Pennsylvania casinos sweating on proposed indoor smoking ban
Pennsylvania casinos could be smoke-free in the near future, as the state legislature is set to revisit a loophole in its Clean Indoor Air Act.
State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny County) has promised to make another push for the complete ban of indoor smoking in casinos this year. Frankel proposed the bill last year, but it met a standstill.
In 2008, the state of Pennsylvania passed the Clean Indoor Air Act, which placed a complete ban on indoor smoking in public places. However, it made an exemption for casino facilities, clubs, and cigar lounges. The law also permitted authorized operators to designate about 50 percent of their gaming floor for smoking.
This measure has led to much outcry from casino employees about how much tobacco smoke they inhale every day. The Frankel bill is aimed at revoking this exemption.
The Pennsylvania casino industry is sweating on the proposed smoking ban, as it could have a major impact on gaming revenue due to a potential drop in patronage. Gambling operators now face a tug-of-war with government officials and casino employees, who are pushing for a complete ban on indoor smoking for reasons of health.
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Frankel added that the fear of casino owners is irrational, as he stated that research has revealed that a smoke-free environment will only entice more customers rather than discourage them. He made a reference to the period where smoking was temporarily banned in casinos due to COVID-19. Frankel said despite the restrictions, their revenue numbers still did well.
“While the number of smokers has sunk, we’ve also concentrated the health risks of secondhand smoke to a few remaining, unprotected workplaces,” Frankel wrote.
“Casinos, private clubs, and some drinking establishments expose their workers to untenable health risks by taking advantage of loopholes in our Clean Indoor Air Act. Pennsylvanians should not have to choose between their jobs and their health.
“That’s why I’ll soon be reintroducing my legislation to close the loopholes that threaten the health of Pennsylvania workers.”
Frankel also disclosed that his bill will focus on conceptual clarity; he will be addressing the definition of electronic cigarettes and vapes and ensuring that all of it is banned.
Other casino industries that are facing total smoking bans are New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Virginia.