New Jersey legislators are inching ever closer to banning smoking — of all stripes — inside the state’s Atlantic City casinos. The first hearings were recently held at the State House in Trenton, and non-smoking advocates like their chances going forward, as a majority of state legislators have co-sponsored the legislation.
And a current report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Office on Smoking and Health can only bolster the chances of legislators there — and in other casino states — successfully stamping out smoking inside casinos.
The report — “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Your Lungs” — studied secondhand smoke by looking at air quality in Las Vegas casinos. The study included one casino that doesn’t allow smoking on property: Park MGM, the only casino on the Strip that has kicked the habit.
And the study showed that even in casinos where there are plentiful non-smoking areas, the only way to successfully keep the harms of secondhand smoke at bay is an outright ban.
‘The only way’
“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,” Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, said in a press release. “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.”
Some of the key findings in the study:
Casinos that allow smoking had secondhand smoke levels at 5.4 times the rate as nonsmoking casinos.
There were still, by the CDC’s standards, unsafe levels of secondhand smoke in “nonsmoking” areas of casinos, including inside restaurants and sportsbooks.
The only way to successfully combat this is by banning all smoking.
According to Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, at least 160 tribal gaming establishments have banned smoking, 23 states require casinos to be smokefree indoors, and an additional 1,000 gaming properties are smokefree.
Photo: Lyn Alweis/ Getty Images
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