have solar energy? Do all of you eat everything organic and have little farms in your yards? I am sorry to say that as a safety specialist, I disagree with a lot of the changes.

    Alcohol + Smoking=Gambling, bars, etc, etc, etc

    “they should not be allowed to publicly and knowingly destroy the health of those around them” Are you serious??

    Do you every belch or pass gas?? Do you know what’s in those emissions?? I hope for the sake of everyone’s health, they ban cars, lawnmowers, vitamins (because making them takes energy as well as distributing them), do you use paper napkins vs cloth, do the women use feminine hygiene products (that don’t break down easily mind you)………………..I hope those of you taking that stance live in the woods and live of the “Fat of the Land.”

    Hell, Ban everything like Rick says. AMEN BROTHER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Randy McSorley

    OK, here’s a line of reasoning for those “Where will it end?” and “You can always quit” people:

    There’s a chemical compound called trichloroethylene. It’s legal to use, sweet-smelling and was used as an anesthetic by surgeons for many years, and as a food processing compound used to decaffinate coffee, for example. Today, it’s commonly found in electronics contact cleaner and as an industrial solvent.

    So, let’s say that I just love the stuff. I go into bars and restaurants and spray it around so that I can baske in it’s aromatic anesthesia. It’s America. It’s not illegal. If you ban trichloroethylene, where will it end? You can alway quit or leave if you don’t like it!

    Oh, did I mention that trichloroethylene promotes cardiac arrhythmias and is hepatotoxic. It’s a cause of fetal toxicity and there are strong concerns for its carcinogenic potential. It’s use in the food and pharmaceutical industries has been banned in most of the world. Stupid invasive government, limiting my right to enjoy trichloroethylene! People even have the audacity to object to it seeping into our groundwater!

    Should an employee be allowed to sue an employer who allows tons of trichloroethylene to be sprayed in their establishment? Should “the government” ban me from spraying this nasty stuff willy-nilly into people’s faces?

    See? It’s kind of silly when you swap out the word “tobacco,” isn’t it?

  • Miranda

    I am an ex-smoker and now that I no longer smoke, I find smoke to be very irritating to my nostrils and nauseating too. I have gone to the casino that has half the casino designated to smokers/non-smokers and escorted my child thru the lobbies of such hotels. My daugher virtually tried to hold her breath for the duration of time it took to get to the elevator to our room. You also have to pass through the smoking half of the casino to get to the non-smoking portion. Perhaps we will see hotels and casinos have a smoking level on another floor because I fail to see how they can filtrate the air so that no one has to breathe stinking cigarettes. Maybe make it the penthouse suite and far from the rest of us. Or how about twin towers and one building is for smokers to enjoy while they eat, drink, swim and play in their smoke filled rooms and casinos. Sounds like a fantasy to me but probably only the logical way. Oh, and advise employees upfront that smokers are preferred and encouraged.

  • greg

    I see we have come upon a sensitive topic. Second hand smoke affects everyone around, not just the one who is smoking. Most smokers I know will not smoke around their children, they understand how bad second hand smoke is. So why then is it ok to smoke around other people? The comments about “no running, no walking, no talking, no gambling, etc., are you kidding? The comment about living in a “free society”, I don’t think a “free society” allows you to harm your fellow man!

  • David

    If you dont like the smoke, dont go to where people smoke. If you dont like the smoke, dont get a job where people smoke.
    That being said, It is the responsibility of the employer to protect the employee from harm. Be that harm from second hand smoke, gasses or by-products caused by manufacturing processes, or forklift traffic.
    The employer is responsible for maintaining a safe work environment.

  • hazman

    I have this bad habit related to hazardous waste, I have to keep a spay bottle of benzene (a carcinogen) with me at all times and every 15 minutes or so, spray it all around my work area. I really like how it makes me feel. If anyone else breaths the vapors, or if they get caught in the overspray and get it all over their clothing and take it home to their young children, it is not my or my employers fault. The UPS man was in the wrong place at the wrong time yesterday and got hit twice. My clients all bring their own mix of chemicals in spray bottle when they come to my office. My biggest client has tetra-ethyl-death and dioxin in his bottle. I cant ask him to leave his bottle home just because some employee complains of the perceived health impact. My business depends on his money.

