More than 200 commercial and tribal casinos have reopened smoke free during the pandemic, including every casino in New Jersey, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday.
Before Covid-19, this kind of public health momentum in casinos would not have been possible, Brian King of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health said during the CDC’s weekly partner call.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in an increase in smoke-free casino adoption, which is certainly a silver lining in the context of the pandemic,” King said.
All casinos in New Jersey, which includes Atlantic City, have adopted smoke-free policies, King said.
“Seeing that implementation of a broad public health policy in this environment at the state level of a major hub for gambling and casinos is very important,” King said. “It’s definitely a public health win and shows an added benefit of not only protecting workers but also patrons.”
The benefits of smoke-free policies go beyond reducing secondhand smoke exposure, which has been shown to increase risk of stroke, lung cancer and heart attack in adults. Smoke-free policies also encourage more people to stop smoking and keep people from starting at all, King said.
The question remains if these casinos will remain smoke-free when other restrictions ease and more people become vaccinated.
“If all these casinos remain smoke free even post Covid-19, this could have an immeasurable in terms of not only protecting the public who attend these venues, but also workers who are working eight hours or more per day in these environments” King said.