Proposed tribal law would ban indoor smoking from the public at the casino – The Cherokee One Feather


By SCOTT MCKIE BP

Staff of a feather

A proposed change to the Cherokee Code would ban indoor smoking from the public at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort and Harrah’s Valley River Casino in Murphy – both owned and operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). The amendment to the ordinance, which should be considered read and filed at the June session of the Tribal Council, reads: “This article prohibits smoking, tobacco-free and electronic cigarettes in the interior spaces of all gaming establishments. of the eastern band. “

The proposed changes relate to Cherokee Code Sec. 16-10.03. No smoking inside. There are several exclusions to the law, including “smoking or the consumption of tobacco used for the purposes of Cherokee traditional cultural ceremonies” and that the new law “does not prohibit smoking in private rooms which are specifically designed and disclosed. to customers as ‘parts’.

Lavita Hill, EBCI Tribal Member and one of the authors of the legislation, told One Feather: “By enacting this change in ordinance, the Tribal Council will take an important step forward for the public health of our people. Cherokee. “

She said there are many advantages to moving. “Smoke-free casinos have an easier time attracting employees, and those employees use fewer sick days. Insurance premiums are likely to decline, not only for casino employee health costs, but also for fire and liability insurance. Cleaning and maintenance costs will decrease. Immediately our Cherokee people will be healthier. We will become healthier as a tribe. “

Due to public health concerns, smoking was not allowed in any of the casinos during the COVID-19 pandemic and Hill says the lack of smoking ability did not hurt the bottom line. “Casinos’ revenues, since they went smoke-free a year ago, have not declined. The financial experiment has already been done and it has succeeded. People want our casinos to be smoke free. Finances are also supporting this decision.

Researchers investigated the effects of a smoke-free casino on patronage in a 2011 study at the Lake of the Torches Resort Casino in Lac du Flambeau, Wisc. Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the research article titled “Playing With Our Health: A Smoke-Free Policy Would Not Reduce Tribal Casino Patronage” surveyed a total of 957 casino player club members.

A total of 54 percent of customers said they would be “likely to visit more,” 18 percent said they would visit less, and the remaining 28 percent said they were indifferent.

Loretta Bolden, one of the bidders of the legislation, said: “Since our casino is on our limits and we are a sovereign nation, we do not have to follow the rule of the State of North Carolina to ban smoking in our company. But we have complied somewhat, which is good for a few of the employees and our customers.

A Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort employee herself, in addition to being an EBCI alumnus, Bolden noted, “Table game workers are exposed to more secondhand smoke than most of us. Like the coronavirus, second-hand smoke spreads throughout the building. We have guests and employees with weakened immune systems, who are at risk for respiratory illnesses, or who have had severe symptoms of COVID-19 who would benefit immensely from our no smoke indoors, as did the majority of our sister tribes.

According to the American Nonsmokers Rights Foundation (ANRF), a number of federally recognized tribes are reopening their gaming establishments after the pandemic in a smoke-free environment, including the Choctaw Indian Band of Mississippi, the Poarch Band of Indians of Creek, the Cherokee Nation, Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut, Colorado River Indian Tribe, Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and many more. To see an up-to-date list of smoke-free casinos, visit: Smoke-free casinos and gambling properties in the United States (gamingdirectory.com)

Hill concluded, “We are not asking the tribal council to do anything drastic. We are simply asking them to keep it as it is now. We want the decision on this to be made by our Cherokee tribal leaders, not the people at the Las Vegas casinos. We are a sovereign nation and we must remember this. “

The order was submitted by: Jessica Munson; Robin Wolfe, RN-BSN; Tracy Wolfe Birchfield, FNP-BC; Gerri Wolfe Grady; Quana Winstead, PA-C; Tara Reed; Krystle Bolden; Loretta Bolden; Becky Chiltoskie; Victoria Velasco; Marisa Cabe, FNP-BC; Tommy Cabe; Jesse C. Sneed; Leslie Lossiah Sneed; Jenny Bean; Jenea Murphy Taylor; Haley Cooper; Lavita Hill; and Tamara Thompson.

The One Feather has asked for comments from managers at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino, but has not received one at press time.



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