Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR)

May 4, 2023

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights Sends Letter to Green Building Initiative Calling on Organization to Revoke Certification for Rivers Portsmouth 

“It Is Difficult to See How Rivers Casino Can Be Committed To Occupant Wellness When The Property Continues To Allow Smoking Indoors.”

Advocates for smokefree casinos are pushing back on a recent certification granted to Rivers Casino Portsmouth by the Green Building Initiative (GBI), citing the casino’s indoor smoking policy. In a letter to the GBI, Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR), asked GBI to reconsider the “two green globes” rating and highlighted how the casino’s indoor smoking policy is in direct conflict with key competencies associated with their award.

“According to GBI’s representatives, Rivers Casino Portsmouth received this certification because of its ‘dedication to resource efficiency, reducing environmental impacts, and enhancing occupant wellness,’” writes Hallett. “Unfortunately, it is difficult to see how Rivers Casino can be committed to occupant wellness when the property continues to allow smoking indoors.”

The letter noted the public backlash to the casino’s smoking policy following the grand opening this year and highlighted expert reports
that refuted some of the casino’s claims about dealing with smoke.

“Despite the clear scientific evidence that allowing indoor smoking in casinos is harmful to guests and employees, Rivers Casino Portsmouth continues to operate with designated indoor smoking areas,” writes Hallett. “The casino claimed to have spent ‘a lot of time’ installing ventilation systems, despite clear evidence from the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers stating, ‘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.’”

Referencing a study from Las Vegas-based C3 Gaming, the letter also calls out the environmental impacts of maintaining smoking facilities.

“Beyond the harmful impact that secondhand smoke has on Rivers Casino guests and employees, allowing indoor smoking leads to increased energy and water consumption related to the frequent maintenance and cleaning costs for carpets, table game felts, furniture upholstery and gaming devices,” the letter reads. “A groundbreaking study by C3 Gaming found that ‘non-smoking properties appear to be performing better than their counterparts that continue to allow smoking’ and specifically mentioned the reduced costs of cleaning and maintenance services in their analysis.”

Read the full letter here.

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