Pennsylvania Casino Smoking Ban Bill Gets Local Coalition Backing

  • Breathe Free Pennsylvania Coalition supports Rep. Dan Frankel's proposed legislation
  • House Bill 2298 aims to amend the Clean Indoor Air Act of Pennsylvania
  • Casinos would initially have to keep 75% of the gaming floor smoke-free
  • Recent Vegas poll showed 72% of respondents in favor of a casino smoking ban or restrictions
two hands breaking a cigarette in two
The Breathe Free Pennsylvania Coalition is backing a bill looking to introduce a smoking ban for the state’s casinos. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A potentially permanent move

A bill to introduce a ban on smoking in Pennsylvania’s casinos is getting local support from the Breathe Free Pennsylvania Coalition. The coalition is made up of the American Heart Association, the American Cancer Association, and the American Lung Association among other health advocacy groups.

goal is to close off all current loopholes

House Bill 2298, originally proposed by Representative Dan Frankel in February, aims to amend the Clean Indoor Air Act of Pennsylvania. Its goal is to close off all current loopholes that allow the state’s casinos to autonomously decide whether to allow smoking on their premises. 

Frankel recently underlined the other benefits of a smoking ban for casinos during a virtual meeting with the Breathe Free Pennsylvania Coalition. He tweeted about some of the key areas that were discussed:

According to Frankel, “[e]xposure to second-hand smoke kills approximately 41,000 non-smokers in the U.S. every single year. It made sense before the Pandemic, but the idea of rolling back these protections once they’ve already been put in place is absolutely inconceivable.”

Conditions of the ban

The smoking ban would also cover nightclubs and bar facilities. Initially, the state’s casinos would need to ascertain that 75% of the gaming floor is smoke-free. If the revenue from the smoking area of the gaming floor is disproportionately greater than that of the non-smoking part, a casino operator could lodge an appeal to increase the size of the smoking zone. 

ascertain that 75% of the gaming floor is smoke-free

A number of casino properties across the country have temporarily banned smoking at their premises, in line with post-pandemic-lockdown policies requiring patrons to wear face masks while on-site.

The Pennsylvania Health Department currently allows casinos to operate as long as guests are not vaping or smoking, with this being a temporary measure.

A similar smoking ban bill is currently being considered by the Senate in Pennsylvania, state Rep. Frankel has said. 

Appetite for change beyond PA

The push to rethink legislation in Pennsylvania is also echoed in the results of a public poll on the matter. The results show an appetite for change in relation to smoking policies at Las Vegas casinos. More than 1,500 participants took the survey, with 72% indicating they were in favor of restricting or completely banning smoking from gambling facilities.

In Nevada, smoking indoors is deemed illegal everywhere except in casinos and certain bars. The first signs of change in the state are appearing, with indications that Park MGM might be the first casino on the Las Vegas Strip to ban smoking. The property remains closed since the COVID-19 shutdown, but photos from inside the facility show signs that say: “Let’s Clear the Air. Park MGM is smoke-free.”