Despite certain states banning indoor smoking, Pennsylvania casinos still refrain from joining their ranks. This is the topic of a new Triblive article that examines the issue in depth.
Casinos Fear Banning Smoking Will Cost them Customers
Since the beginning of the millennia, people have realized the dangers of indoor smoking and have gradually prohibited tobacco use in confined spaces. Yet, while the ban did prohibit smoking in restaurants and other indoor venues, casinos in certain states remained an exception.
Currently, only 20 of the United States’ 50 states have prohibited smoking in casinos. However, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation continues to push for a tobacco ban across casinos in all states.
Pennsylvania had temporarily banned smoking because of health concerns in relation to the raging COVID-19 pandemic but since lifting the ban in June, 14 of the state’s 16 licensed casinos have returned to their old practices. The Clean Indoor Air Act requires casinos to have at least 50% of their play area dedicated to nonsmokers but discussions of whether a permanent ban should be implemented or not continue.
According to Alan Feldman from the International Gaming Institute at the University of Nevada commented that there is an obvious relation between smokers and gambling. Sean Sullivan added that he is yet to see a casino that bans smoking and continues prospering. According to the latter, most casinos shut down because they end up alienating a large group of people.
Hollywood Casino at the Meadows spokesperson commented that casinos prefer to accommodate the needs of both the smoking and nonsmoking demographics in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Clean Indoor Air Act. Likewise, the Washington County casino has established a state-of-the-art ventilation system in order to ensure the comfort of all its customers.
“It’s a balance, and one that we feel the marketplace should determine, particularly in such a competitive environment with other gaming facilities nearby and in neighboring states,” a Washington County spokesperson commented.
Other casinos have also tried to cater to all their clients’ needs.
Nonsmokers Are Hellbent on Banning Indoor Smoking
The initiatives against smoking in casinos began in 2008 when the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation created the Breathe Easy with Smokefree Casinos organization.
The American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation’s president and chief executive officer, Cynthia Hallett explained that she doesn’t want to fuel antagonism between smokers and nonsmokers but rather to create a balance where smokers smoke in a way that doesn’t harm others.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, secondhand smoke causes as much as 41,000 deaths annually.
Because of the growing concerns, there were efforts to amend the Clean Indoor Air Act and limit the casino area dedicated to smokers to 25%, instead of 50%.
Currently Mount Airy and Parx Casino are the only two casinos in Pennsylvania where smoking is prohibited. In the former of the two, smokers can still smoke in designated areas. According to a Mount Airy spokesperson, going smoke-free was a change that was welcomed by smokers and nonsmokers alike.
There is still a long way before the casinos go completely smoke-free. Some states, such as New Jersey, are heavily opposed to any smoking ban. However, analysts believe that little by little nonsmokers’ areas will grow and there will be an eventual shift where smokers will prefer to refrain from smoking than to be isolated in the casino. Dedicated smoking areas, such as the ones in Mount Airy, will likely remain as a good compromise between smokers and nonsmokers.