Gambling

Majority of Nevadans Think Casino Smoking Should Be Outlawed

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Posted on: April 23, 2024, 02:34h. 

Last updated on: April 23, 2024, 02:34h.

A majority of people in Nevada reportedly support closing a loophole that allows state casinos to permit indoor smoking anywhere on their gaming floors.

Nevada casino smoking tobacco
A new poll finds most Nevadans would support requiring state casinos to go entirely smoke-free. A legislative change, however, seems unlikely, as the state’s powerful casino interests have political clout in Carson City. (Image: Getty)

A new study commissioned by the Nevada Tobacco Control and Smoke-free Coalition finds that nearly six in 10 Nevadans think Nevada’s Clean Indoor Air Act that went into effect in December 2006 should be modified to remove the casino exemption.

Normington Petts, a polling and campaign strategy firm based in Washington, DC, found that 58% of Nevada voters support requiring casinos to go smoke-free.

The findings come as legislative efforts are underway in Atlantic City to amend New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act, which was also adopted in 2006. In Atlantic City, casinos can designate up to 25% of their gaming space for indoor tobacco use.

Secondhand Smoke More Dangerous Indoors

This week, researchers at the School of Public Health at the University of Nevada, Reno, published a study of air quality in smoking and nonsmoking areas of Nevada casinos. The probe found that secondhand smoke is 18 times more dangerous indoors than outside.

The University of Nevada, Reno, study reached similar conclusions as researchers with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did last year. In that probe, federal health officials said dangerous, elevated levels of Particulate Matter (PM) were detected to be widespread in areas of casinos supposedly smoke-free.

PM particles are 100 times thinner than a human strand of hair and can remain suspended in the air for over 24 hours. The CDC report concluded that the only way to protect worker and patron health inside a casino is to enact a complete smoking ban.

Several commercial gaming states already require their casino floors to be 100% smoke-free. They include Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and South Dakota.

Tobacco smoking in the US continues to dwindle. The CDC reports that smoking rates among adults have dropped from nearly 21% in 2005 to 11.5% in 2021, the most recent surveyed year. Smoking prevalence remains slightly higher in Nevada, with about 15% of adults still smoking. 

Uphill Battle

No industry is more powerful in Nevada than gaming, as casinos employ more workers in the state than any other sector. MGM Resorts is Nevada’s largest employer.

The casino industry is heavily opposed to efforts to extinguish indoor smoking. Casino execs say such a regulation would lead to gamblers playing in other states where smoking remains or at tribal casinos that set their own smoking rules.

The Nevada Tobacco Control and Smoke-free Coalition poll found that many Nevadans are skeptical about the industry’s claims that a smoking prohibition would dampen gaming revenue and lead to widespread job layoffs. Less than four in 10 said they think a smoking ban would have a negative impact.

Anti-smoking proponents regularly cite Parx Casino north of Philadelphia, the only full-scale casino in Pennsylvania that doesn’t allow indoor smoking, which continues to dominate the statewide gaming industry. Some lobbyists claim a smoking ban would help, not hurt, gaming revenue. However, it could also be argued that Parx is simply the premier destination for non-smokers while other casinos in the Philly market are splitting the smoking demographic.

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