Objectives: To determine the percentage of gamblers who smoke while gambling at three of Nevada’s major gambling destinations, Las Vegas, Reno/Sparks and Lake Tahoe.
Methods: Teams of two people counted the number of smokers and total number of gamblers at various Nevada casinos. The total number of gamblers observed smoking was then multiplied by three to determine the total number of smokers. This methodology for determining the number of smokers in a room was established by Repace and Lowry in 1980.
Results: We observed a total of 14 052 gamblers at the three sites, of which a total of 947 were smoking. We estimated the percentage of smokers at three gaming tourist centres in Nevada (Las Vegas, Reno/Sparks and Lake Tahoe). The percentage of smokers at Las Vegas (20.3% (95% CI 0.9)) and Reno/Sparks (21.5% (95% CI 1.2%)) did not significantly differ from the US population percentage of smokers (20.9% (95% CI 0.6%)) (p>0.05). However, at Lake Tahoe the percentage of smokers (16.4% (95% CI 1.8%)) was significantly lower than the published US population smoker percentage (p<0.0001). Mean percentage of smokers by location did not significantly differ (p = 0.43)
Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the percentage of gamblers who smoke was less than or not different from the overall US percentage of a population who smoke. These findings provide additional evidence to refute the exemption to smoking bans for casinos based upon the supposition that a greater percentage of casino customers are smokers than the general population and therefore a smoking ban for casinos may result in an economic hardship.
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Funding: This project was supported by the Nevada State Health Division through grant number U58/CCU922830-03 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by the Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station.
Competing interests: None.