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Pennsylvania’s House Bill 1657 Seeks to Prohibit Indoor Smoking in Casinos

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Pennsylvania is making progress towards ensuring its casinos offer a healthy environment for visitors and staff. State Representative Dan Frankel of Allegheny County, a Democrat and the health committee's majority chair, is pushing House Bill 1657, the Protecting Workers from Secondhand Smoke Act, which seeks to outlaw indoor smoking in gambling venues.

Next Steps for Pennsylvania's Anti-Smoking Legislation

With a vote set for November 15, the legislation's goal is to abolish indoor smoking in casinos to foster a more wholesome environment for staff and visitors. Frankel has been proactive in rallying support for the bill, persuading fellow lawmakers to endorse it and steering it through the initial committee stages.

The forthcoming health committee session is set to be crucial. It will see 25 committee members consider amendments to the bill before casting their votes. Frankel is hopeful about the bill's passage and the possibility of bipartisan agreement.

The bill's future timeline is not fixed, but Frankel remains optimistic about its passage. His aim is to have it ready for Governor Josh Shapiro's signature by spring, confident in Shapiro's backing and the priority given to public health in the casino sector.

Parx Casino Sets Precedent for Healthier Casino Workplaces

A significant factor in endorsing a smoke-free policy is the positive effect it can have on casino employees. Parx Casino has shown that a no-smoking policy can coexist with commercial success. Its properties in Bensalem and Shippensburg have been smoke-free since the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to better staff well-being and lower health-related expenditures.

Frankel argues that a smoke-free setting benefits workers and improves the atmosphere for non-smoking customers. He notes that those who wish to smoke can still partake in online gaming from their homes.

This move follows earlier failed attempts to pass similar legislation, with objections rooted in concerns over potential revenue loss. However, advocates such as the Pennsylvania chapter of Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects (CEASE) argue that such a ban is a lifesaver and crucial for worker protection from secondhand smoke.

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