A few years ago, during the pandemic, casinos across the United States implemented temporary indoor smoking bans. While some venues lifted these bans post-pandemic, others took the opportunity to make them permanent. Despite initial industry concerns about potential declines in visitation and gaming revenue, recent media reports and data from casinos suggest these fears may be unsubstantiated.
Currently, about a dozen states in the US, including Kansas, still permit smoking inside casinos. However, efforts to eliminate smoking on casino floors are gaining momentum in Kansas. This week, a new legislative proposal, House Bill 2622 (HB 2622), was introduced to address this issue. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Owen Donohoe, David Buehler, Sydney Carlin, Ford Carr, and Dennis Highberger, was referred to the House’s Committee on Health and Human Services and is scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, February 7, 2024.
Anti-smoking Group Supports the New Proposal
The bill has garnered support from Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) Kansas, an advocacy group fighting against indoor smoking in casinos. Joe Hafley, the founder of CEASE Kansas and a security employee at Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, expressed his support for the bill. Quoted by KCTV, Hafley emphasized the long-standing struggle of casino workers against secondhand smoke exposure.
Hafley pointed out the unfair situation where casino workers have to endure harmful environments for their livelihood. He stressed that the bill represents more than just the financial aspects of the casino industry; it’s a symbol of hope for the health and safety of employees. Hafley firmly believes that casino workers shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their paycheck.
In New Jersey, another state where smoking in casinos is currently allowed, a similar ban is gaining traction. A bill aiming to eliminate indoor smoking in casinos recently received approval from the New Jersey Senate Health Committee. However, its future remains uncertain as it still has several legislative hurdles to overcome.
The Growing Movement Towards Smoke-Free Casino Environments
The introduction of HB 2622 in Kansas and the progress of similar legislation in New Jersey reflect a growing trend towards smoke-free casino environments. This movement is driven by increasing awareness of the health risks associated with secondhand smoke and the need to provide safer workplaces for casino employees. As more states consider implementing such bans, the casino industry is adapting to changing public health standards and customer preferences. The success of these legislative efforts could pave the way for a broader shift towards smoke-free policies in casinos nationwide, balancing public health concerns with the economic interests of the gaming industry.