the Coronavirus pandemic putting an immediate end to a lot of things outside the “normal flow” of our daily life. Handshakes. Blow out candles on birthday cakes. Smoking in Pennsylvania Casinos.
After being forced to close in mid-March 2020, casinos in Pennsylvania began to reopen in early June. Under the new health and safety directives, smoking in Pennsylvania casinos was temporarily prohibited. Previously, casinos could allow smoking up to 50% square footage of the play area.
Smoking in casinos was a divisive topic long before COVID-19. As smoking has fell at the lowest rate in decades, many wonder why it is still allowed in Pennsylvania casinos. Mask wearing warrants made it impossible to illuminate the slits. But now, with non-mandatory masks inside if you’re fully vaccinated at some Pennsylvania casinos, will smoking come back?
Is smoking allowed in casinos in Pennsylvania?
No. There is currently do not smoke in PA casinos. All Pennsylvania casinos have designated areas set up outside for smoking.
When the casinos reopen in June 2020, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Council, in concert with the guidelines for wearing masks in state casinos, put a no smoking rule indoors in force.
“Currently this remains in effect, but we are monitoring the situation with respect to any further changes to the guidelines that would allow complete relief from wearing the mask,” said PGCB Director of Communications Doug Harbach.
Palestinian Authority representative introduced bill to close the smoking loophole
In February 2020, Representative Dan Frankel (D – Allegheny) introduced a bill which attracted 19 co-sponsors at edit the Clean Indoor Air Act. In part it would be close the loophole which allows casinos to allow smoking.
His sponsorship note reads in part:
When Pennsylvanians return to work in the entertainment and hospitality industries, many will suffer the lasting consequences of COVID-19 infection. This development makes it more important than ever to join a growing number of States which have definitively banned smoking in the workplace….Therefore, I will be reintroducing legislation to address the loopholes found in the Clean Indoor Air Act, including those that allow smoking in outdoor spaces, casinos, cigar bars, cigar lounges, private clubs and restaurants. drinking places.
HB2298 was never put to the vote in the last session.
In January 2021, Representative Frankel announced his intention to reintroduce the bill during the current legislative session.
States have banned smoking in casinos
Cynthia hallett is President and Chief Executive Officer of Americans for the rights of non-smokers. The purpose of the organization is to clear the air secondhand smoke known to contain chemicals, carcinogens and other fine particles hazardous to lung and cardiovascular health.
Hallett wrote various editorials, made media appearances and reached out to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board with a clear and consistent message.
“Pennsylvania is expected to join 20 other states that have banned smoking in casinos by making the ban temporary permanent. “
According to the ANR, from May 2021, at least 1,077 American casinos and other gambling properties have 100% smoke-free indoor air policies.
“People are still coming to play,” Hallett said. “The majority of the population does not smoke. I know there is this perception that gambling and smoking go hand in hand. However, we’ve also seen in surveys that people would be more likely to go to a casino if it was smoke-free. “
Coronavirus and second-hand smoke
What Johns Hopkins Medicine Says on second-hand smoke and spread of coronavirus:
“Second-hand cigarette smoke is known to cause health problems, and although there is no scientific evidence yet that it can spread the coronavirus and cause COVID-19, at least theoretically, it is a possibility. Second-hand smoke can send viruses into the air through the nose and throat, ”said Panagis Galiatsatos, MD, MHS
Coronavirus health and safety guidelines forced casinos to see what it looked like without smoking. All PA brick and mortar casinos have designated smoking areas outside.
“COVID can be transmitted through respiratory droplets suspended in the air. The public is now acutely aware of how public health policy can protect them and the public from preventable disease. There is a wait now. People want to be able to go to an environment that they consider to be clean and safe, ”commented Hallett.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called smoke-free casinos “silver lining” of the pandemic:
Brian king from the CDC’s Office of Smoking and Health:
“If all of these casinos remain smoke-free even after Covid-19, it could have an immeasurable (impact) in terms of protecting not only the public who frequent these venues, but also the workers who work eight or more hours a day in these environments. . “
Pennsylvania casinos post record revenues
Pennsylvania casinos employ approximately 20,000 people. A investigation shows overwhelming support for the non-smoker among avid slot players.
“We know it can be done. Business and income are still good even at reduced capacity, ”said Hallett. “We know that people will come and play and that employees will have a healthier work environment. It’s a win-win.
For the second consecutive month, Pennsylvania casino revenue overcome $ 400 million according to a report by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. Pennsylvania is one of the few states, so far, to offer iGaming. However, brick and mortar casinos, across table games and slot machines, contributed the majority of the income. In March and April, the Pennsylvania casinos operated at reduced capacity. Most PA casinos did not resume gambling hall beverage service until April.
- PA Casino Slots and Table Games April Revenue: $ 279.2 million
- Percentage of total PA games revenue: 69%
- March turnover on slot machines and table games at PA casinos: $ 270.6 million
- Percentage of total PA games revenue:67%
“People who smoke will come back inside,” Hallett said. “I understand that we have to be in the period of economic recovery and we fully support it. These casinos are smoke free and do well with limited capacity. I believe they will continue to do well as they increase their capacity and people come back. “
“A cultural change”
Hallett has worked in tobacco control and public policy for over 30 years. She remembers when airlines pushed back on the ban on smoking. And when bars thought they would go bankrupt if they went smoke-free.
“It’s just a cultural change. It will protect public health and it can work, ”Hallett said of casinos that have adopted a permanent smoking ban. “Regarding people who smoke, I understand. All we ask is that they take it out and smoke in a way that does not harm others when it comes to secondhand smoke and the possibility of spreading colds and viruses through respiratory droplets. “
What about aeration?
Casinos praise their state of the art ventilation systems. However, don’t let him fall asleep in a false sense of security.
Chris Pritsos, director of the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station at the University of Nevada and author of several studies on second-hand smoke in casinos commented on:
“The particle size of the constituents in smoke is so small that these air filters do nothing. They could bring it down by around 10%, but that doesn’t stop the harmful effects. “
Please do not smoke
In 2005, Aaron Eckhart starred as Nick Naylor, Big Tobacco’s star spokesperson in Thank you for smoking.
Hallett read the book and saw the movie.
Eckhart, as Naylor, takes on the role of the handsome, charming and gentle spokesperson who aims to make you forget that he works for big tobacco or that cigarettes are deadly.
If they make a sequel, Hallett is expected to star alongside Naylor. She won’t back out of a fight or people who might complain that smoking and slots go hand in hand.
“We now have a Federal Court ruling that the tobacco industry was found to be racketeers who lied to the public about cigarette addiction,” Hallett said. “They lied to the public about the dangers of second-hand smoke and targeted children to start smoking. It’s an industry that knowingly and willfully made a very addicting product and lied to people about it. “
When electronic cigarettes came out, some felt that the ANR was zealous since they were not combustible tobacco and it was just vapor without nicotine.
“Now we have the information that Juul lied about the nicotine in the vaping liquid and targeting children,” Hallett said.
Main image credit: AP Photo / Wayne Parry