GROWING TREND FOR SMOKEFREE INDOOR AIR
In the gaming industry, it’s said that change is the only constant – from game preferences and casino design to the growing focus on Millennials (which are now one-third of the U.S. population). Another major change underway for the gaming sector is the trend for smokefree indoor air casinos.
Today, more than 87% of the U.S. adult population are nonsmokers – a big shift from just a decade ago. There is now more awareness of the health hazards of secondhand smoke –including cancer, heart disease, heart attacks, asthma, COPD.
Generations past might have associated indoor smoking with restaurants, bars, offices, airplanes – and casinos. Much has changed. Young adults today have largely grown up in smokefree environments and expect clean air in workplaces and public places. Millennial smoking rates are the lowest of any modern generation – as low as 7% in some states. Plus, many smokers don’t want to breathe other people’s smoke and don’t mind stepping outside to a smoking patio to light up.
Not surprisingly, more cities, states, and sovereign Tribal governments are taking steps to implement 100% smokefree indoor air environment for all workplaces and facilities –including casinos – as a way to improve the health of a community and its workforce. After all, it is about people’s lives.
Approximately 800 gambling venues across the U.S. have either opened with or transitioned to a 100% smokefree indoor air policy – and even more are on the way. Smokefree air is already a normal part of the casino entertainment and job experience in many markets. Twenty states require all commercial (state-regulated) gaming facilities to be smokefree indoors, plus US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.
There are many valuable lessons learned for how to make going smokefree indoors a smooth process.
One example is conducting player club surveys to understand the perceptions of current players as well the potential to bring in new gaming customers and growing non-gaming revenue streams too.
Another consideration is the design and placement of outdoor smoking areas located off the gaming floors. People get up from table games or slots to use the restrooms, to eat, to go to nightclubs, or to do other things. Stepping outside to a smoking deck for a couple of minutes isn’t a big deal for someone wanting to light up. When opening a new property or making renovations, that can be a good time to make the switch to 100% smokefree indoor air.
Indoors, it’s shared air. The science is clear that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Even brief or low levels of exposure cause significant health risks. Health agencies like the CDC and the U.S. Surgeon General (and even the HVAC standard setting body ASHRAE) affirm that smoking sections, smoking rooms, and even sophisticated casino ventilation systems and air cleaning technologies do not address the health hazards of secondhand smoke.