The mythological unicorn has come to describe something wistfully desirable, but rarely seen. More than four out of 5 people (including casino goers) do not smoke. Many say they would enjoy a casino experience more if it were smoke free. At Ho Chunk Casino in Madison Wisconsin, the fable became a reality!

The sovereign tribal casino successfully transformed into a smokefree facility. As both a business decision and to protect the health of tribal members and guests, the smokefree indoor air policy made business better than ever!

Smoke Free St Joe coordinators Karl Nichols and Latorya Greene standing on the left.

While attending training with the American Non-smokers Rights Foundation, Karl Nichols and Latorya Greene of Smoke Free St Joe joined the 3rd anniversary celebration. They learned the tribe honors their culture and traditions by keeping tobacco sacred while eliminating commercial tobacco use within the casino. The result (almost as unimaginable as a unicorn to the common perception): the Madison casino is the most profitable of the Ho Chunk casinos!



According to a publication called Walking Toward the Sacred: Our Great Lakes Tobacco Story, sacred tobacco is a separate species from commercial tobacco. Traditional tobacco has a very high nicotine content, and is not inhaled during ceremonies. Sadly, the use of commercially-manufactured tobacco among native people is very high compared to other populations. Some attribute this dismal fact to lax attitudes toward tobacco use among those living on Reservations. By keeping use of tobacco to sacred practices only, they hope to reduce the mortality rate due to smoking. The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Epidemiology Center believes restoring traditional tobacco use and their sacred way of life creates a healthier environment for their children.

If you would like to learn more about smokefree indoor air policies in the hospitality industry, please contact us at