Let’s be honest. Racing and gaming venues can be financially successful without endangering the health of their employees.
Last March, Owensboro’s Board of Commissioners wisely voted to indefinitely table a proposal to roll back the clock nearly a decade and pass an indoor smoking loophole for Ellis Entertainment and Churchill Downs’ proposed gaming venue. Nonetheless, pressure continues to force consideration again this evening when the board meets.
Smoke-free casinos are the new normal, as over 1,000 casinos in the U.S. are smoke-free. A 2022 report by C3 Gaming, a Las Vegas research firm, found that smoke-free casinos generated more revenue than casinos that allow smoking. Additionally, 79% of casino patrons prefer to play in a smoke-free facility, regardless of whether they smoke or not.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Ventilation systems might reduce odor, but they cannot eliminate the dangerous invading particles and toxins. Smoke migrates into adjacent rooms and buildings, putting non-smoking employees and patrons at risk of developing heart disease, lung cancer, stroke, and other illnesses.
Exemptions to smoke-free laws for one type of business can prompt costly lawsuits. In 2007, a Louisville circuit court judge ruled that an exemption allowing indoor smoking at Churchill Downs violated the equal protections provision of the Kentucky Constitution. Churchill Downs’ flagship facility in Louisville has been successful and smoke-free indoors since 2008.
For years, Owensboro has been a leader in health. Thank your city commission member for standing firm.
Dr. Alan Mullins
Kentucky State Chair Commission on Cancer