Is it it time to ban smoking at casinos?

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On a recent visit to a casino hotel, I had a non-smoking room.

Well, almost.

To get to my “non-smoking” room I had to walk through part of the casino, which was filled with cigarette smoke. Although there was a non-smoking area in the casino, smoke permeated it, too. Same for the hotel’s lobby, elevators and hallways.

My eyes filled with tears on my way to my room and my clothes reeked of cigarette smoke by the time I reached it. I couldn’t avoid the smoke.

When it comes to casinos, there’s really no such thing as “non-smoking.” Which makes me wonder if it isn’t time to end smoking in casinos.

The US Surgeon General’s report on the health consequences of smoking published this year finds that more than 20 million premature deaths can be attributed to cigarette smoking during the last half-century.

The report confirms the serious health effects of secondhand tobacco smoke where it states, “Exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke has been causally linked to cancer, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases…”

Considering only casino employee health, and the heart, lung and cancer diseases which come from their exposure to hours of secondhand smoke daily, why should they have to endure gamblers’ smoke to keep their jobs? Don’t casino employees have a right to a safe, healthy workplace?

Smokers point out they have rights too, but the question I would ask is: Does the right to smoke trump the right of a person to work in a safe, healthy workplace?

Dr. Georg Matt a San Diego State University professor who led a study, published in the journal Tobacco Control entitled, “Thirdhand smoke and exposure in California hotels: non-smoking rooms fail to protect non-smoking hotel guests from tobacco smoke exposure,” has stated that nicotine residues and other chemical traces “don’t stay in the smoking rooms. They end up in the hallways and in other rooms, including non-smoking rooms.”

Shouldn’t nonsmokers be able to stay in truly non-smoking rooms in casino-hotels? Shouldn’t nonsmokers have the right to be protected from tobacco smoke disease when they travel?

The study’s data included scientific analyses of nonsmoking test subjects staying in hotels with a mix of smoking and non-smoking rooms, compared to those staying in hotels where smoking is banned. Skin and urine analysis showed that test subjects staying in hotels with a mix of smoking and non-smoking rooms had statistically higher levels of nicotine on their bodies, and elevated levels of urine cotinine, compared to subjects staying in the hotels with complete smoking bans.

The test subjects staying in the most polluted rooms of the hotels which permitted some smoking also had a significantly higher concentration of urinary NNAL, a potent pulmonary carcinogen, than other test subjects at those hotels.

Extrapolating those results to casinos themselves with virtually no real barriers between smoking and non-smoking areas, for the most part, and we immediately see scientific evidence that even the non-smoking areas of casinos are dangerous to our health.

The study concluded that, “Partial smoking bans in hotels do not protect non-smoking guests from exposure to tobacco smoke and tobacco-specific carcinogens.” At this point in my life, I don’t stay in hotels or go to casinos which aren’t 100 percent smoke free.

It’s unhealthy to do otherwise.

Is it it time to ban smoking at casinos?

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  • VELS14

    I’ve had the same experience in Vegas and Atlantic City. It stinks, literally. It was already time to ban smoking a long time ago.

    Macau has banned smoking it its casinos as of this coming October on the floors and for all table game and slot areas. It turns out their six casino operators asked for the ban, despite the many Chinese (most smokers by percentage and total number on the planet) gambling there.

    The casinos can build special private rooms for gambling with special ventilation systems and separate HVAC, etc. but that would be expensive for the potential take of those rooms.

  • bodega3

    Harrah’s at Stateline, NV tried having a nonsmoking section. It failed.

  • Renee

    I was at the beautiful Beau Rivage in Biloxi, MS over Christmas. Walking around the hotel was disgusting. From the moment you walked off the elevators, you smelled smoke…and you smelled OF smoke. To get to many of the restaurants, you had to pass/gag through the casino. Even some of the non-smoking rooms smelled like smoke! The only place we could go to get away was the spa. And while I love spas, I can’t afford to go to them for three days in a row. I will never go back as long as they allow smoking.

