In 2008, the Clean Indoor Air Act was established in Pennsylvania which prohibits smoking in public places. The only exception is casinos, bars and private clubs. This year, a bill was introduced to remove the exceptions and ban smoking in all public places. House Bill 2298 was introduced by Representative Dan Frankel in the hopes of doing away with smoking areas of casinos.
Moving the Bill Forward
The bill was placed in the Health Committee in late February and now an additional 13 sponsors have signed on in support. The measure would ban smoking at the exempted venues along with vaping. According to Frankel, the loophole for such establishments as the casinos allows workers and sports fans to get sick.
The bill will now be subject to a discussion within the House Health Committee with the possibility to move forward. With so much support already, it would not be surprising to see the measure gain ground.
In the state’s casinos, 50% of the space can be dedicated to smoking. The state has 12 venues already and a 13th will open by the end of the year. Satellite casinos are also in the mix with more to come. Most of these facilities have some type of air filtration system to assist with the smoke but there is no physical barrier like walls that separate the smoking spaces from the non-smoking areas.
The driving force behind the full-on smoking ban is health concerns. Due to the number of smoking venues in the state, the American Lung Association gave Pennsylvania a D grade level. The Center for Disease Control has their opinion as well and point out that exposure to second hand smoke increases for casino employees and guests of the facility due to the number of smoking areas.
Apparently, a casino has a higher level of smoking than other public places that are enclosed. According to the CDC, a study was conducted on the matter and revealed that around 50% of the casinos surveyed had levels of air pollution that could cause cardiovascular disease after only being exposed for two hours.
Any exposure to secondhand smoke is dangerous. In a casino situation, it can be difficult to get away from the smell or the actual smoke. The only way to protect those who do not smoke is to offer a full smoke-free environment.
With today’s health standards changing and more support for the smoking ban bill, it would not be surprising to see the measure move forward. Casinos are seemingly worried about the legislation as it might cut in to their profit margin with less smokers on-site. However, it might also open up the venues to players who do not want to be around smokers.
We shall see in the coming weeks if the Health Committee moves the bill forward and if it manages to gain any significant headway. If so, the casinos may soon have to make serious changes when it comes to smoking on-site.