A victory for the right to breathe clean air in Maryland

Joint Statement of American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids and MDGASP

MGM Resorts has announced it is withdrawing its request to build an indoor smoking area at MGM National Harbor in Prince George’s County, Maryland. This is good news for the health and safety of Maryland’s casino workforce, customers, and the public.

MGM National Harbor opened in December 2016, nearly a decade after Maryland’s 2008 statewide smokefree workplace law went into effect. Like all Maryland casinos, MGM National Harbor opened as 100 percent smokefree indoors. Today, Maryland is one of 20 states that require all state regulated gaming venues to be smokefree indoors for health and safety.  There are more than 800 smokefree gambling venues across the U.S. thanks largely to local, state, and Tribal smokefree laws.

The science is clear: There is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. The Office of the Surgeon General and all leading health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) affirm that casino ventilation systems and smoking rooms neither address the health hazards nor prevent smoke from migrating throughout a building. Even at low levels, secondhand smoke still poses a serious health hazard.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE), the standard setting body for the ventilation industry, has a board position statement affirming smokefree air is the only standard for protecting human health. Additionally, the US Green Building Council now requires 100 percent smokefree indoor air in all new LEED certified buildings including casino complexes.

Thank you to volunteers for speaking up on behalf everyone’s right to breathe smokefree air in their job. Thank you to Maryland regulators for listening to the health concerns about weakening smokefree laws – one of Maryland’s most significant public health achievements.

We welcome MGM and the gaming industry to join us as champions of health in all communities. Together, we can address the gaps in smokefree protections in other states that leave casino workers the most exposed to secondhand smoke of any US job sector.

See news coverage from Washington Business Journal.