Missouri Casinos Can Save Lives & Dollars

New Medical Study Finds Ambulance Rates Fall When Casinos Go Smokefree

Columbia, Mo.—A groundbreaking study has found that when casinos go smokefree, they reduce medical emergencies for employees and patrons and save taxpayer dollars.

In a new study, “Changes in Ambulance Calls After Implementation of a Smoke-Free Law and Its Extension to Casinos,” scientists from the University of California, San Francisco found a 20 percent reduction in ambulance calls to casinos after the implementation of Colorado’s smokefree policies.

Colorado implemented a smokefree policy in 2006 making all workplaces and public places except casinos smokefree. During that time ambulance calls originating from everywhere but casinos dropped 20 percent; calls from casinos did not change. In 2008, when the Colorado policy was extended to include casinos, ambulance calls originating from casinos dropped by 20 percent immediately following implementation.

“This study again confirms prior medical findings that the dangers of secondhand smoke are very real; there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Tobacco Free Missouri Executive Director Traci Kennedy. “This study clearly shows that smokefree policies work. Casino, bar, restaurant and other hospitality employees face serious health risks when there are no smokefree policies in place. Exempting casinos from these policies only means more Missourians will continue to face preventable medical emergencies and limited taxpayers’ dollars will continue to be stretched.”

Currently, only 20 states include state-regulated commercial casinos in their smokefree workplace laws. However, nearly 90 percent of casino workers are still exposed to secondhand smoke in their workplaces.

Each year, smoking causes nearly six million tobacco-related deaths worldwide. While tobacco use in Missouri is decreasing, it remains a problem. According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, in 2011, a quarter of Missouri adults smoked, the ninth highest rate in the country. An estimated 1,150 Missourians are killed due to secondhand smoke each year.