CDC Finds Prohibiting Indoor Smoking in Casinos is the Only Way to Curb Effects of Secondhand Smoke
“What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Your Lungs”
February 23, 2023
Las Vegas, NV— Today, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health released a new report on secondhand smoke, which examined air quality in Las Vegas casinos. The report, entitled “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Your Lungs” evaluated particulate matter – an indicator for secondhand smoke – in casinos that are smokefree indoors, and compared the results to casinos that allow smoking. They concluded that prohibiting smoking throughout the entirety of a casino is the only way to prevent the harms of secondhand smoke.
“This CDC report yet again confirms what scientists, health experts, and casino workers have known all along: the only way to stop threats to the health and safety of casino workers and patrons is to enact 100% smokefree indoor policies,” said Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “It is no surprise that Park MGM, the only smokefree casino on the strip, was the only casino that reported safe air quality throughout their property. As the ventilation experts have repeatedly said, there is no ventilation system that can protect worker and guest health in casinos. That’s why we’re working with casino workers in places like Atlantic City, Nevada, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Kansas to urge lawmakers to close the casino smoking loophole and protect their constituents from secondhand smoke.”
Key findings from the report include:
- Casinos that allow indoor smoking recorded secondhand smoke levels 5.4 times higher than their nonsmoking counterparts;
- Unsafe levels of secondhand smoke were still present in the parts of the casinos where smoking was otherwise prohibited. Secondhand smoke levels in “nonsmoking areas” including restaurants and sports books were 72% higher than comparable areas in smokefree casinos;
- Permitting smoking in casinos creates a risk of exposure to secondhand smoke for the 96,000 casino workers in Las Vegas and the 42.5 million annual visitors to the city; and
- Prohibiting smoking in all indoor areas, and specifically in casinos, is the only way to guarantee protection from secondhand smoke.
A report by Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming found that casinos without indoor smoking outperform their smoking counterparts. “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. At least 160 sovereign Tribal gaming venues have implemented 100% smokefree policies during COVID-19, 23 states require commercial casinos to be smokefree indoors, and more than 1,000 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/.