Over 200 casinos reopened smoke-free during the pandemic, and CDC officials think that’s a positive side effect. But how long will casinos stay smoke-free?
After the pandemic lockdown of casinos ended last summer, they reopened with new safety rules and restrictions. And a smoking ban was one of them. Banning smoking indoors was part of an effort to sanitize the air to combat coronavirus.
According to Dr. Brian King, the deputy director for research in the CDC Office on Smoking and Health, the casino smoking ban is an unexpected positive result of the pandemic. The non-smoking measure has other effects beyond curbing the coronavirus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in smoke-free casino adoption, which is certainly a silver lining in the context of the pandemic,” Dr. King said.
“If all these casinos remain smoke-free post-COVID-19, this could have an immeasurable impact in terms of not only protecting the public who attend these venues, but also workers who are working eight hours or more per day in these environments,” Dr. King explained.
Smoking has declined dramatically in the U.S. over the past few decades. Currently, 14% of U.S. adults are smokers. Links to lung and heart disease in medical studies plus steady public health warnings have influenced smoking rates.
Nevada casinos continue to permit smoking, although some casinos are bucking the trend and going smoke free. New Jersey and Pennsylvania have banned indoor tobacco smoking, and more states with casinos are following suit.
Tribal casinos do not have to follow state rules on their premises, but many have decided to make their casinos smoke-free anyway. Meanwhile, many other commercial casinos have designated smoking spaces within their resort spaces to keep smokers and non-smokers happy.
Most U.S. states have a general ban on smoking in restaurants and other establishments, but casinos have always allowed smoking to some degree. Casino owners see a correlation between smoking and gambling, so they allow it to keep their regular customers happy.
Even though smoking is on the decline, gamblers who smoke often generate more revenue for the casino than non-smokers.
Casinos have an uphill battle to recover from the pandemic. While the forecast for casino recovery is positive, it remains to be seen if casinos will remain smoke-free after the pandemic.
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