I was in Las Vegas recently for work (yes, I really did work) and was really struck by a few things:
1) The enormous quantity of lights of all colors, often flashing, all spectacular and all over-the-top. I kept thinking about how much energy is wasted is keeping them shining. Even the water show at the Bellagio never stops — I went for an early morning run along the Strip and the fountains were still springing to life in time to music, although no one was around to watch. What a waste of electricity.
2) The lack of natural beauty. I’m sure it’s somewhere in Vegas, and I could see mountains in the distance, but gawd, not even a park near the Strip? Really? No natural greenery at all? I realized when I returned to Washington, D.C., how beautiful this city is.
3) The secondhand smoke (you knew that was coming). It is horrific. Smoking is allowed in casinos. The catch is – everything is a casino. The hotels are giant casinos that happen to have rooms on top. Restaurants are all located in the hotels/casinos. Although smoking is not allowed in restaurants, the doors frequently open onto the hotel/casino area, which means all the smoke filters in. Don’t even get me started about the bars.
The crime of it is, people work in these places all day/night, which means they are exposed to harmful chemicals all the time at work. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health released a report in 2009 showing workers in Las Vegas casinos were experiencing respiratory problems and had byproducts of secondhand smoke in their bodies. The recommendation: Ban smoking in casinos.
Nevada passed a smokefree law in 2006, but it’s pretty weak. Smoking is allowed in gaming areas of casinos and standalone bars. While I understand concerns that casinos will lose business if they were smokefree, I don’t think that would happen. People will still gamble. That’s exactly what restaurant and bar owners predict in every city and state that makes its bars and restaurants smokefree, and the dire predictions never come to pass. At any rate, the health of workers is more important and should be the top consideration.