  • NedLevi

    I’m with you Renee, but unfortunately some conventions I go to are in Las Vegas, and it’s far more convenient to have a room in the main convention hotel for breakout sessions, etc., that I bite the bullet. I’m hoping smoking eventually (sooner than later) is banned there.

    When choosing general hotels I state at ones which don’t permit smoking in them. Fortunately, hotels these days generally realize that most of the world doesn’t smoke, even in China where about a quarter of all Chinese adults smoke, and by banning smoking they are catering to the vast majority of travelers.

    What you describe reminds me of flying pre-1988. Up until that time, only pipes and cigars were banned on planes. In 1988, smoking was banned on US Domestic flights under 2 hours. Finally, 10 years later, smoking was banned on all US Domestic flights, and 2 years later on all flights by US airlines. Before 1988, when there were smoking and non-smoking sections, by the end of many, if not most flights, the entire plane was smoke filled. It was awful.

  • NedLevi

    At this point B., smoking or not, those Stateline casinos look like they may go down the tubes quickly these days. Stateline’s casino revenues dropped 42.3% in April, the last month fully reported month at this point, compared to 2013. This was the largest drop in the state. The new San Francisco area casinos are killing them.

  • TonyA_says

    No. All vices should be allowed in casinos.

  • BKMatthew

    A more recent experience I had was on Egyptair, around 1998. On the trip from Sydney to Singapore, I had a non-smoking seat, but it didn’t make much difference as there were a lot of chain smokers on the flight. On the trip back from Singapore to Sydney, all the non-smoking seats were taken, but sitting in the smoking area, I discovered that a row or two behind me in the middle block of four, Egyptair had reserved the entire middle block of four seats for smokers in non-smoking seats to come back and light up. Those seats were in constant use the entire eight hour flight. I swore then that I would never again fly an airline that allowed smoking on any of its aircraft, anywhere in the world. Of course, now that it is in Star Alliance, Egyptair is non-smoking.

    Crown Casino in Melbourne, AU and Star City Casino in Auckland, NZ have both banned smoking (or rather their licensing governments have done it for them), with no apparent drop in revenue.

  • duaba

    what’s the point of pumping in pure oxygen into the casinos if it’s going to be filled with smoke? i say YES! please ban ASAP

  • bodega3

    Yes, the Indian casinos, have cut into many other gaming locations. With Indian casinos, regulation of smoking can’t be done by the government. On cruises, ships are becoming smoke free except in allowed smoking areas and of course, the casinos are one of those areas. Most gamblers are smokers. And what I find interesting, those who don’t smoke will still sit in a casino with all the smoke to gamble. I don’t get it.

  • NedLevi

    VELS14 mentioned Macau. It will be interesting to see what happens to their casinos after the smoking ban goes into effect. Macau passed Las Vegas a few years ago as the largest gambling mecca by the amount wagered.

    I think it’s possible that casinos, even casinos with non-smoking areas have failed to attract non-smokers may be that non-smokers are smart enough to realize that casinos which allow some smoking have no true smoke free areas at all. There are many successful smoke free casinos in the US.

  • HerrinSchadenfreude

    No. I’m no more a fan of answering everything with a ban hammer than I am of over-entitlement. The anti-smoking Lobby could care less about smokers and non-smokers health, or it wouldn’t have banned e-cigs. It’s about money, just like pot was.

    If you don’t want to deal with smoking in casinos, then stay out of them. Otherwise, I’m sort of sick of the criminalization of legal activities for the sake of the so called entitled. And that’s as a non smoker.

  • Dave R

    I’d love to see someone open a truly smoke-free resort/casino in Vegas. I’m sure it would be a huge success. I know it would be the only place that I would stay at.

  • bodega3

    Smoke free casinos or casinos with smoke free areas?

  • Tobacco is of Nature

    How about instead of”Banning Tobacco”,How about going after the excutives at Phillip Morris and RJ Reynolds arresting them.


