The Facts

The science is well established that there is no known safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke.

Smoking areas, smoking rooms, or even sophisticated casino ventilation systems and air cleaning technologies do not address the serious health risks caused by secondhand smoke to casino employees or patrons. Secondhand smoke has a “non-linear dose response,” meaning that a little exposure can cause a lot of harm.

Even brief or low levels of exposure have a negative impact to the cardiovascular system, including to the endothelial function. This can lead to an increased risk of heart attack among other hazards. For casino workers, long-term exposure greatly increases risk of cancer and many other chronic diseases.

Why no safe level of exposure? Secondhand smoke is a toxic soup of thousands of chemicals, including many potent carcinogens, to which there is no safe level of exposure.

The cardiovascular system is extremely sensitive. For example, platelet response and endothelial functions are activated by even low levels of smoke exposure. What’s more, the smoke exposure hinders the body’s ability to repair the damage, leading to even more damage when exposure is ongoing — such as in a workplace setting.

Ventilation is not the answer. Casinos often spend large sums on ventilation systems or smoking rooms specifically for the purpose of mitigating secondhand smoke. Unfortunately, even the most sophisticated ventilation systems and air-cleaning technology cannot eliminate the health risks to nonsmokers because they cannot remove all the toxic gases and particulates from cigarette smoke in the air. Creating smoking and nonsmoking sections, installing smoking rooms with or without doors, or using sophisticated air-cleaning technologies cannot eliminate the health hazards of secondhand smoke exposure or remove all the poisons, toxins, gases, and particles found in secondhand smoke. Furthermore, heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems can actually distribute secondhand smoke throughout a building.

A federal report from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted indoor air quality assessments and biomarker tests on 124 workers in Bally’s, Caesars Palace, and Paris casinos and found that casino workers are exposed to hazardous levels of toxic secondhand smoke at all casinos tested, regardless of ventilation systems. Toxins from secondhand smoke were absorbed into workers’ bodies at growing levels during their shifts.

The only known way to address the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke inside gaming venues is to be 100% smokefree. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) are the international standard setting body for indoor air quality. The ASHRAE Board of Directors unanimously adopted a position document on secondhand smoke, which states that ventilation cannot eliminate the health dangers posed by secondhand smoke and that smoking does not belong indoors.

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