100% smokefree workplace policies are the only effective way to eliminate secondhand smoke
The 2006 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report, “The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Secondhand Smoke,” concluded that 100% smokefree workplace policies are the only effective way to eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in the workplace. Even sophisticated ventilation systems do not eliminate the health hazards of secondhand smoke. Casino, bar, and restaurant workers remain significantly more exposed to toxic secondhand smoke at their job site compared to other segments of the U.S. workforce.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends making all casinos 100% smokefree to ensure indoor air within casinos is safe for workers to breathe.
In the casino industry, it’s often said that change is the only constant. One area of change is the growing trend for smokefree casinos.
At one time, smokefree casinos were as unthinkable as smokefree airplanes or restaurants were in their era. Today, it is an issue in flux. On one hand, there are more than 800 smokefree casinos and gambling venues. It is required by law in 20 states for state-regulated venues, and numerous sovereign tribes have also adopted smokefree policies. On the other hand, most gambling sector workers are still exposed to secondhand smoke. There is a stark disparity of exposure even within individual companies based on the simple geography of smokefree laws.
The sooner that cities and states enact strong smokefree workplace laws, the sooner casino companies and their workforce with achieve regional parity on this important health and safety issue.
Casino operators have invested billions of dollars into scores of new smokefree indoor air casinos in just the last five years alone. Operators have learned how to make smokefree indoor air a non-issue while still being welcoming to all customers. For example, with having outdoor smoking patios located off the gambling floor.
To learn more about the trend for smokefree gambling view our factsheet.
Who is affected?
"It's A Great Job, But Not Worth Dying For"
A casino’s smokefree air worksite policy reflects concern for the health and well-being of casino staff. It is no surprise that casino workers are among the biggest supporters for smokefree gambling. Aside from lowering employee morale, constant exposure to secondhand smoke creates higher rates of absenteeism and turnover, higher health and life insurance costs, workers’ compensation payments, disability payments, and even leads to premature death. With just 1 less day of absenteeism per casino employee per year, smokefree casinos stand to save a lot of money annually in lost productivity.
No one should have to get sick from breathing toxic air in their job. Smokefree laws save lives and improve health at a population wide level.
Hear Alecia's story in her own words about what it was like to work in Nevada's smoke-filled casino industry, an industry that eventually took her life in 2015.
Working for decades in smoke-filled casinos resulted in Sheryl’s battle with throat cancer. You will note that Sheryl’s voice was weak in this recording (2011). Soon after this recording, her voice was too weak to speak at all. She asked us to “be her voice” when she could no longer speak. Sadly, Sheryl lost her battle with cancer on August 3, 2012. We will continue to fight for smokefree air in all casino workplaces, for Sheryl, and for all casino workers. Please join us!
After decades working at a smoke-filled casino, Vinny Rennich found out he had lung cancer. He had never smoked. Hear how he fought back, and won.
Treva shares her story of what it is like to work in casinos. Treva is now a casino dealer in a smokefree casino and she loves it!
Who Else is Affected?
Giving the Players and Patrons a Voice
Most casinos have a player’s club. Casino player’s club members are repeat customers who are invested in their particular casinos and brands. Casinos offer special rewards and incentives to keep their player’s club members satisfied and coming back for more gambling or entertainment experiences, including dining, shows, hotel upgrades, and so forth. Therefore, it is important to engage casino patrons (including potential customers) and player’s club members in the conversation about the need and desire for a smokefree casino. Their input will be crucial to help support a smokefree policy. This is something to consider carefully.
What's the Real Cost of Keeping
Secondhand Smoke in Casinos?
Casino Workers At Risk
25-30% increased risk
of heart disease caused by secondhand smoke exposure.
20-30% increased risk
of lung cancer and stroke.
85% of U.S adults
100% of people
in a casino are secondhand smokers, if smoking is allowed anywhere indoors.
Don't Buy the Ventilation Lie
Tobacco companies targeted the casino industry for years with the idea of investing money into costly ventilation systems to deal with secondhand smoke rather than go smokefree. But the science is clear: Even sophisticated casino ventilation systems, smoking sections, or smoking rooms do not address the health hazards of secondhand smoke. This can be easily affirmed with the use of air quality monitors looking at biomarkers of exposure in workers such as NNK – a tobacco specific carcinogen.
The only way to protect health is with a 100% smokefree environment. Even low levels of smoke exposure can still cause a lot of health damage.
Yelp and Trip Advisor
Make Your Voice Heard Online
How Did Secondhand Smoke Affect Your Visit
Casino management and shareholders pay attention to popular websites that provide customer reviews (such as TripAdvisor and Yelp). Encourage community members to post comments on the casino’s Facebook site and review sites, demonstrating public support for a smokefree gambling experience. If smokefree supporters are a silent majority, then the casino management will only hear from the tobacco industry and a handful of disgruntled smokers. Positive comments about smokefree policies help management know that the policy is popular.
If you have to go to a meeting or sporting event at a smoke-filled casino complex, be sure to urge your event organizers to adopt a policy to only have events at smokefree venues.
Examples of actual postings:
“Thank you for the smokefree indoor air for the health of your awesome staff and patrons. We recently visited the property and appreciated the thoughtful design for outdoor smoking areas accessible from the gaming floor.”
“As a Hollywood Team member and an ex-smoker (16.5 years smokefree) I LOVE the smokefree atmosphere. Even the smoking players (I work as a dealer) are impressed by the clean air and easy access to a smoking patio. It's a win-win for all!”
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