November 15, 2022
Advocates Respond to Iowa’s Largest Casino Considering Ending Indoor Smoking
Axios: Iowa’s Prairie Meadows Casino Could Go Smoke-Free
Berkeley, CA – After Axios reported this morning that Iowa’s largest casino, Prairie Meadows, is considering ending indoor smoking, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights President and CEO Cynthia Hallett released the following statement:
“This is the latest sign that times have changed and ending indoor smoking is now good for business. We applaud Prairie Meadows for considering ending indoor smoking and encourage them to make this critical change. Going smokefree protects employees’ health, increases their job satisfaction and attracts new customers who refuse to spend time in a smoke-filled casino. Even the best air filtration systems do not protect workers and guests from the harmful toxins of secondhand smoke. The only solution is 100% smokefree indoors. Workers should never have to choose between their health and a paycheck.”
Earlier this year, the Clinton Herald editorial board urged legislators to end the casino smoking loophole in Iowa state law. “It’s disingenuous to tout the state’s smoke-free environment for workers while at the same time — in the name of state gambling revenue — forcing casino workers to continue enduring an indoor smoking environment. The impact on revenue appears more nebulous than ever before. Fourteen years is long enough. It’s time to end the loophole that allows smoking in casinos.”
A study released by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming earlier this year shows the pandemic has flipped conventional wisdom about the economic impact of going smokefree indoors at casinos on its head: “Data from multiple jurisdictions clearly indicates that banning smoking no longer causes a dramatic drop in gaming revenue. In fact, non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking.”
Ventilation systems are not the answer, according to the engineers who design such systems and collectively make up the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). “[Ventilation systems] are not effective against secondhand smoke” and “can reduce only odor and discomfort, but cannot eliminate exposure,” they wrote to casino executives. “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.”
More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree, including Park MGM on the Las Vegas strip. In February, Navajo Nation’s new smokefree casino law took effect. At least 150 sovereign Tribal gaming venues have implemented 100% smokefree policies during COVID-19, nearly half of all states require commercial casinos to be smokefree indoors, and nearly 1,100 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS’ RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmoker’s 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/.