No smoking in the casino

Many opponents of Draconian anti-smoking laws argue that the controversy over where to allow smoking would be more fairly handled through the application of property rights rather than the threat of government force.

For instance, if a pub owner wants to cater to smokers, risking the business of those who find cigarette stench offensive, why, in a free society, should he be prevented from doing so?

Likewise, if a tavern owner sees an opportunity to attract customers by offering a smoke-free environment, he should be free to carry out his business plan.

Unfortunately, such a liberty-based approach failed to carry the day in 2006, when Nevada voters approved Draconian smoking restrictions for restaurants, convenience stores and bars that serve food.

But the ban didn’t apply to casino floors.

The absence of a law, however, doesn’t mean that gamblers who prefer not to inhale secondhand smoke don’t have options.

On Thursday, the new Fernley Nugget casino, located about 30 miles east of Reno, opened smoke free, becoming the second Nevada casino to take the step. Last year, Bill’s Lake Tahoe Casino in Stateline became the state’s first gambling palace to voluntarily ban smoking.

“Just by providing a smoke-free environment, I think it will make it inviting to those people who do not smoke cigarettes,” Scott Tate, Nugget general manager, told the Lahontan Valley News.

Maybe. Maybe not.

But the point is that the owners of the Fernley Nugget — and the counterparts at Bill’s Lake Tahoe Casino — didn’t need a state law to reach their decision about catering to nonsmokers. They came to their conclusion out of their own self interest.

And that’s further evidence that the market can — and does — work to reflect consumer concerns and preferences regarding cigarette use.

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