New Study: Ambulance Calls Fall… | Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
sign up

New Study: Ambulance Calls Fall After Casinos Go Smoke-Free

August 06, 2013


Casinos are often exempt from smoke-free workplace laws, putting employees and customers at risk of heart disease, lung cancer and other serious diseases caused by secondhand smoke. A new study, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, found that casinos can enjoy immediate and significant health benefits when they go smoke-free.

The study found that after smoking was prohibited from Colorado casinos in 2008, ambulance calls to casinos in Gilpin County – which has a large concentration of casinos – dropped by nearly 20 percent.

“The message to policymakers is clear: stop granting casino exemptions. They lead to a substantial number of people being sent to the hospital, often at taxpayer expense, something that is completely preventable,” said lead author Stanton Glantz, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and director of UCSF’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.

As of spring 2013, 20 states have laws that require smoke-free gambling facilities, while another 28 states have state-regulated gambling, but only partial or no smoke-free laws, Glantz said. In addition, only a few casinos on American Indian or Alaska Native soil are smoke-free.

Colorado provided a unique laboratory to isolate the impact of smoke-free laws on casinos because its law was implemented in two stages, applying in 2006 to all other workplaces and public places, including restaurants and bars, and extending to casinos in 2008. The study focused on Gilpin County, which has 26 casinos in its gaming district.

Key findings include:

  • After initial implementation of the smoke-free law in 2006, ambulance calls from locations other than casinos dropped 22.8 percent. But calls from casinos remained about the same.
  • Two years later, when the law was extended to casinos, ambulance calls from casinos fell 19.1 percent, while there was no further change at other locations.

“The fact that there were changes only at the time the law changed in both venues is strong evidence that the law is what caused the change in ambulance calls,” Glantz said.

This study is further evidence why smoke-free laws should apply to all workplaces and public places – including restaurants, bars and casinos – and protect all workers and customers. No one should have to put their health at risk in order to earn a paycheck or enjoy a night out.