    I and my clients have the freedom to do this because this is America and because all of our employees knew we had hazardous chemicals in the workplace before they were hired. My firm does hazardous waste remediation. So what if the admin people did not expect to be exposed. Unfortunately we do not have a safety training or a hazard evaluation program to train the employees or a hazcom plan that addresses this item. No MSDS for benzene or tetra-ethyl-death either. Someone suggested that my office have a separate ventilation system, but that was too expensive and I like to walk around the office a lot any way.

    I think people being impacted by my spray bottle is no different than eating fatty food, sugary snacks, smelling car exhaust, etc. Don’t take away my freedom to spread benzene and create a “unique atmosphere” when I go to a bar or casino. I used to have a 2 liter a day habit, but have cut down to 1 liter because of all the taxes on my product. I also used to take my spray bottle on airplanes but they dont allow liquids anymore; I curse the dang freedom-taking government run airlines. I think the stewardesses really liked my spray bottles; they knew passengers like me would be on their planes.

  • Dan

    I agree with Randy and ReShonda, we, as safety professionals are responsible to assure a safe and healthful work environment for our employees. Some of you have responded as though you are not concerned with the safety and health of these employees. If I read your postings correctly I feel sorry for your own employees.

    Cigarettes contain over 40 known carcinogens. When are we going to understand this and respond accordingly to protect the non-smokers. If someone was working with asbestos in a casino, exposing the employees or gamblers to this hazard, I’m sure many of you who responded so poorly would be up in arms. You can’t have a double standard, it is our job is to provide a safe and healthy work environment and there should be no exceptions. If you don’t understand this, you are in the wrong profession.

    A lot has been said about if you don’t like it you don’t have to work in a casino. Last time I checked there are not a lot of other industries in Las Vegas to choose from so unless a casino has adopted a non-smoking policy it seems these peoples choices are somewhat limited. Also, what is the current national unemployment numbers? Many of these people are lucky to have a job and would do nothing to risk losing it.

  • BobD

    I think Hasman has other issues

  • BobD

    Well said Dan

  • Paul

    A lot of the comments here have moved far away from the original question – should a court order a private business to either disallow smoking on its property, or go to a sizeable expense to mitigate the extent of the smoke? According to the article there are casinos that have gone to great lengths to lessen the smoke that people get exposed to. In a free market they will pick up customers who prefer smoke free / lower smoke environments. If they do well enough (and other casinos lose enough business), then the others will follow suit and limit smoke in their facilities.

    That said, the court should keep its nose out of this. Let the people decide (through the State Legislature or City Counsel) if they want smoking to be legal in bars / casinos / restaurants, etc. CA has banned it in most public buildings – they still have functioning Indian casinos and bars. Workers should not apply somewhere and sue to get it changed when they should have known what they were getting into at the beginning. Courts are not supposed to write laws!

  • Tony

    Just have OSHA set standards of PPM that is acceptable. They do for the manufacturering industry as we have to have air quality samples taken every so often.

  • Mark Z

    I do agree that the employers are responsible for a safe working environment 100%. As a safety professional, it is my duty to my company and its employees, to maintain a safe working environment. On the other hand, when you apply to a job, lets say a butcher, you know that you will be dealing with and taking part in the killing of animals. You wouldn’t go to work there if you were a member of PETA or if you were a vegetarian.

    The judicial system needs to tell those people to pound sand and find something better to do with their time, than looking up frivilous lawsuits to gain some financial satisfaction. Will the money bring back anything to them? NO. Will those individuals take and use 100% of the monetary gains to help fight their cause? NO. Will $$$$ bring back anything lost? NO. If the judge orders payment, he/she should also tell them that 95% of what they “win” from the lawsuit must go into smoking cessation programs and into their own communities where smoking is not banned, to provide those institutions with ways of keeping the air clean. I would be willing to bet that they would drop the lawsuit then don’t you think? Once they find out that the 5% of the, let’s say $1,000,000 they would receive, only comes to $50,000 and after taxes they only get about $30,000, and after the lawyer and court fees are taken out, giving them about $500 to take home and losing all the time from work going to courts, meetings with lawyers, dorctor visits, medical testing, etc, etc, etc, what do you think they would do then?

