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Proposed Smoking Ban in Kansas Casinos Stirs Debate

Explore the proposed smoking ban in Kansas casinos through the lens of CEASE advocacy, industry pushback, and the complex interplay of public health and socioeconomic factors. Discover the potential implications for casino workers, patrons, and the broader legislative landscape.
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Harrah's Kansas City

Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: Feb 2, 2024

Proposed Smoking Ban in Kansas Casinos Stirs Debate

House Bill 2622 has been introduced in Kansas, aiming to amend the state's Indoor Clean Air Act, specifically targeting the exemption granted to commercial casinos since 2010. The bill, sponsored by Reps. Owen Donohoe, David Buehler, Sydney Carlin, Ford Carr, and Dennis Highberger, seeks to eliminate indoor smoking from the gaming spaces of Boot Hill, Kansas Star, Hollywood, and Kansas Crossing casinos.

 

Key Points

  • House Bill 2622 aims to end indoor smoking exemption in Kansas casinos.
  • CEASE and casino workers support the bill, prioritizing health and well-being.
  • Casino operators argue indoor smoking is vital for gaming success.
  • Proposed legislation challenges the gaming floor exemption, prompting operational concerns.

 

Growing Advocacy: CEASE and Casino Workers Speak Out

The exemption for casinos, allowing indoor smoking, has long been a contentious issue. Critics argue that despite designated smoke-free areas, casino ventilation systems may not adequately protect patrons and employees from the dangers of secondhand smoke. Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE), a grassroots coalition originating in Atlantic City, has expanded its efforts to Kansas, welcoming the introduction of HB 2622.

 CEASE, now active in various states, including Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia, has found a strong voice in Kansas casino workers like Joe Hafley, the CEASE Kansas leader and a security officer at Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway.

Hafley emphasizes the significance of prioritizing the health and well-being of casino workers, stating,  The sentiment underscores a frequent CEASE assertion that casino workers shouldn't have to choose between their health and a paycheck. As the bill moves to the House Committee on Health and Human Services for review, the casino industry faces a rising tide of advocacy calling for a reevaluation of the smoking exemption.

 

“It’s not just about the cards, slots, and profits — this bill is a beacon of hope for the hardworking people in our industry, signaling that our health and well-being matter.”

 

Industry Pushback: Economic Concerns and Operational Impact

However, the proposed smoking ban has encountered resistance from casino operators who argue that indoor smoking is integral to the success of their gaming operations. They contend that forcing smokers outside could disrupt their play and potentially result in fewer casino visits. The debate hinges on a delicate balance between health concerns and economic interests. The legislative push to strike specific language from the Indoor Clean Act, removing the exemption for the “gaming floor of a lottery gaming facility or racetrack gaming facility,” sets the stage for a contentious discussion in the coming weeks. For more updates from the Kansas Online Casinos make sure you visit our other pages.

 

Public Health and Socioeconomic Dimensions: A Complex Challenge

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate the national smoking rate at approximately 11.5% of the adult population. Kansas, however, surpasses this average with an estimated smoking rate of 16%. The state's Department of Health and Environment notes higher smoking rates among lower-income households, introducing a socioeconomic dimension to the smoking issue.

As the legislative process unfolds, stakeholders in the casino industry and public health advocates prepare for a multifaceted debate, considering not only the potential health impacts but also the socioeconomic factors influencing smoking patterns in the state. The outcome of this legislative endeavor may reshape the landscape for both Kansas casinos and the broader discussion around indoor smoking regulations.

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