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State lawmakers introduce bill that would prohibit smoking in Pennsylvania casinos

PITTSBURGH — Two state leaders are taking action to ban smoking in casinos and other workplaces, like private clubs and bars, in Pennsylvania.

It was introduced Wednesday, with the support of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Nicole Gallagher, a former Rivers Casino cocktail server, stood alongside state leaders, Rep. Dan Frankel, and Sen. Jay Costa Wednesday in support of the bill.

“Sometimes you’re at a table with people smoking cigars and you’re holding a tray full of their drinks and you’re waiting until they play their hand, and you’re standing in their smoke,” Gallagher recalled. “That was hard.”

Gallagher has asthma, and found it difficult to do her daily duties because of secondhand smoke in Rivers. She said she suffered bronchitis multiple times, and that the secondhand smoke made her illness worse.

“We need to stop exposing people who are not really consenting to be exposed to cigarette smoke, but need the money,” she said. “It’s not fair.”

Smokers disagree.

“They shouldn’t ban it,” said Darlene Patterson, who smokes. “If people smoke, they gamble and they drink and they smoke. If you ban it, you might lose business. People won’t go outside to smoke a cigarette.”

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says that this bill would close loopholes in current legislation that still allows smoking in some public places.

“Walking into a restaurant and knowing that there’s no smoke you’re gonna be breathing, and workers and waitresses and bartenders and all the staff are protected, how healthy they can be,” Fitzgerald said. “We need to make the same thing happen in our casinos and other private clubs.”

The governor would eventually have to sign off on this bill for it to become law. We’ll keep you updated with the developments on air and online.