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New State Legislation Targets Smoking in Pennsylvania Casinos - PennsylvaniaCasinos.com News : PennsylvaniaCasinos.com News
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For the second year in a row, Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Frankel (D-Allegheny) has spoken out against allowing smoking exemptions at some companies, such as casinos. He has submitted a bill in Harrisburg, the state capital, that would make it illegal to smoke inside casinos and other businesses that are now excluded from the law.

Some Background

In 2008, Pennsylvania passed the Clean Indoor Air Act, which made it illegal to smoke inside most public and private buildings. However, establishments where alcohol sales are the primary source of income (such as casinos, cigar bars, private clubs, and bars) were exempted.

Pennsylvania houses 18 brick-and-mortar casinos, with only Parx Casino in Bensalem and Rivers Casino Philadelphia being entirely smoke-free. The others have designated smoking sections on their gaming floors.

Now, Frankel is worried about the health of casino employees who are constantly exposed to secondhand smoke. He made the point that Pennsylvanians should not have to choose between their careers and their health. These establishments have not unilaterally outlawed smoking despite mounting evidence that smoke-free zones bring in more rather than fewer customers.

The Reactions

Although casinos in Pennsylvania are only allowed to have smoking areas on half of their gaming floors, health officials say that secondhand smoke still permeates sections that are meant to be smoke-free.

“Despite robust evidence about the harms of secondhand smoke, tens of thousands of casino employees and tens of millions of tourists are exposed to high levels of secondhand smoke in Las Vegas casinos annually. The only way to protect people from secondhand smoke exposure is to prohibit smoking in all indoor areas.”

Office on Smoking & Health Policy Team Lead Michael Tynan.

House Bill 1657 seeks to amend the Clean Indoor Air Act by removing provisions that permit casinos, businesses, and clubs to allow indoor smoking. It has been referred to the House Health Committee, which Frankel chairs. The committee is scheduled to convene on Wednesday, September 20, to review the smoking bill.

The idea was well-received by many employees of Pennsylvania’s casinos who value a smoke-free environment. Members of CEASE (Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects) in the state of Pennsylvania have also voiced their appreciation for the measure, saying it has the potential to save lives.

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