NFL’s Kelce Shines Spotlight on Casino Smoking in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV— On the latest episode of the New Heights Podcast, NFL star Jason Kelce was notably still dealing with a hoarse cough after spending Super Bowl week in Las Vegas. Kelce emphasized that he does not smoke but that he was constantly surrounded by cigarette smoke inside Las Vegas casinos.

“It is notable that an athlete of Jason Kelce’s caliber is still suffering from the lingering effects of breathing secondhand smoke while he spent time in smoke-filled Las Vegas casinos for Super Bowl events,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers Rights. “Unfortunately, this is only a fraction of what casino workers have to deal with every day as some work entire shifts only arms-length away from smokers. We have long fought for states to close the casino smoking loophole that not only puts workers at risk but also the millions of guests who visit casinos in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Secondhand smoke is a danger to everyone who spends time in these casinos and Jason’s experience is a prime example. Ending indoor smoking in casinos will not only create a healthier environment for workers and guests, but it can also help attract a new generation of customers who don’t want to be exposed to these harmful conditions.

During the podcast, Kelce could be heard coughing throughout the conversation and he reiterated the environment typical of Las Vegas, highlighting the prevalence of cigarette smoke in casinos. “Vegas man. I've been surrounded by cigarette smoke and yelling,” he said. “I'm not smoking nothing but all these casinos, turns out you gotta let smoking by.”

More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree indoors, including Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip. At least 160 sovereign tribal gaming venues implemented 100% smoke-free policies during COVID-19, 20 states require commercial casinos to be smoke-free indoors, and more than 1,000 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that found adult cigarette smoking rates in the U.S. dropped to an all-time low, with only 1 in 9 adults saying they were current smokers. Another report from the CDC Office on Smoking and Health examined air quality in Las Vegas casinos. The report, entitled “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Your Lungs,” evaluated particulate matter – an indicator for secondhand smoke – in casinos that are smoke-free indoors, and compared the results to casinos that allow smoking. They affirmed that prohibiting smoking throughout the entirety of a casino is the only way to prevent the harms of secondhand smoke.

Ventilation systems are not the answer, according to the engineers who design such systems and collectively make up the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). “[Ventilation systems] are not effective against secondhand smoke” and “can reduce only odor and discomfort, but cannot eliminate exposure,” reads their report. “There is no currently available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air-cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of [environmental tobacco smoke] to an acceptable level.”

A report published by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming found that casinos without indoor smoking outperform their smoking counterparts. “Data from multiple jurisdictions clearly indicates that banning smoking no longer causes a dramatic drop in gaming revenue,” wrote C3 Gaming. “In fact, non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking.


Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for over 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit and