NC: Tribal Council Approves Smoke Ban for Cherokee Casinos

Smoke-free casino floors is a topic that has been gaining traction for decades. While some 20-30 years ago, smoking went hand in hand with gambling, this may not be the case anymore. Although US states have banned smoking within indoor areas, some states feature an exception to that rule when it comes to casinos.

Smoke-Free Casino Floors Is a Hot Topic in North Carolina

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, casinos around the US introduced completely smoke-free venues. However, the smoke ban was implemented temporarily at some places and many venues reinstated smoking once permitted by local authorities.

Similar to New Jersey, where the debate surrounding smoke-free casinos continues, the topic has also been popular in North Carolina. In fact, a proposal that prohibits smoking in casinos that are owned and operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) was introduced earlier this year.

The proposal calls for a change within the Cherokee Code, resulting in a ban on indoor smoking. Still, the activity would be permitted under the proposal, but only within areas that are designated especially for smoking. In other words, casino visitors who would like to light a cigarette would have to vacate the casino floor and head to a special “smoking area.”

Tribal Council Approves Smoking Ban

Unlike New Jersey, where the debate regarding smoking in casinos is taking years, Tribal authorities in North Carolina acted rather quickly. In fact, the Tribal Council voted to approve the change this Thursday during its regular session. As a result, the smoke ban was introduced for two properties operated by the EBCI: Harrah’s Cherokee Valley and Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.

Previously, the two properties allowed smoking indoors within specific areas. However, those areas weren’t entirely sealed off from other parts of the casino floor which led to smoke transmitting from one area to the other. With that in mind, the new rule completely separates the “smoking areas” from other areas within the casino. Each of the venues would need to design the smoking area in such a way so that smoke doesn’t affect other nearby areas.

“We made a lot of money without cigarettes, pipes, and cigars being lit up in our casino.”

Teresa McCoy, council member at EBCI

Teresa McCoy, one of the council members at EBCI was among the supporters of the smoking ban. Once the change was approved, she acknowledged that the two venues have been earning lots of money while smoke-free. Additionally, McCoy said she was approached by employees who said that they have been grateful for the smoke ban. Undoubtedly, the recent change will have a long-term positive impact on the health of casino employees as well.