His claim is that ambulance calls fell by 20 per cent in Colorado after casinos were forced to ban smoking in January 2008 and he has no doubt as to why this was...
"The research shows strong evidence of a significant drop in ambulance calls due to less secondhand smoke exposure,” Glantz said.
In fact, secondhand smoke was never measured, nor is there any record of why the ambulances were called. In keeping with his notorious Helena heart miracle, Glantz looked only at one small, rural community (Gilpin County) rather than the whole of Colorado. If he had looked at the whole state, it would have provided a much larger sample and would have allowed less scope for cherry-picking.
Did ambulance calls really fall by 20 per cent? Although I would never trust any of Glantz's figures until I've seen the raw data with my own eyes, he provides a graph which suggests that a decline did indeed occur (the casino smoking ban is shown by the middle red line; the line to the right of it shows when casino hours were extended in 2009). Note that these are ambulances going to and from the casinos themselves, not the whole area.
But here's another graph. It was published by the Denver Post after the smoking ban had been in place for six months. It shows revenue in the Colorado casino industry which, as it says, was "languishing in its worst downturn ever" in 2008.
The story of what happened to these casinos after the smoking ban was enacted is predictable enough. This is from June 2008...
Colorado's mountain casinos are mired in their worst downturn ever, walloped by a smoking ban, high gas prices and a tightening economy that has cut into discretionary spending.
While other states with commercial casinos, such as Nevada and New Jersey, are also struggling, Colorado's 10.7 percent revenue drop during the first four months of 2008 is the second-largest in the nation, according to an analysis by The Denver Post.
"We might've had a few blips before, but nothing like this," said Marc Murphy, co-general manager of Bronco Billy's Casino in Cripple Creek.
...Murphy said he believes 75 percent of the current downturn is attributable to the statewide smoking ban that extended to casinos Jan. 1.
Lower revenues in the casino business can only be the result of fewer people coming in and/or people staying for shorter periods of time.
Golden resident Jane Painter said, between puffs, that she cut her trips from twice a week to once every couple of weeks because of the smoking ban.
"It's not so much fun anymore," said Painter, 68.
Inside the casino, Denver resident Paul Williams, 48, said his trips have dropped from twice a week to three times a month.
Not only did revenues fall but four casinos went out of business altogether.
Colorado has three fewer casinos operating this year, since four have shut down, while a new one recently opened in Cripple Creek.
The rapid decline of the Colorado casino industry has been well documented. There is no doubt that things went down quickly and sharply. For example...
Thanks to smoking bans initiated in early 2008, Colorado and Illinois have sustained major dips in gambling revenue, according to experts on a panel Wednesday at the Global Gaming Expo.
Gaming-tax collections in the Centennial State were off as much as 25.4 percent in the second quarter year over year in some jurisdictions, and as much as 53 percent in the third quarter year over year once you throw in the effects of a new, graduated tax, said Lois Rice, executive director of the Colorado Gaming Association.
Colorado casinos took the second-largest revenue hit in the industry in 2008 with a 12.3 percent drop, according to a new report by the American Gaming Association.
Only Illinois suffered a bigger drop with a 20.9 percent decline. The American Gaming Association attributed the states’ struggles, in part, to smoking bans that took effect last year.
...For 2008, Colorado casinos posted revenue of $715.9 million, down from $816.1 million. They generated $88.4 million in tax revenue for the state, down 23.4 percent from $115.4 million in 2007.
Things got so bad that the government agreed to help them out.
Colorado regulators are giving tax relief to some casinos hurt by revenue declines ranging in the double digits after smoking was banned.
The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission approved the new formula Thursday. Casinos that have revenue between $4 million and $15 million a year will pay less next year.
...Casino revenue has declined every month this year in wake of a smoking ban that took effect in January.
Of course, it is impossible to completely disentangle the effect of the smoking ban from other factors, such as the recession, but exact quantification is not necessary to demonstrate the fatal problem with Glantz's latest study. It is only necessary to show that casinos in Colorado saw a large decline in attendance at exactly the same time that the smoking ban came into effect. That such a drop-off occurred is beyond dispute. If you've got fewer people in the casino, obviously you're going to have fewer people needing ambulances.
Incredibly, Glantz does not control for the fact that attendance dropped off after the smoking ban. Nowhere in the study does he acknowledge that the fall in ambulance calls from casinos coincided with "the worst downturn ever" in the local casino industry. How could he? Not only would it screw up his attempt to show that smoking bans reduce ambulance call outs, but it would also undermine his previous attempt to show that smoking bans don't harm the casino business. Oh, what a tangled web we weave.