The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the study titled, “What happens in Vegas, stays in your lungs: an assessment of fine particulate matter in casinos that prohibit and allow smoking in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA,” which compares the air quality in the non-smoking Park MGM casino, to other casinos that permit smoking.
New Study Advocates for Complete Ban on Smoking in Casinos
The Park MGM casino has been smoke-free since reopening in September 2020, following a six-month shutdown of the Las Vegas Strip due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The study released by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims to be the first of its kind, examining air quality and comparing results with other similar casinos that permit smoking.
Authors of the study, Michael A. Tynan, Martin A. Cohen, and Jeffrey R. Harris used a real-time personal aerosol monitor to assess particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 µm (PM2.5), a surrogate for secondhand smoke. Each of the casinos, which were part of the research, was visited two times for measurements.
The results of the study indicated that PM2.5 levels were significantly higher in casinos that permit smoking, in both gaming areas and areas where smoking is prohibited. The average PM2.5 in gaming areas in smoking casinos was 5.4 times higher at 164.9 µg/m3, compared to the smoke-free casino’s level of 30.5 µg/m3.
The average PM2.5 in areas where smoking is otherwise prohibited was 83.2 µg/m3 in smoking casinos, and 48.1 µg/m3 in the smoke-free casino.
Based on the research findings, it is evident that despite the substantial proof of the hazardous impact of secondhand smoke, there is an alarming number of casino workers and tourists in Las Vegas who are continually exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke annually. As such, it is clear that the best course of action to shield individuals from the adverse effects of secondhand smoke is by implementing a complete ban on smoking within all indoor spaces.
New Jersey May Pave the Way for Complete Smoking Banks on Casinos across the US
There is growing support for a full smoking prohibition in casinos, and some states may be moving towards enacting legislation to implement such a ban.
On February 13, a New Jersey Senate committee held the state’s inaugural hearing on a bill that seeks to outlaw smoking on gaming floors in Atlantic City. Likewise, in Pennsylvania, a comparable proposition that failed to gain traction in earlier legislative sessions is anticipated to pass, according to a proponent.
The casino industry’s argument that smoking prohibitions result in job losses, reduced profits, and lower tax revenues for states and municipalities have been debunked by a declining number of smokers across the country and impressive gaming revenue following COVID-19 closures.
If the New Jersey exemption is revoked, it would have a significant impact, as the state has a history of setting trends for the US gaming industry. It was the first to regulate casinos outside Nevada, authorize online casinos, and win a lawsuit that opened up full-fledged sports betting to all states.
Although twenty states and three Louisiana cities have banned smoking in commercial gaming establishments, so far Colorado is the sole state that has eliminated the gaming-floor exemption from its clean-indoor-air statute.