Kansas is getting closer to ending its casino exemption to the indoor smoking ban. The Senate passed an amended bill on Tuesday prohibiting indoor smoking in Kansas casinos.
As the supplemental note on Senate Substitute for House Bill 2058 says:
“It would also remove the exemption in the Kansas Indoor Clean Air Act for the gaming floors of lottery gaming facilities or racetrack gaming facilities.”
But before the Senate Substitute for HB2058 heads to Gov. Laura Kelly, the House of Representatives needs to agree with amendments.
Casino smoking ban exemption in Kansas has been a target before
More than a decade ago, Kansas lawmakers adopted an extensive prohibition on smoking inside buildings accessible to the public. The prohibition specifically exempted Kansas casinos in Dodge City, Mulvane and Kansas City.
Health advocates and casino executives vented about a bill repealing an exemption held by casinos from the indoor smoking ban. But the concern was that the Statehouse review of this exception could initiate a messy discussion on many gambling and tobacco policies.
The statute allows smoking on casino floors but bans tobacco consumption in restaurants, bars and other casino areas. No smoking is allowed in areas of these casinos, separate from slot machines and table games.
At the time, Tracy Russell of the American Lung Association commented:
“Legislative champions of a statewide, smoke-free law compromised on the provision to gain support for a law that would cover most Kansas workers and customers. While we never supported the exemption (for casinos) we did support the bill as a significant step in achieving a healthier environment for most Kansans.”
Casino executives, on the other hand, argued that a smoking ban could reduce overall revenue. Back then, Richard Klemp, spokesman for the Kansas Star Casino in Mulvane, said:
“Allowing smoking on the casino floor is a material factor in revenue performance to the Kansas Lottery, who owns and operates all of the gambling games at the Kansas Star.”
CEASE demanded a full smoking ban for NJ casinos by April
Kansas casinos are not the only ones exempted from smoke-free indoor air laws. Such examples also exist in states like:
- Iowa (on the gaming floors)
- Michigan (in the gaming areas)
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
Atlantic City has been the largest smoking haven for New Jersey casino players. But that may not last forever. Three months ago, Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) pressed New Jersey politicians to ban smoking in casinos by Apr. 15.
CEASE released a video in January demanding the removing the only loophole in New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act.