Casinos Reinstate Smokefree Policy, Which Should Be Made Permanent
August 12, 2021
Berkeley, CA– Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Director of Advocacy Bronson Frick released the following statement after Philadelphia casinos reinstated a smokefree indoor air policy:
“Philadelphia casino employees are receiving a temporary reprieve from secondhand smoke, but it’s time to put this issue to rest for good by finally closing the casino loophole in state law. Secondhand smoke damages the immune system and causes underlying health conditions, both of which can increase the severity of COVID. Had these casinos simply remained smokefree indoors and turned their attention to permanent outdoor smoking areas, they could have maximized their investment in deep cleaning while also protecting the health of their staff and customers and reducing costly turnover.
“The temporary smokefree policy at Philadelphia casinos highlights the absurdity of casinos in Nevada, Louisiana and other gaming states continuing to permit smoking while a mask mandate is in effect. It makes no sense to allow guests to remove their mask and blow secondhand smoke—along with droplets carrying a potentially life-threatening disease—into shared indoor air. This jeopardizes the health of gaming employees and guests alike, and no credible public health official would approve of such an activity.
“As the American Gaming Association said this week, it’s ‘not necessarily true’ that casinos adopting smokefree policies hurts revenue. In the year 2021 and as we remain stuck in a pandemic, going smokefree permanently is clearly the right decision.”
In a stark rebuke of gaming industry claims about the effectiveness of advanced ventilation systems, the experts on such ventilation systems are warning that the systems “are not effective against secondhand smoke” and “can reduce only odor and discomfort but cannot eliminate exposure.” The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) wrote in a letter to Casino Association of New Jersey President Terry Glebocki in June that “there is no currently available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of [environmental tobacco smoke] to an acceptable level.”
Further, casino workers are speaking out. “In my 20 years as a dealer, I’ve seen too many of my coworkers develop serious health issues directly related to secondhand smoke,” said Borgata dealer Nicole Vitola. “I was pregnant with my son, and I was in, I had to be in a high roller room with six people smoking cigars and I had to just stand there and deal, and I did.”
The CDC has called smokefree casino policies a “silver lining” of the pandemic.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS’ RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit https://no-smoke.org/ and https://smokefreecasinos.org/.