January 25, 2023
Rhode Island Legislation to End Indoor Smoking at Casinos Will Save Lives
“Senate President Ruggiero Should Stop Blocking This Critical Bill From Passing.”
Providence, RI— Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, which advocates for smokefree casinos across the country, released the following statement after legislation to end indoor smoking at Rhode Island casinos was introduced today:
“Most people are shocked to learn that smoking still happens indoors at casinos, but casino workers are reminded every day they go to work that they essentially the only workers left who must risk their health for a paycheck. We applaud Representative Tanzi for introducing legislation today that is long overdue and has a long list of co-sponsors in both chambers. Senate President Ruggiero should stop blocking this critical bill from passing.
“We all know the harms of secondhand smoke, and Rhode Island casino workers have bravely spoken out to protect their health — even as they risk retaliation from their employer. They have joined the growing casino worker movement that started in Atlantic City called Casino Employees Against Smoking Effects, or CEASE. Despite misleading claims about ventilation systems, we know their lungs serve as the filters long before smoke reaches the filters above. Enough is enough. What’s more is that research of competitive markets shows casinos without indoor smoking generate more revenue than their smoking counterparts. All the excuses are gone. It’s time to end this outdated business practice and, in the year 2023, enter modern times.”
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.
At the opening of a new casino recently, guests were surprised–and repulsed–to discover indoor smoking was permitted. “I will never come here again until they ban cigarette smoking inside this building,” said one guest. “Had I known, I simply wouldn’t have come. This is just not OK,” said another. “I think it’s backwards, archaic, disgusting, and I won’t ever come here again,” said yet another.
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/.