Casino Loophole In Smokefree Air Act Position Statement

Iowa Counties Public Health Association

Casino Loophole In Smokefree Air Act

Position Statement

 

Background:

Secondhand smoke is a serious health hazard that causes lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness in nonsmokers. Since July 2008, Iowans have been breathing easier while enjoying smoke-free workplaces, bars and restaurants and the related health benefits. Unfortunately, casino employees and patrons continue to be exposed to deadly secondhand smoke on casino floors.

ICPHA recognizes the Casino loophole in the 2008 Smoke Free Air Act (SFAA) as a continuous threat to Iowa’s workforce, consumers, and progression toward decreasing chronic diseases related to tobacco use and inhalation of secondhand smoke.

Chronic diseases related to tobacco use and inhalation of second hand smoke is still the number one preventable cause of death in Iowa. Although the numbers have declined since SFAA implementation, second hand smoke contributes to increase risk of heart disease, respiratory illnesses such as COPD and Asthma, and various cancers.  These diseases alone cost Iowa tax payers over $1Billion dollars annually.

SFAA has proven the most effective method in lowering chronic disease related to smoking and second hand smoke.  Current data collected since the passage in 2008 demonstrates the protective power of eliminating exposure of second hand smoke in Iowa’s workforce.

  • Heart Attacks reduced by 8%
  • Hospital admission for coronary heart disease (non-heart attack related) declined by 31%
  • Hospitalization for infants with second hand smoke conditions decreased by 10%
  • An estimated 17,500 hospitalizations were avoided resulting in 348$ Million in tax payer savings.

With 9,241 workers and more than 22.6 million visitors per year, the impact of all of these casinos going smoke free would be astounding and a positive health message to all Iowans and visitors to our state. If we want to be a leader and the healthiest state, we need to offer a smoke-free workplace for the employees and visitors to the casinos. Iowa should not relegate the employees of any industry to second class status by not extending the same health protections of all other Iowans.

Policy Recommendations: 

Casino employees and consumers continue to be denied the protections of the Smoke Free Air Act.  Iowa should not relegate the employees of any industry to second class status by not extending the same health protections of all Iowans.  To prevent tobacco-related disease and death in Iowa, ICPHA recommends and fully supports closing the Casino Loophole creating healthier workplaces for all Iowans.


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