The Dangers of Secondhand Smoke

Millions of Americans visit casinos and bingo halls to unwind and in some states players face a hidden danger; secondhand smoke. According to a study done by researchers at Stanford and Tufts universities and published in the journal Environmental Research 50 million nonsmoking players and 400,000 nonsmoking casino workers gamble with their lives in casinos that still allow smoking. The study showed that less than two hours of exposure to secondhand smoke is enough to impair the heart and its ability to pump blood. This places casino patrons and workers at risk of developing heart disease.

In the United States Coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death and is a major cause of disabilities. Secondhand smoke cost the US an estimated $151.6 billion in 2007. About 8% of the US population from 45 to 64 years old and 20% of those over 65 suffer from coronary heart disease. Older people are at greater risk from exposure to secondhand smoke. Compounding the problem the two age groups have higher gambling rates than those under 45 years old.

The team of researchers from Stanford and Tufts examined smoke levels in 66 casinos in five states. They also examined three smoke free casinos and compared them with outdoor pollution levels. The current study is a continuation of an earlier study conducted at 36 casinos in California and 30 casinos in other states. The researchers took their measurements covertly. Combining the data from several casinos the researchers developed nationwide averages and ranges for pollution levels inside casinos.

The researchers found that ventilation and air cleaning do not control smoke levels in casinos that allow smoking. Lynn Hildemann, a professor of environmental engineering and science at Stanford and the principal investigator for the study stated “The only effective control for secondhand smoke was reducing the number of smokers. The fewer smokers, the less polluted the air. If you switch to a nonsmoking casino, your exposure to harmful fine particulate matter levels indoors will be reduced by 90 percent, and your exposure to carcinogenic PPAH levels will decrease by 80 percent.”

Smoke free casinos are rare but nonsmokers have another option; internet bingo sites and casinos. Players can sit in the clean smoke free air of their own homes and do not have to risk heart disease in smoky casinos. The study found that the only way to eliminate the dangers of secondhand smoke was to ban smoking entirely. It would appear that playing online in a smoke free environment is much healthier.