Smokers still puffing

Feb 5, 2007 4:19 AM

Some of the casinos in Colorado fear a smoking ban may soon blanket their gaming floors.

So far, smoking still is allowed in Nevada casinos. But in Atlantic City, lighting up soon could be illegal.

"There is no safe level of second-hand smoke," said Karen Blumenfeld, director of the Tobacco Control Policy and Legal Resource Center in Atlantic City.

In Colorado, newer casinos such as Ameristar in Black Hawk claim their modern ventilation systems eat up second hand smoke. Even nonsmoking gamblers say they do notice a difference.

"I always liked those little casinos, but they’re full of smoke," said Tom Wilkinson, a retired Air Force pilot who lives in Highlands Ranch.

Wilkinson, 73, and his wife visited Ameristar on Friday, as they do two to three times a week. Even though they find it less smoky than others, they still leave trousers and shirts in the laundry room upon returning home.

"Without a doubt, our clothes are full of smoke no matter which casino we go to," said Wilkinson.

But just as the smoke doesn’t deter Wilkinson, he doubts a ban would keep smokers away.

"If they ban smoking, it’s not going to affect one thing," he said. "The urge to gamble is too great, too addictive."

Another casino visitor saw it more as a matter of fairness.

"They should take it out of here if they don’t have it in bars," said Aurora resident Thomas Meany as he headed to his car outside of Fortune Valley.

Still, Houk says casinos can ill afford even the possibility of a ban. Television coverage has focused on snow in the mountains, although, he said, the roads generally have been clear.

"It’s killing us up here," Houk said of the weather.