New Medical Study: Ambulance Rates Plummet When Casinos Go Smokefree


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 Cynthia Hallett, MPH, Executive Director,
(510) 841-3045 (office)

New Medical Study: Ambulance Rates Plummet When Casinos Go Smokefree

Americans For Nonsmokers’ Rights: “This study once again confirms the immediate life-saving benefits of smokefree worksites, including casinos.”

 AUGUST 5, 2013 – Berkeley, California – A trailblazing new health study published today by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) in the scientific journal Circulation, found a 20 percent reduction in ambulance calls to casinos following the implementation of Colorado’s smokefree law.

“The UCSF study confirms the life-saving benefits of smokefree worksites including casinos,” said Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers Rights (ANR), the nation’s premier advocacy group for smokefree indoor air. “Currently, 20 states include state-regulated commercial casinos in smokefree workplace laws. While this is encouraging, nearly 90% of these casino workers are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their workplaces. This study is a wake-up call to all policy makers – whether state, local or tribal – to adopt smokefree protections for their workers and customers in casinos.”

UCSF Professor of Medicine, Stanton Glantz, PhD, authored the study, “Changes in Ambulance Calls After Implementation of a Smoke-Free Law and Its Extension to Casinos.” Glantz tracked ambulance calls originating from the gambling towns of Black Hawk and Central City, the only gambling district in Colorado, which covers a roughly 3-square-mile area.

“The numbers paint a clear and troubling picture,” said Glantz, lead author and the author of numerous studies on the health impacts of exposure to tobacco smoke. “Smokefree casinos reduce the acute effects of secondhand smoke exposure while in the casinos. Our results indicate that exempting casinos from smokefree laws is sending people to the hospital and increasing costs to the state.”

“I knew that Colorado needed to protect all of its workers, including those in casinos, so I fought hard to add casinos to Colorado’s Smokefree Workplace law,” said Ken Gordon, the former Colorado state senator, who authored the original Colorado statewide smokefree law. The law went into effect July 1, 2006, but casinos were exempted until January 1, 2008. “Business has been great, and patrons and employees love the smokefree environment.”

“These new findings affirm that going smokefree was the right thing to do for employee and patron health,” Gordon said.

Key Points in the Colorado Ambulance Study:

  • When Colorado’s law making all workplaces and public places except casinos smokefree, ambulance calls originating from everywhere but casinos dropped 20 percent; calls from casinos did not change.
  • Two years later, when the Colorado law was extended to include casinos, ambulance calls originating from casinos dropped by 20% immediately following implementation.
  • Funded by the National Cancer Institute, the UCSF study is the first of its kind to link the occurrence of medical emergencies to the implementation of smokefree air laws in casinos.
  • The study shows that smokefree casinos “reduce the acute affects of secondhand smoke exposure and acute effects of smokers no longer smoking while in the casinos.”
  • Smokefree casinos prevent medical emergencies for employees and patrons and save taxpayer dollars.
  • In casinos that allow smoking, casino employees and patrons are at grave risk of suffering cardiac, respiratory and vascular emergencies.
  • The report states that, “exempting casinos from smokefree laws means that more people will suffer medical emergencies as a result.”

“We have known for a long time the life-saving difference between a smoke-filled environment and a 100% smokefree environment,” said Hallett of ANR. “The new study amplifies the urgency for establishing these public health protections for all workers and patrons, including the casino workers, and adds to the numerous health studies that have shown the acute effects of secondhand smoke exposure.”


Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights is a national, member-based, not-for-profit organization based in Berkeley, CA that is dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree air in enclosed public places and workplaces and exposing tobacco industry and allied interference.

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