    Look at the bigger picture—–Randy McSorley. And Randy, you need to realize that the smoking has been going on in bars, etc for a very long time. Smokers are not walking up to others and blowing smoke in their faces. They are smoking and YOU ARE WALKING INTO IT!!!! As I asked before, and now I am directing the question to you, “Do you do everything organic and solar and earth friendly?” Do you walk to work and ride your bike to the grocery store? Do you own a car that runs on gasoline? When you go on vacation, do you and your family walk there or do you ride bicycles? I am going out on a limb here, but I would have to say that you cannot answer these questions with a yes 100% of the time. Until you can, I don’t really think you can complain about what others are doing.

  • Jon

    Why should a smokers rights trump a non smoker’s right in any public gathering place?

    I believe that they should have a right to smoke in a private residence, smoking establishment or in the great outdoors but not where it will affect innocent bystanders such as employees and children.

    Those who think that these effected employees should just find a job somewhere else; maybe they ought to try to find a job in Vegas that is in a non smoking environment in this economy.

  • Rick

    Hey Randy, you could do that as long as you adhered to the limits imposed by OSHA. Check the MSDS.

    Airborne Exposure Limits:
    Trichloroethylene:
    -OSHA Permissible Exposure Limit (PEL):
    100 ppm (TWA), 200 ppm (Ceiling),
    300 ppm/5min/2hr (Max)

    Ventilation System:
    A system of local and/or general exhaust is recommended to keep employee exposures below the Airborne Exposure Limits. Local exhaust ventilation is generally preferred because it can control the emissions of the contaminant at its source, preventing dispersion of it into the general work area. Please refer to the ACGIH document, Industrial Ventilation, A Manual of Recommended Practices, most recent edition, for details.

    In 1998, the WHO published the largest study ever done on secondhand smoke and lung cancer. The study reported no statistically significant association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer. Oops.

    WHO claims, Second-hand smoke also causes and aggravates asthma and other breathing problems, particularly in children. It is also an important cause of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

    But researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examining data from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey reported in Januarys Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine there was no association between secondhand smoke and asthma among 5,400 children aged 4 to 16 years of age.

    Wake Forest University researchers reported SIDS may be related to a genetic deficiency. Reportedly, the absence of a particular muscle enzyme allows fatty acid products to accumulate, producing a toxic effect causing heart arrhythmias and respiratory arrest.

    Anti-smoking activists have yet to explain where were all the childhood asthma and SIDS cases in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s when smoking indoors was commonplace and adult smoking rates were much higher than they are now.

    I don’t smoke, nor do I like being in places where people smoke. I fully know the dangers of smoking, which is why I choose not to smoke. I agree with Tony, let OSHA set an acceptable PPM level and then if employers choose not to obey that rule, then and only then should a court get involved.

    Can anyone give us an example of a truly safe and healthful workplace? Also, how many deaths occur each year that are directly attributable to second hand smoke?

  • Marty

    Jon
    You stated “I believe that they should have a right to smoke in a private residence, smoking establishment or in the great outdoors but not where it will affect innocent bystanders such as employees and children.” Guess what, the Casinos are smoking establishments.. if they were non-smoking we wouldn’t be having this discussion, so the bystanders are not innocent. It is their choice to be there.
    Someone said try to find a job in Los Vegas that isn’t in a casino.. I believe the article stated that there are casinos with no smoking areas or with upgraded ventillation to combat the smoke problem. If they have a problem with the current situation then leave. The casino didn’t just start allowing smoking it was already there when they took the job so they were aware of the danger. If they had an aversion to it then they should not have taken the job. They chose to work in that environment the same as patrons chose to visit that environment.
    I am not a smoker so I avoid places that allow smoking but that is my choice. I do believe that there should be access to the same facilities to those of us that do not smoke but I do not condone taking away the rights of others to enforce my own. I also think that is idiotic on the part of restaurant and casino owners to place smoking areas so that non smokers have to walk through them to get to a non smoking area. It is much easier and more logical for a smoker to wait to light up until he/she gets to their location than it is for me to hold my breath to get to mine.

