St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Smoking In Casinos Would Be Banned In St. Louis County Under Proposed Measure
“I Hope The Council Can Prioritize The Health Of Americans When Making This Decision”
“Even If There Are Partial Smoking Restrictions, There’s No Way To Allow For Smoke-Free Air”
Clayton, Missouri— The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that St. Louis County could be the first county in the state of Missouri to implement a smokefree casino policy. The County Council is considering a measure that would close the casino smoking loophole that was originally written into the county’s Indoor Clean Air Code.
KEY POINT: “The [casino smoking] exception poses a serious health threat to customers and employers, county health department Director Dr. Kanika Cunningham said on Tuesday. ‘Even if there are partial smoking restrictions, there’s no way to allow for smoke-free air,’ Cunningham said at a council committee meeting. ‘Even with the current ventilation systems, it can reduce the odor but it still does not reduce the level of hazardous exposure.’”
The article is excerpted below.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Smoking In Casinos Would Be Banned In St. Louis County Under Proposed Measure
By Kelsey Landis
May 3, 2023
CLAYTON — St. Louis County would become the first county in Missouri with a smoking ban for casinos if a measure before the County Council passes.
Casinos have been excluded from St. Louis County’s indoor smoking ban since it went into effect in 2011. But the exception poses a serious health threat to customers and employers, county health department Director Dr. Kanika Cunningham said on Tuesday.
“Even if there are partial smoking restrictions, there’s no way to allow for smoke-free air,” Cunningham said at a council committee meeting. “Even with the current ventilation systems, it can reduce the odor but it still does not reduce the level of hazardous exposure.”
Cunningham, citing a 2022 report from a gaming consulting firm, said data shows smoking bans don’t result in a loss of business. Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming found that, while no casinos in Missouri had indoor smoking bans, those that implemented prohibitions in other states did not experience any drop in revenues.
“What we do know is when casinos went smoke free, they have not lost revenue,” Cunningham said.
Much of C3 Gaming’s study focused on casinos operated by American Indian tribes. Shutdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a trend of Indian casinos deciding to reopen as permanently nonsmoking. By the end of 2020, about 160 in the United States had smoking bans.
The new bans didn’t have any tangible impact on revenues, the firm found.
Akhila Swarna, a senior at Marquette High School in Chesterfield, supported the idea of the ban not just in casinos but everywhere in St. Louis County, saying there’s no safe level of second-hand smoke. The county has exceptions to its smoking ban for 76 businesses, according to the health department.
“The only possible way we can regulate this is by banning it all-in-all,” said Swarna, who advocates for the American Heart Association. “I hope the council can prioritize the health of Americans when making this decision.”
The CDC Office on Smoking and Health recently released a report on secondhand smoke, which 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 smokefree indoors, and compared the results to casinos that allow smoking. They concluded that prohibiting smoking throughout the entirety of a casino is the only way to prevent the harms of secondhand smoke.
A report 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. In fact, non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking.”
More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree, including Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip. At least 160 sovereign Tribal gaming venues have implemented 100% smokefree policies during COVID-19, 23 states require commercial casinos to be smokefree indoors, and more than 1,000 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors.