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Study: majority of Washoe residents in favor of expanding smoke-free laws

Published: Oct. 7, 2020 at 10:17 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Cigarettes and gambling have gone hand in hand for decades. Now, a push for cleaner air in Washoe County casinos and bars is creating conversation.

In 2006, the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act banned smoking in most public places, with the exception of casino gaming floors and stand-alone bars.

A research project recently published by the Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy, indicating that 60% of Washoe County residents would favor a law prohibiting smoking in all casinos in Washoe County. Slightly more, 63% favor a law prohibiting smoking in bars.

Dr. Eric Crosbie is a Political Scientist and Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno’s School of Community Health Sciences. He led the study “Expanding smoke-free communities: attitudes and beliefs surrounding smoke-free casinos and bars in Washoe County.” He says non-smokers aren’t the only people in favor of the idea behind moving toward cleaner environments.

“There was only less than 25% of smokers that were actually opposed to a smoke-free law,” Crosbie said.

The study suggests that secondhand smoke creates a number of risks for customers and workers.

Crosbie added, “Bars have bartenders that are exposed to secondhand smoke and in casinos, there are a lot of table card dealers who have never smoked a day in their lives that are exposed.”

Research also shows 77% of locals do not like smelling like smoke after visiting a casino or bar, and that a majority would be more likely to visit either establishment and enjoy it if smoking was not allowed.

“We have written to the Nevada Gaming Division to see if they would reopen some of the casinos smoke-free in the state, they chose not to but we are seeing some casinos that are trying to promote smoke-free areas,” Crosbie said.

KOLO 8 News Now reached out to several casinos in Reno and Sparks to get their perspective. We did not hear back from THE ROW, Peppermill, or Nugget. The Atlantis and GSR both declined to comment.

Crosbie added, “It’s not a question of if this will happen, because there have been casinos throughout the united states that have gone smoke-free, but it’s a question of when.”

The Ponderosa in Reno was the first casino in Nevada to ban smoking in its building. Park MGM reopened last week due to the Coronavirus. It’s now the first smoke-free casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Click here to see the Washoe County research project in its entirety.

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