The smoke signals are clear and casinos in the United States are pulling away from the idea of allowing cigars, cigarettes, and other nicotine products on their gaming floors, or anywhere on the premises for the matter. The latest to act is Navajo Nation, the largest Native American reservation, which signed a prohibition on Saturday, banning indoor smoking in many of the tribe’s locations, including its casinos. Navajo had been debating the manner for a while now.
Commenting on this, Navajo Nation president Jonathan Nez described the decision as “monumental,” and a “bold step in the right direction.” He has a point. The Navajo Nation is just one of the tribal operators out there who have indefinitely placed the well-being of their own communities above everything else, enacting sweeping changes during the pandemic to ensure the safety of all.
Not a Smoke Screen, A Step in the Right Direction
In a statement, Nez argued that it was “Navajo people’s right to breathe clean air.” This follows up on a legal movement on the matter with tribal lawmakers agreeing in October on a bill that essentially restricts the use of chewing tobacco, electronic cigarettes, and other commercial products in buildings and workspaces.
The smoking ban does not apply to personal use, but it may apply in cases where the products are used in adult care centers or business offices, for example. The ban also marks a long and sinuous road on which the Navajo Nation embarked 13 years ago in a bid to educate people about the dangers of second-hand smoke.
With the pandemic arrival and sanitation becoming the upper-most focus in people’s minds, anti-smoking advocates were able to act quickly and renew the dialogue about expelling smoking from casino floors. The move has struck a chord with health experts, as it was established that COVID could likely travel through smoke, thus increasing the risk of infection and transmittance.
The measure was backed by the Navajo Nation Council with strong support, with a few dissident voices citing concerns about the loss of revenue. However, the Navajo Nation is not the first one to consider embracing an anti-smoking policy.
Anti-Smoking Policies Take Hold over the US
Other casinos around the US have suspended smoking and they have been able to generate respectable results all the same. Pennsylvania and New Jersey have vowed off indoor smoking, citing stronger results regardless of the potential “loss of revenue.”
The Navajo Nation has now prohibited smoking at three properties in New Mexico. Nez seems to be on board with the ban as well. Previously, the Navajo Nation Council tried to remove smoke from casino floors in 2008, but the former president, Joe Shirley Jr. chose to veto it.
This time around, though, cigars will finally be snuffed out on casino floors across Navajo Nation’s tribal casinos and other properties targeted by the decision. Anti-smoking policies have been pushed all over the US so far as casinos have been concerned.