The American Lung Association is calling on Indiana's 13 commercial casinos to permanently prohibit smoking in their facilities, after a public opinion poll found nearly two-thirds of Hoosiers support a casino smoking ban.
The July 8-16 online survey of 600 randomly selected registered Indiana voters showed 65% favor a prohibition on smoking and vaping inside casinos.
Casinos are among the few facilities exempt from Indiana's indoor smoking ban. Though the Indiana Gaming Commission recently directed casinos to limit smoking areas to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.
Nick Torres, Lung Association advocacy director, said Indiana casinos should take the next step and ban smoking altogether, since that's what a majority of Indiana residents want and Hoosiers are prepared to support casinos that go smoke free.
"Indiana's weak smoke free air law leaves bar and casino workers at risk of secondhand smoke exposure," Torres said. "Smoke free environments protect the health of workers and customers from dangerous secondhand smoke and e-cigarette emissions."
According to the poll, 51% of respondents who say they gamble at casinos once or twice a year would be more likely to visit more often if casinos were smoke free.
In addition, 71% agreed a smoke-free casino would be a more pleasant experience for customers, and 79% said casinos without smoking would be cleaner and safer for customers and workers.
"Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and heart disease and worsens existing health conditions including asthma and COPD. Everyone deserves the chance to lead a healthy life, and that means having a safe work environment free from the health harms associated with secondhand smoke," Torres said.
"In Illinois and Ohio, casino workers are protected from secondhand smoke by law. Michigan has also taken strong steps to reopen all casinos smoke free as part of COVID-19 precautions. Indiana should strive for the same workplace protections as our neighboring states."
Indiana has one of the highest smoking rates in the country with more than 1 in 5 Hoosiers regularly lighting up, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A 2009 study by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis found Illinois gaming revenue declined by 20% to 22%, or a total of $400 million, after the state in 2008 applied its indoor smoking ban to casinos.