  • Randy McSorley

    Rick & Mark – your positions seem to be: “Perfection is impossible, therefore, there should be no reason not to add smoke to the list of hazards. And hey, it’s difficult to PROVE causality, therefore it is harmless. And if you can’t endure the smoke, then just quit!”

    Honestly, I’m astonished that a safety professional would take such a stance.

  • C L Greer

    Wow, this is deep today. I am a smoker and I am addicted, however, I follow the rules (as HR I should). I smoke before coming to work, at lunch and after work. I started smoking when I was 25 (to lose weight before the wedding, of course). I am seriously contemplating hypnosis. I am a realist and smokers are fast becoming the new minority. The rights of non smokers will prevail because of all the dangers associated with smoking. Smoking has not been out right banned because we are huge tax revenue generators. I live in PA and every time more money is needed, they tax the smokers. I do appreciate the concerns of non-smokers (I live with one). I would love nothing more to quit forever.

  • hazman

    Hey CL Greer:

    I commend your following the rules and wish you the best in your quitting endeavors. I have a coworker that follows the same steps. Smokes before work, at lunch, at home, or outside while in the field. However, his chair smells like smoke, the work truck that is shared by the employees that he frequently drives smells like smoke, the computer backpack that went on his last field trip smells like smoke.

    The levels of particulates or carcinogens that I and the other employees are exposed to are probably not sufficient to cause health effects, but that does not make it any less annoying.

    Smoking creates an impact on anything in the area that lasts a long time, and the impact gets transferred to other items that were never directly exposed to the smoke. Obviously, that is part of why nonsmokers complain. Even with your steps, you are impacting your coworkers. However the jerk down the hall with the bad temper may create a worse workplace impact.

    We have reprimanded employees with poor hygiene, are issues created by smokers smells much different?

  • Rick

    Randy, perfection is impossible. We will always fall short of perfection because we deal with imperfect people. That does not mean that we shouldn’t take reasonable steps to protect them, but there has to be a balance in which we can maintain employee safety and profitability. The only way to make any work place truly safe is to never open the doors.

    When did I say we should not add smoke to the list of hazards? What I said was let OSHA set an exposure limit for smoke. Then and only then, can you say to an employer that they need to take steps necessary to protect their workers to that level of exposure. So maybe you should be pressuring OSHA to set an exposure limit instead of bashing the employers.

    Unfortunately you like the majority who post here want to “SUE THE EMPLOYER” every time. That is always your first response. Sue the big bad evil employer. Make those capitalist pigs pay for having the nerve to start a business and hire people.

    Honestly, I am astonished at the lack of common sense that exists among the majority of safety professionals.

  • Jon

    Marty,

    Children being drug through a casino or an employee who works in a casino because it is the only way to make a living in certain towns are innocent victims. When the majority of people realize that smoking is harmful and choose not to partake of the poison but are unfortunate enough to live in a community where most of the employment opportunities are in smoking establishments, how do you expect them to make a living? Just because I really enjoy shooting doesn’t mean I can do it at the mall!

  • greg

    In regards to a previous post that stated “we will always fall short of perfection”, I guess his glass will always be half empty. I feel a better way of looking at it that we will always strive for perfection. The government has already made it clear that smoking in any quantity is detrimental to your heath and is a carcinogen. OHSA being part of the government is not going to go against the findings of the CDC and the Surgeon General, and for good reason. As for suing the employer, it’s the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe working environment. I don’t care for the idea that tax dollars would eventually be spent caring for people affected by second hand smoke so that the casino might make a few extra bucks. To me it’s easy to see what the majority of posts feel that smoking should not be allowed, it’s because they are right!

  • C L Greer

    Kids being dragged through a Casino is an issue of its own.

