Smoking Policies In Nevada Casinos Now Facing Shareholders Scrutiny 

Erik Gibbs

A smoldering cigarette broken in half

The landscape of smoking policies in casinos is undergoing significant scrutiny and potential change, while the smoking lamp is still lit in Nevada’s gaming properties. That could soon change, though, as shareholders of major gaming companies are set to vote on proposals that could lead to the prohibition of smoking in their establishments.

Caesars Entertainment, Boyd Gaming, and Bally’s Corp will let shareholders weigh in on whether their Nevada casinos should be smoke-free over the next couple of months, according to The Nevada Independent. The shareholders will vote on whether to call for a study on the financial impacts of implementing a smoke-free policy in their casinos.

This movement is not isolated; it reflects a broader shift in societal attitudes towards smoking in public spaces, particularly in workplaces. In Nevada, as in other states, the debate over smoking in casinos has been a contentious issue. The state’s laws currently allow smoking in designated areas within casinos, despite the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act prohibiting smoking in most other indoor spaces. 

The fact that Caesars, Boyd and Bally’s will hold the votes doesn’t reflect the operators’ position. They all have expressed opposition to the proposal, arguing that such decisions should be left to company management.

They have also asserted that a smoking ban could place them at a competitive disadvantage. This stance is rooted in the belief that the presence of smoking areas is a significant draw for a portion of their clientele and that prohibiting smoking could potentially lead to a loss of customers who prefer gaming environments where smoking is permitted.

No one avoids casino smoke

The University of Nevada, Reno recently conducted a study revealing that secondhand smoke in indoor casino areas can be up to 18 times more harmful than outdoor levels. The study, published in the Environmental Analysis Health and Toxicology Journal, underscores the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure in environments where smoking is permitted. 

The research, led by Associate Professor Eric Crosbie, found that even in areas designated as non-smoking, such as arcades and restaurants within casinos, unsafe levels of secondhand smoke were present. This is attributed to the fact that ventilation systems are ineffective at eliminating the drift of smoke into non-smoking zones.

The implications of these findings are far-reaching, suggesting that the only way to fully protect individuals from the dangers of secondhand smoke is to implement a complete ban on smoking in all indoor areas. The study calls for immediate policy changes to safeguard the health of minors, casino employees, and other vulnerable groups who might be exposed to unhealthy air quality during their time in casinos.

Smoking bans gain support

The push for change has been bolstered by the Nevada Tobacco Control and Smoke-free Coalition, which advocates for the elimination of exposure to secondhand smoke. The coalition’s recent survey indicated a strong public support for smoke-free workplaces, with nearly 60% of polled Nevada voters favoring such regulations for all workplaces, including casinos. 

This sentiment is echoed in the ongoing legal battles in Atlantic City, where efforts to ban smoking in casinos have seen renewed vigor. Workers and unions have been actively campaigning, and a lawsuit has been filed challenging New Jersey’s clean indoor air law that exempts casino workers from its protections. 

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has said more than once that he would sign off on legislation that bans smoking in Atlantic City casinos. With his second consecutive term expiring next year, it still remains to be seen whether he’ll get that chance.