ANRF published our first post about the impact of COVID-19 and the intersection of secondhand smoke exposure as a risk factor in March 2020. Over a year and half later, with case counts on the rise due to the Delta variant, it’s imperative as public health advocates that we maintain the gain in momentum towards making temporary smokefree indoor air protocols into permanent policy change.

Many states and local communities ordered temporary masking requirements which in turn, meant that smoking was not allowed in places like casinos in order to comply with the masking orders.  This included all commercial casinos in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Michigan, which successfully operated as 100% smokefree and observed record breaking revenues as the economy resumed and temporary smokefree orders were in place. As the masking orders expired, smoking has resumed inside some worksites. However, advocates remain organized in calling to make these smokefree policies permanent.

Tribal casinos have shown tremendous leadership in this space by taking swift action to adopt permanent smokefree policies for their properties.  The Navajo Nation is currently reviewing a 100% smokefree indoor air policy for their entire Nation, including their gaming enterprises. 

Local communities like Shreveport, LA passed and implemented 100% smokefree workplace, restaurant, bar, and gaming laws to prioritize the health and safety of employees and patrons.  The Stay Safe at Home Music Series, a project of Smokefree Music Cities, highlighted the importance of lifting artists’ voices in support of smokefree air and sharing how they desperately wanted to return to their favorite music venues, but not at the expense of their health. 

As we look toward strategies to mitigate the grip of COVID-19 on the business of our daily lives, 100% smokefree air – including marijuana, cigars and e-cigarettes – tops the list of ways to save lives and ensure healthy and safe environments to live, work and play. 

Read more: Respiratory Risk Factors and COVID-19