Tribal Leaders Approve Indoor Smoking Ban at Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos
- The smoking ban is now permanent after Tribal Council approval.
- North Carolina already bans smoking in other indoor facilities such as restaurants.
- Guests seem to be on both sides, some wanting the ability to smoke while others are happy with the change.
Smoking inside a casino is nothing new. Gaming facilities have allowed smoking for decades, despite legal changes to ban the activity in other venues such as bars and restaurants.
Over the past few years though, efforts are popping up across the United States as a way to ban the activity for health purposes. In North Carolina, Harrah’s casinos in Cherokee recently saw the local Tribal Council agree to ban smoking permanently. The ban comes shortly after smoking was temporarily banned due to COVID-19.
Creating a Smoke-Free Environment
For many years, the Harrah’s casinos in Cherokee have offered smoking. When the pandemic started in March 2020, a temporary ban was put in place due to the contagious nature of the virus. The thought was that if people were smoking inside, then the virus had more opportunity to spread.
Now that the casinos are fully operational, the decision was made to ban smoking as a way to ensure guest and employee health. Cherokee secretary of Public Health and Human Services, Vickie Bradley, commented that from a public health standpoint, there is excitement and happiness connected to the vote.
According to Bradley, research shows that more than 16 million people live with a smoking related illness each year. Deaths are also attributed to smoking but thankfully, around 85% of the population is now smoke-free. She stated further that research shows 75% of the patrons would rather enjoy casino gaming in a smoke-free facility.
In a statement, Harrah’s Cherokee Casinos said that they had received feedback from guests that would prefer to gamble in a smoke-free environment. The casino operator anticipates the facility will be impacted by the decision, but what will occur is anyone’s guess.
Smokers Say They Will Go Elsewhere
Of course, there are those who do not agree with the ban. Players who want to smoke say they will probably go to venues in neighboring states to play casino games. If that is the case, the Cherokee venues may see a loss in revenue, but hopefully it won’t be enough to make a difference.
An amendment was added to the decision so that dedicated smoking sections could be set up within the casino property. Reverse air handlers would be used to make the space safe and secure for guests to avoid the smoke areas.
Employees would also be able to volunteer to work in the space only if they feel comfortable. The casino feels that the decision is progressive for the public health model.