Connecticut legislators are to establish a panel to negotiate with the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes over smoking bans at their casinos. The threat of a state imposed ban remains in place.
A bill introduced in the legislature this session would have extended the smoking ban for licensed premises in Connecticut to the stateâ€™s two tribal casinos, which so far have enjoyed an exemption.Â The bill is backed by the United Auto Workers, the union thatâ€™s fighting to organize dealers at Foxwoods casino, but itâ€™s been vigorously opposed by both tribes, who have maintained that the state does not have jurisdiction on their reservations to impose a ban.Â Now the Public Health committee has voted to establish a panel to begin talks with the tribes.Â Assistant majority leader Peter Tercyak.
"The tribes through their governments wanted a civil discussion about this, and theyâ€™re going to have an opportunity to do it.Â People have a right to expect a healthy workplace if its possible to do that.Â Maybe the casinos are interested in talking about areas where people can smoke that workers donâ€™t go in while people are smoking, as other parts of the world have done in their airports or even their bars."
But the bill also says if talks are unsuccessful, the ban will still take effect in 2009, and both tribes have criticized the committeeâ€™s approach.Â The Mohegans have said they wonâ€™t attend talks if thereâ€™s still the threat of imposition.