Risk of Exposure to Second Hand Smoke for Adolescents in Las Vegas Casinos: An Evaluation of the Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act

Article excerpt


In 2006 the voter-initiated Nevada Clean Indoor Air Act (NCIAA) was passed, prohibiting smoking in most indoor places. The law banned smoking in childcare facilities, movie theaters, arcades, public places, retail establishments, grocery stores, indoor areas of restaurants, and school property. The exceptions to this smoking ban were: casino gaming areas, standalone bars and taverns, strip clubs and brothels, and tobacco stores (Nevada Revised Statutes [NRS] 202.2483).

Nevada's law defines a casino as an entity that has a room devoted to gambling games or wagering and possesses a non-restricted gaming license. This makes the NCIAA unique in that casinos are found in restaurants, bars and taverns, grocery stores and convenience stores that operate gaming machines. Establishments operating fewer than 15 machines operate under "restricted" gaming licenses, while those with 15 or more, and/or with multiple gaming activities, operate under "non-restricted" licenses (NRS 463.0189).

Since the ground levels of many casinos consist of a combination of gaming, dining, and entertainment venues, the NCIAA has made for a mixture of smoking and nonsmoking zones within Nevadan casinos. Figure 1, an actual floor map of a neighborhood casino in Las Vegas, provides an example of the intermingling of smoking and nonsmoking zones. Borrowing from the terminology used by Lee et al. (2009), the NCIAA is in essence a "partial smoke-free law." In contrast, Lee defines "comprehensive smoke-free laws" as those that ban smoking in all indoor places. Like most policy evaluation studies, our research team was motivated by questions concerning efficacy; more specifically, the question of how effective Nevada's partial smoke-free laws are in preserving the air quality of designated nonsmoking zones within casinos.


As a follow-up to our initial study investigating the levels of Particle Matter 2.5 microns ([PM.sub.2.5]) among 16 Las Vegas casino gaming areas and food venues, this study turned its focus towards a specific demographic: children. Despite the inherently adult nature of casinos, a number of on- and off-strip casinos in Las Vegas have made targeted attempts to cater to younger audiences as well. Common attractions in these casinos are: bowling alleys, multi-screen cinemas, arcades, and food-courts. Although these types of "children-friendly" attractions are enforced non-smoking areas of the casinos, compliant with the NCIAA, they are often located adjacent to smoke-ridden casino gaming areas. Given the body of research documenting the effects of smoke drift on nearby nonsmoking zones (York & Lee, 2010; Brennan, 2009) and ineffectiveness of partial smoke-free laws (Lee et al., 2009), our research team focused its attention on the potential for excessive SHS exposure to children in nonsmoking areas of casinos. The purpose of this study was to: a) assess the [PM.sub.2.5] concentrations in 15 Las Vegas casino gaming areas and b) compare the [PM.sub.2.5] levels in casino gaming areas to attached nonsmoking children zones. Our hypotheses were: a) [PM.sub.2.5] concentrations in gaming areas would tend to positively correlate with nonsmoking children zones, and b) current NCIAA regulations fail to adequately protect children and gaming employees from harmful SHS exposure as defined by EPA exposure guidelines (2006).


The health risks associated with SHS exposure are well documented and severe. Made up of a combination of gases and fine particles, SHS is emitted from burning tobacco products and smoke that has been exhaled by smokers. There are 250 known toxic chemicals in SHS, of which at least 50 are known to be carcinogenic (National Toxicology Program [NTP], 2005). Exposure to SHS is responsible for an estimated 46,000 heart disease deaths and 3,400 lung cancer deaths annually among nonsmoking adults in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2008). …