  • Rick

    Hey Greg, you’re wrong again. My glass is always half full. You can’t seem to accept the truth. The only perfect person to ever inhabit this earth was Jesus. He does not work for you or me, so we are stuck with imperfect people. (you and I included)

    I never said that we should not strive for perfection, (not sure where you read that in what I posted) I said that we should take all reasonable steps to protect our employees, but at some point there is nothing else that we can do. Accidents are going to happen and people are going to be exposed to dangers no matter how many safety nets you put in place. The only way to make any business truly safe is to never open the doors.

    Apparently I did not do a good enough job of explaining myself. I think that smoking in public is wrong and inconsiderate. OK? I also think that second hand smoke is not nearly as dangerous as has been stated, and I can’t find any information that can specifically pin deaths to second hand smoke.

    What I do think is that if it is that dangerous, then let OSHA set an exposure limit for it. You don’t seem to mind that they set exposure limits for other dangerous airborne hazards, why not this one?

    You say you don’t want your tax dollars being spent to care for people affected by second hand smoke, how do you feel about government run health care?

    Oh, I also am a Shriner, and about 10 years ago our facility went smokeless. No one left, and the people who did smoke just go outside. I don’t think it would hurt a business, and in fact I think it would help.

    I just don’t think suing employers is the right way to go!

  • Michelle

    I agree with Miranda. I can’t stand the smoke & in most areas, I will go to an area in Vegas that isn’t smoky. BUT, when checking into a hotel in Vegas, you can not get to the lobby to check in without going through smoky areas. It is impossible to avoid.

    Our whole state went smoke free recently. Everyone cried & complained how it would lower business. Yet, I see more cars now in those parking lots that weren’t there before. Many people are excited to go to places they refused to go to before due to the smoke.

  • http://Somethingsmellsfishy Senseless

    Jason, please provide a list of habits and vices and other activities that you enjoy, so I can check off the ones I don’t like and demand a law punishing your activities.

  • Jason

    Well I have a 2 year old daughter that I adore. We go for a lot of bike rides together (with helmets on of course). We take walks, play in the backyard, and go to parks. When I have time to indulge myself with free time away from my wife and daughter, I usually spend it playing some tennis, or doing some trails with my buds with our bikes. I have a 1918 farm house I’m restoring as well.

    Smoking affects other people, not just the people who make the decision to smoke. Maybe my post was a little pointed but I have no sympathy for smokers after burying both my father and mother in the last two years due to lung cancer. My battles with asthma are a constant reminder of what second hand smoke can do. Good luck with your law building.

  • http://Somethingsmellsfishy Senseless

    Jason, oh I can build quite a few laws. First, I would limit your bike’s speed to 3 miles per hour since speed leads to increased injury risk that could cost me money. I would also limit your hiking footwear to high top lugged sole boots that are environmentally friendly and protect your ankles. Tennis, of course would be limited to rubberized courts that are well lit at night with CF bulbs. And, I would ask child welfare to test and license your parenting skills to be sure your two year old is safe to engage in bike riding. I would also require that you bring your child to a qualified helmet fitting station where an inspection of helmet fit and safety standard construction is met. I could go on if you like.

    My point is that we should very carefully consider exerting control over others. Free choice is key but balance against the effects on others need very close scrutiny. The jury is still out on second hand some as the SOLE cause of cancers and other conditions. I can concur with control of smoking in public places where the owner of the establishment has made that choice. Government should be limited in control in only the most urgent situations. We are currently investing too much in the power of government to control people. The government that governs least, governs best.

  • Rich

    This smoking in public places is really interesting. It is true that in states such as Oregon and California and cities like NY where smoking in public facilities is banned somehow still have bars and restaurants. The issue with the casinos is that their employees are subjected to constant second hand smoke, and with reasonable expense such as the Bellagio and Palazzo have done can minimize or eliminate this issue. When a company spends billions to build a casino the added expense is minimal at best. I guarentee casinos spend more on comps for high rollers than retrofitting air systems would cost.
    I’m always amused by the “A Free America” group, they only want freedom from government regulation for the things they do. Keep the government out of my life unless its to regulate marijuana, heroin, abortion, sagging pants, cursing in public, pornography, gay lifestyles, rap music, and myriad other social issues that they feel the government should be regulating because they are the ruin of their false “50′s” ideal. very few people live in Leave it to Beaver households.

