In an effort to create a healthier environment for Pennsylvania’s casinos, Dan Frankel, a Democratic representative from Allegheny County, is pushing for a ban on indoor smoking within the state’s gambling establishments. House Bill 1657, also known as the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act, is spearheaded by Frankel, who serves as the majority chair of the health committee.
The bill is set for a vote on November 15 and aims to prohibit smoking inside casinos, with the goal of providing a cleaner and safer atmosphere for both employees and patrons. Frankel has been actively seeking support from colleagues to co-sponsor the bill and has successfully navigated it through committee discussions.
The upcoming health committee meeting, scheduled for next week, will play a crucial role as it marks the fourth step in the legislative process. During the meeting, 25 committee members will have the opportunity to offer amendments to the bill, which will then be voted on individually.
Frankel has expressed confidence in the bill’s potential for receiving bipartisan support and an affirmative vote. He has emphasized that he does not bring a bill forward without certainty of its success. While the timeline for the bill’s progress remains uncertain, Frankel is optimistic about its prospects and hopes to see it on Governor Josh Shapiro’s desk for approval by March or April.
The initiative has gained momentum from Parx Casino, a leading casino operator in Pennsylvania, which has demonstrated that eliminating smoking does not hinder success. Both of Parx’s venues have remained smoke-free since the pandemic, leading to improved employee morale and reduced healthcare costs, according to Parx’s Chief Marketing Officer, Marc Oppenheimer.
In addition to the positive impact on employees, Frankel emphasized that a smoke-free environment also enhances the experience for non-smoking patrons. The initiative comes after previous attempts to implement similar legislation faced opposition, citing potential revenue drops. However, advocates, including Pennsylvania’s Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) chapter, believe that the ban could save lives and protect workers from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
Ultimately, Frankel’s goal is to prioritize public health and safety in Pennsylvania’s thriving casino industry and create a healthier workplace environment for all.