Mesquite, NV. On Tuesday (February 27) the Mesquite Mayor and City Council were once again reminded that smoke-free laws lead to a reduction in hospitalizations and costs for a range of diseases.
Maria Azzarelli, a supervisor for the Southern Nevada Health District, told the Mayor and Council that researchers studied 5,619,569 Emergency Department (ED) visits in Mesquite over five-years. Their work suggested millions of dollars in savings if the City Council passed a local smoke-free-ordnance.
The study further concluded relative risk reductions due to such an ordinance. Including:
- Coronary events by 16%
- Cerebrovascular events by 16%
- Respiratory events by 24%
Ms. Azzarelli pointed out that the reductions were probably understated since a large majority of Mesquite residents go to Utah for their healthcare
Ms. Azzarelli’s comments were just the latest in warnings to the Mayor and City Council that a smoke-free ordinance would reduce health risks and save money for the community.
In October 2012, Ferdinand Toval told the City Council that they had a responsibility to pass laws that protect public health and safety,
Toval, the Mesquite community organizer for the American Lung Association, told the city council that the local organization collected 3,427 signature cards supporting a smoke-free city-wide ordinance. Of those 2,360 were residents, while 1,067 were visitors supporting the cause. Only, 3,203 people voted in the last general election, he added.
In addition, he said, 72 businesses have given endorsements but there were many more businesses who supported the cause. But they were afraid to sign the cards out of fear of repercussions from the local casinos.
Fear of casino repercussions is a real issue in Mesquite because owners think, incorrectly, that they will lose revenue.
A poll, conducted by the University of Nevada’s Cannon Survey Center, refute those fears. The poll shows that 44.7 % of the respondents were either more likely or much more likely to visit a Mesquite smoke-free casino while 44.2 % said a smoke-free casino would not influence their likelihood of visitation.
Toval pointed out that the survey indicates casinos would see a net gain of about 33 % of customers who would be more likely to visit casinos in Mesquite.
“Being smoke-free is not the reasons casinos lose revenue,” Toval argued, pointing to a study of two Midwest casinos in competition 1.3 miles apart which a local casino owner had used to justify his opposition to a smoke-free casino.
“We looked at those casinos and found that the smoke-free casino actually outpaced the one that allowed smoking,” he said.
“Marketing Mesquite as a smoke-free community would increase business while reducing the ill effects of smoking,” Toval said.
Toval reminded the council and the audience that everyone has the right to breathe clean air.
Long-time City Councilmen Geno Withelder and Richard Green are both up for re-election this year along with David Ballweg. Watch what they do not what they say.