    It’s the 600 intentional Chemical Additives and Genetically Modifying of Cigarettes that make Cigarettes Bad Not Tabacco.

    Those 2 things is why your loved ones are dead.

    Tobacco is of Nature and of God the Father of Christ Jesus my Lord.
    I thought you Liberals knew that,since your soo much into the Environment.
    It shows your just as Dumb as the Conservative Bible Thumpers.
    Your called the Save-The-Earth Thumpers.

  • Bill___A

    it should be banned in all indoor areas, near doors, windows, air vents or other openings and on patios or near them.

    All hotels should be required to offer non smoking rooms at no extra charge, that are located on non smoking floors.

    Las Vegas wants to promote themselves as a convention destination and most hotels won’t even guarantee a non smoking room. Absurd.

  • Bill___A

    Lots of places do ban e-cigs. And it is a health thing. Nice try.

  • Ton

    the only way casinos can be forced is by the customers, companies that care for their employees should stop going or organizing conventions in vegas, The caribean has plenty of alternatives for gamblers.

  • Guest

    Thanks for the question. I hope I’ve cleared up my comment by correcting my typo.

  • VELS14

    My last room in Las Vegas was on a non-smoking floor. It made no difference. Smoke was everywhere. You could smell it in the rooms and hallways. The only way to have non-smoking rooms in hotels is if smoking is banned throughout the hotel.

  • VELS14

    According to the American Cancer Society and public health experts with whom I’ve spoken, natural tobacco, particularly when burned, has as many as 40 individual carcinogens which will do as much or more harm as cigarette additives.

    Plain tobacco, without additives, can alone cause elevated blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels, and elevate one’s risk of arterial clotting and therefore stroke in those who smoke.

    The misconception about the problems of tobacco come in part, in my opinion, on the anti-smoking movement’s emphasis on tobacco additives, and has unfortunately implied that somehow natural tobacco isn’t unhealthy when smoked. It is.

  • ORguest

    Ned – I was in Vegas last week for a trade show, and stayed at a “suites” hotel across the street from the convention center (a five to ten minute walk). No smoking, no noisy slots. It was heaven. As for banning smoking, the businesses should decide. If there was a fully, truly non-smoking casino, it would be filled with non-smokers in no time. “If you build it, they will come.”

  • AKFlyer

    Casino employees are “entitled” to a healthy workplace, and, moreover, employers are legally liable if their workers fall ill or die due to on the job hazards. That’s the primary reason smoking bans have been enacted by governments in the US. You can no more tell a worker to “get a job somewhere else” in order to avoid the risk of second-hand smoke exposure than you can tell them to “get a job somewhere else” if they don’t want to be exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos, radiation, etc. Congress has already spoken on this issue. You have a right to disagree about whether the workplace safety laws Congress and the states have enacted are appropriate, and based on your moniker you seem to be bragging about your lack of empathy, but surely you know better than to pretend they don’t exist. There’s a reason Clark Co. NV service workers have low wages and poor health compared to the rest of the US (also some of the worst schools in the country) . . . personally I am not interested in giving Las Vegas casino operators any of my money.

  • Mairi

    I have spent my entire life living in Vegas and Reno. And I almost never go to any casino restaurant or show because of having to walk thru smoky casino areas. I miss out on a lot of good restaurants and performances, but it is better than stinking like an ashtray and suffering with watery eyes and a sore throat. I dream of the day when casinos will restrict smoking to enclosed rooms, but doubt it will happen in my lifetime.

  • Alex

    If the casino employees don’t like working in a smoke-filled environment then they’re perfectly free to work someplace else. They knew a daily dose of nicotine came with the job when they took it.

    And let’s be real here…it’s not like casinos are wonderful places to work at to begin with.

  • Alex

    As an ex-smoker turned vaper…I could really care less, but you better damn well leave e-cigarettes alone.