International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Published January 20, 2016
Most casinos owned by sovereign American Indian nations allow smoking, even in U.S. states such as California where state laws restrict workplace smoking. Collaborations between casinos and public health workers are needed to promote smoke-free policies that protect workers and patrons from secondhand tobacco smoke (SHS) exposure and risks. Over seven years, a coalition of public health professionals provided technical assistance to the Redding Rancheria tribe in Redding, California in establishing a smoke-free policy at the Win-River Resort and Casino. The coalition provided information to the casino general manager that included site-specific measurement of employee and visitor PM2.5 personal exposure, area concentrations of airborne nicotine and PM2.5, visitor urinary cotinine, and patron and staff opinions (surveys, focus groups, and a Town Hall meeting). The manager communicated results to tribal membership, including evidence of high SHS exposures and support for a smoke-free policy. Subsequently, in concert with hotel expansion, the Redding Rancheria Tribal Council voted to accept a 100% restriction of smoking inside the casino, whereupon PM2.5 exposure in main smoking areas dropped by 98%. A 70% partial-smoke-free policy was instituted ~1 year later in the face of revenue loss. The success of the collaboration in promoting a smoke-free policy, and the key element of air quality feedback, which appeared to be a central driver, may provide a model for similar efforts.