In a matter of two breaks, just talking dealer to dealer to dealer, we'd come up with 60 names of dealers who had mostly died of cancer. I can't even tell you how many have heart disease. We're dying, we're dying, we're dying, we're sick.

- Cynthia, Las Vegas casino dealer who has chronic bronchitis and asthma due to second-hand smoke exposure



“In 2006 Nevadans made the important decision to eliminate smoking in most indoor workplaces, with the notable exceptions of casinos and stand-alone bars. In Washoe County we see that by allowing smoking in these few remaining indoor workplaces, we are continuing to put the health of people in our community at risk. Ensuring smoke-free workplaces for everyone in Washoe County will improve health and quality of life, while also reducing healthcare costs.”

–Kevin Dick, District Health Officer, Washoe County Health District

As someone who has played music in front of other people since I was 16 years old, I’ve relished any moment that I could be onstage expressing myself. Whether it is as a singer, guitarist or drummer - or even as a promoter of shows - I’ve taken those opportunities when the timing seemed right. In booking shows, smoking in venues was one of the factors I put up with for many years. I’ve never used cigarettes in my life, and the disadvantages of being in spaces where smoking was allowed was acute. Still, I wanted to be out there performing my music, so I put up with the smelly post-show clothes and the nicotine clouds. Read more

“The science here is clear. We’re exposing people who don’t want to be smokers, as if they were smokers, to carcinogens and toxins. We are putting them at risk. We shouldn’t be doing that.”

–Iain Buxton, Cardiovascular Pharmacologist, Professor of Pharmacology, University of Nevada School of Medicine

“I have a [patient] who worked in a casino for many decades who had stage three adenocarcinoma of the lung and no smoking in her history, no family history of smoking. The only identifiable risk factor that I had for her was her long decades of working in a closed casino environment.”

–Dr. Aleem Surani, Pulmonary Critical Care Specialist, Northern Nevada Medical Center 

“The direction of this economy is to support individual outdoor sports. It's mountain biking, it's hiking. It's running in the in the mountains, skiing, and that kind of physical activity does not sit well with smoking. So if you really want to promote the area as an outdoor sports area, we need to provide more smoke-free environments.”

–Dr. Marc Johnson, Former President, University of Nevada Reno

“During this time of Coronavirus, we really do see patients struggle much more so with the disease who have had exposure to smoke, either in the first hand or in the second hand. And that includes any type of smoke exposure, including vaping. Patients just don't do as well with the disease and oftentimes have much more severe illness and oftentimes suffer much greater complications, including risk of death.”

–Dr. Reka Danko, Physician Member, Washoe County District Board of Health, Previously, Addiction Program Coordinator, Northern Nevada HOPES 

“I think the health and wellness of companies is at the forefront, especially right now. The meeting planners are looking for the non-smoking healthier options. A lot of companies, actually in their travel policies, they write you have to stay somewhere non-smoking. So we have gotten some really nice contracts because we are non-smoking — specifically government contracts, university contracts.”

–Eric Olson, General Manager, Whitney Peak Hotel, Reno’s premier non-smoking, non-gaming hotel

“For several years I worked as a contractor for a local health insurance company and provided health and wellness education to casino employees. Many reported going home after a shift with burning eyes, a sore throat, or a headache, or having an asthma attack triggered by smoke exposure at work. While the employers appear to be invested in employee health — as evidenced by having a wellness program — they are inadvertently putting employees at risk with an environment that exposes them to tobacco smoke.”

–Kelli Goatley-Seals, MPH, President, Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition, Founding Member, Smoke Free Truckee Meadows

"Second-hand smoke cost me a job. When I was pregnant with my daughter eighteen years ago, I worked at a casino in Sparks. I told my supervisor that I was pregnant. It was early in my pregnancy, but I was having problems and was afraid of something happening while at work and wanted someone to know. I felt I could trust my supervisor. I worked in the cash cage which doesn't deal with the public and you were allowed to smoke in there. No cigarette breaks, just a constant clogged atmosphere of stale, static of smokey air. I never complained or said anything about the smoke. A couple of days after I told my supervisor, one of the women I worked with told me she had heard that I was pregnant and said to me, 'I hope you don't expect me to stop smoking.' I was floored and didn't know what to say. It was such a cruel, selfish response, not to mention completely invasive. A week or so after this incident I was fired. In 18 years, I've never gone back."

–Carmen Thomas, former casino employee

"We know smoking is bad for everyone's health, especially workers. It's time to move smoking out of buildings where people work. Period."

–Alison Gaulden

"Both of my parents were killed by lung cancer due to smoking. The old images of people smoking drinking and gambling is not relevant if we want to live healthy lives in Nevada."

–Karen Lawson

"I thought it was ludicrous that everywhere else that was public had to be smoke-free, except the casinos. Which told me the casinos did not value the lives of their workers."

–Alecia, non-smoking Nevada casino worker who died from secondhand smoke exposure in 2015

"Why do the people on the third floor get to breathe clean air? Why don't we get the same consideration? Our life is just as valuable."

–Sheryl, non-smoking Lake Tahoe casino dealer who died from throat cancer in 2012

"We all started in this industry when we were kids, we didn't know how dangerous secondhand smoke is. Now the science is indisputable."

–Vinny, non-smoking Atlantic City pit manager who got lung cancer at 48 from second-hand smoke exposure

The COVID-19 pandemic has made us all a little more cautious about the air we breathe. Casinos that continue to allow indoor smoking are forcing a double threat upon their employees and guests: exposure to maskless smoking customers and their secondhand smoke.


I just went to Western Village for dinner, and walking thru the casino was just a sea of smoke and stink. Those poor casino workers. Why isn't smoking banned except in a designated closed off place with high air exchange. It's dreadful!

Went into Atlantis this past Saturday, for an event, and it smelled like an ash tray! Please pass a new law, for ALL of us, but particularly, the employees.

I am always kinda shocked at some people's levels of "acceptable addictions." To see someone at the slots, with a drink, smoking a cigarette, AND on their phone makes me very sad.

–Andy Clayman

Smoke free is the way. Thanks for standing up for good health.

–Katherine F.

Has secondhand smoke impacted your life? If you’ve been personally affected by exposure to secondhand smoke in indoor public workplaces, or someone you care about has, we want to hear your story.

We’ll share it with others to help our effort to protect everyone in the Truckee Meadows from the dangers of secondhand smoke.