Amid the pandemic a few years ago, casinos in the United States took the initiative to temporarily prohibit smoking indoors. Although some establishments only enforced this policy for the duration of the pandemic, others seized the opportunity to make the ban permanent. Despite warnings from the industry about potential declines in visitation and gaming revenues, recent media reports and data suggest that these concerns may be unwarranted.
Presently, nearly a dozen states in the US permit smoking inside casinos. Kansas is one of these states, and efforts to maintain smoking on casino floors persist. A new proposal, known as House Bill 2622 (HB 2622), was introduced earlier this week with the aim of closing the existing loophole that allows smoking in casinos across the state. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Owen Donohoe, David Buehler, Sydney Carlin, Ford Carr, and Dennis Highberger, has been referred to the House’s Committee on Health and Human Services, with a scheduled hearing for February 7, 2024.
The proposal has garnered support from the group of casino workers advocating against smoking inside casino establishments, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) Kansas. Joe Hafley, the founder of CEASE Kansas and a security employee at Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway, expressed approval for the long-term efforts of casino workers to eliminate indoor smoking. Hafley emphasized the detrimental impact of secondhand smoke on casino workers and hailed the bill as a beacon of hope for their well-being.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, where smoking inside casinos is permitted, a proposal to ban smoking in casinos has advanced after gaining approval from the New Jersey Senate Health Committee. However, the bill still faces a lengthy process before becoming law. These developments reflect a growing shift towards eliminating indoor smoking in casinos, prompted by concerns for the health and well-being of both employees and patrons.