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Kids, Smoking And Casinos Don't Mix

The Daily Campus, Storrs, Conn.McClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Oct. 25, 2007 - Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun are the largest and best-known tourist attractions in the state. They provide a service that the public demands and the state is able to pull in beneficial extra cash through taxes. As any casino executive will tell you, casinos are a form of adult entertainment, as gambling and drinking are involved. However, anyone who has visited any of the Connecticut casinos recently can attest to one small problem: there are hundreds of chilfred, from newborns to toddlers to elementary school students, that are walking around these gambling Meccas.

This is because parents are eager to visit the casinos and gamble, despite having no one to care for the children. The casinos have done everything they can to accommodate childrenby building arcades, 3-D amusement rides and other kid-friendly activities. It is in their best interest financially because by providing child-friendly activities, they will be able to have more patrons (parents) come to gamble. The idea of bringing one's children to the casino is troublesome at best. Is watching adult role-models lose their money and drink excessive amounts of alcohol really the best example of good behavior? Is leaving a seven-year-old unattended in the arcade for six hours really responsible parenting?

The situation is greatly complicated when one factors in the amount of smoking that occurs in casinos, and the public is aware of how harmful secondhand smoking is. Unfortunately, the law that bans smoking in Connecticut's restaurants and bars does not apply to the casinos. This means that the casino patrons are allowed to smoke everywhere, including restaurants where children eat, as well as hallways and other common areas that cannot be avoided by children and families. This is wholly unacceptable because it exposes children to toxins that they should not be breathing in. Why is it that casinos are allowed to get away with this, but restaurants are not?

The casinos, to their credit, do not allow smoking in the arcades where kids are playing. Unfortunately, this is where the casinos' protection of children's health ends. Kids are being unfairly exposed to ubiquitous cigarette and cigar smoke, which is about the last thing that young, healthy lungs need. Since the casinos are not going to turn away business in the form of parents or tell their other patrons they cannot smoke, the state must step up to the plate and make a decision. Either ban smoking in the parts of casinos like restaurants and hallways where children are walking around, or ban children from the entire casino. If adults want to make the decision to expose themselves to smoke, it is their right to do so, but children don't have any choice in the matter. They deserve better than that.

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To see more of The Daily Campus, which covers the University of Connecticut community, go to http://www.dailycampus.com/.

Copyright (c) 2007, The Daily Campus, Storrs, Conn.

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