Editors note: Although disappointing to those who worked so hard, the effort resulted in a court action that clearly defined how this issue should be placed on a future ballot. Further, the effort resulted in a City of Mesquite financial study that determined that they had no way of knowing if a smoke free effort would benefit or hurt the economy. Therefore, another push following the court guideline and emphasizing the health savings, which were not included in the city study, will increase the chance of a future vote.
Actions of casino lobby force withdrawal of petition for healthy air protections in Mesquite
Mesquite citizens this November will not have the opportunity to decide whether or not to protect public health in our community by passing a comprehensive smokefree law.
The casino industry stands in voters’ way.
This summer, despite collecting nearly twice the number of citizen signatures required to place the issue before local voters, the ballot committee reluctantly withdrew its petition from consideration for the 2018 November election ballot.
The withdrawal was due to a complaint filed by Mesquite Gaming LLC and Rancho Mesquite Casino Inc. on June 26, which resulted in a preliminary injunction against the initiative. The injunction prevented the 2,271 signatures collected by Mesquite volunteers from being verified by the city.
In their last-minute challenge, lawyers for the casinos used arguments over legal language to challenge local citizens’ efforts to improve and protect public health in Mesquite. The challenge came long after the city had approved the petition for circulation, and just as citizen volunteers completed their work of gathering signatures from local Mesquite residents.
The gaming industry has deep pockets and, unfortunately, wields great power over local politics.
The citizen group, unlike the gaming industry, doesn’t have millions of dollars to fight this matter in court. So, we elected to put the initiative aside for now.
Advocates for public health will continue to highlight the very real health risks of secondhand smoke exposure.
The truth doesn’t change: Secondhand smoke causes death and disease. The U.S. Surgeon General has stated there is no safe level of exposure. Mesquite would save lives and money by going smokefree.
Additionally, a recent study by National Bureau of Economic Research showed that smokefree protections in Illinois have not impacted casino revenues in that state.
“Estimates from our study clearly indicated that the Illinois law that banned smoking in casinos has had no significant negative economic consequences for the casinos in terms of per-capita admissions or revenues,” said researcher Dr. John Tauras.
Our community may need to come to a reckoning: Is this a company town, or one in which local voters have the power to decide what is best for our community? In this case, the casino industry used blunt force to put an end to citizens’ right to choose.
– Mesquite Citizens for Clean Indoor Air
Mesquite Citizens for Clean Indoor Air · PO Box 2085, Mesquite, NV 89024, United States. You can also keep up with Mesquite Citizens for Clean Indoor Air on Facebook.