  • http://Somethingsmellsfishy Senseless

    Rich, your cynical amusement is comical. You must be from the “Not so Free America” crowd, one that can’t wait for a new regulation to enforce and educate the masses in this new Orwellian utopia where stoners drive commercial vehicles without worry, heroin and for that matter all manner and type of drugs are now OTC, abortion and euthanasia are personal choices sanctioned and encouraged by government boards. I don’t see where limiting government control over over our lives makes anyone a 50s idealist, except to the extent that there were far less government intrusions and social norms and mores were more the role of one’s peers rather than one’s overseers. Open mindedness is admirable as long as one knows where to draw a line. I must assume you can draw lines at social issues that make you blanch, such as adult child marriage, gay marriages involving fathers and sons, abortion of children by neighborhood committee, et cetera.

    In this instance, employees are free to remove themselves from the environment by moving to another job. Restaurant owners would be free to choose between allowing smoking or banning smoking and suffer the consequences of loss of business from non smokers. Leaving these types of choices up to individuals rather than government is a concept that is not a 50s ideal but one that has served this nation well for over 200 years.

  • Jerseyjack

    No one should be forced to work in an ashtray.

  • Hazman

    I had a job in college cleaning carpets. Mostly empty apartments, but also some homes and restaurants. During my job interview it was not mentioned that I would be subjected to second hand smoke. When we cleaned the all night truck stop restaurants, and some national 24-hour chains usually at night when they were slow, (but had the late-night smoking crowd), they would be filled with smoke. After cleaning those sites, I would go home with a headache and a cough, not to mention reeking of smoke. My employer could not stop the smoking, it was our clients choice to allow it. He wanted the business and it was part of my job to suck it up (literally) and get the job done. My state ultimately passed an indoor clean air act and eliminated that problem. Amazingly, all those restaurants stayed in business.

    I also remember as a child, going to the doctors office in the 60s, and having the waiting room filled with smoke and the guy next to me filling up the ashtray as he chain smoked. I am glad those days are gone.

    All those that have thrown out the “what about alcohol, transfat, etc. slippery slope argument” are using false logic. What some one eats or drinks does not cause an adverse health effect to the person sitting next to them or working around them. Smoking does. It is a clear difference. (yeah, yeah, you can talk about health care costs and drunk driving, but that is a different topic and argument).

    I am all for government staying our of our lives/business, but when people, employers, coworkers are doing things that are knowingly causing adverse impacts to your health, then I see a government role in addressing the situation.

    With the companies liability in mind, what asbestos removal company or hazmat company would allow a worker to go into a contaminated environment without the proper PPE or engineering controls? The liability drives the safety protocol as much or more than the regulations in smart companies. But casino dealers, servers, and those contracted carpet cleaners are expected to have a similar exposure to a known carcinogen without any PPE, training, engineering controls, health monitoring, etc. In the casino case, we can let the liability drive the protocols without the government (besides the civil courts) getting involved. Isn’t that what happened when the Stewardesses got smoking banned on airplanes? The government just followed up to protect the rest of us after the courts decided the airlines were liable and that second hand smoke caused heath problems. Imagine a class action suite by all the passengers that were exposed to smoke on airplanes.

    The law requires employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees, and training, PPE, etc to mitigate identified hazards. Period.

    If they are not complying with that law, they belong in court.

  • Richard

    I love these responses, I would hazard a guess that not one of these people works in an office where “they allow smoking” but by god its my right to go to a casino, gamble, drink, carouse and SMOKE…

  • Richard

    A casino is no different than a store, office, public building. And surprisingly in states where smoking has been banned in “all Public places, including bars, restaurants, nite clubs etc contrary to all the screaming about how business’s will all fold up because only smokers go to these places…
    hmm they are still in business, business is off but guess what… its off in every state whether they banned smoking or not.
    I always love how people jump on “if you dont like it quit and get another job”.
    what cave arre you living in… there are not enough jobs for the entry level because all the unemployeed middle managers have taken them.
    We have many associates who have had doctors tell them that they should quit their job when they get an on the job injury, like unskilled employees have alot of options.