Saskatchewan's next casino has decided to follow the lead of other First Nations-run casinos in the province and allow smoking — something that's not going over well with anti-tobacco advocates.
The provincial government's anti-smoking law prohibits smoking in enclosed public spaces, but after First Nationsargued the law doesn't apply to reserve land, the province backed off.
Casinos owned by the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority that allow smoking are located in Yorkton, North Battleford, Prince Albert and the Carlyle-area White Bear First Nation.
Provincially owned Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw are smoke free.
The province's next casino will be the Dakota Dunes facility on the Whitecap First Nation south of Saskatoon. It's still under construction and is expected to open in September.
SIGA CEO Zane Hansen said the new casino will include a partitioned-off section covering about 20 per cent of the floor where smoking will be allowed.
"It'll be all glass walls and negative air ventilation, so it'll be a very high air quality for all of our patrons," Hansen said.
However, Rob Cunningham, Saskatchewan spokesman forthe Canadian Cancer Society, said partitioned smoking rooms don't work.
"Even outside of these rooms, the public is exposed because the smoke drifts, leaks, ventilation breaks down, and every time a door is opened, the second-hand smoke escapes," he said.
Cunningham says more First Nations need to start taking smoking seriously by enacting strict bylaws and ending smoking in their casinos.
Smoking should not be turned into a sovereignty issue, he said.
"If it is a question of sovereignty, then a First Nation can adopt a law that is 100-per-cent smoke free," he said. "We should not be going backwards by allowing smoking in the face of valid provincial legislation."