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Letter: Don't blame smoking ban for decline in gambling

On Oct. 1, Minnesota went smoke-free. Just three months later, the Freedom to Breathe Act was blamed for the decline in charitable gambling. The folks who made these charges during a legislative hearing neglected to mention that charitable gambli...

On Oct. 1, Minnesota went smoke-free. Just three months later, the Freedom to Breathe Act was blamed for the decline in charitable gambling. The folks who made these charges during a legislative hearing neglected to mention that charitable gambling - mainly pull-tab sales in bars - has been on the decline for years. Membership in fraternal organizations has declined, and there are ever more ways for the gambler to be separated from his or her money: tribal casinos, Internet gaming and super lotteries like the Powerball.

The fact is that sales of scratch-offs and Powerball tickets dropped 17 percent in January, and they are sold principally in gas stations, grocery stores and mini-marts, all of which were not generally impacted by the smoking ban. A far more likely reason for the decline in sales of all of these forms of gambling is simply the declining economy. People make choices: fill the car with gas and buy groceries, or drop money on pull-tabs.

I find it truly offensive to suggest that workers and customers should have to endure poisoning by the chemicals in secondary cigarette smoke so that charitable contributions can be made to various causes.

The Freedom to Breathe Act is working. Seventy-six percent of Minnesotans favor it. Hospitality workers can literally breathe free, with a significantly reduced exposure to tobacco-specific cancer causing chemicals. Those are the facts.

Jim Heltzer

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District 3 Commissioner

Beltrami County

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