ANR Wants Casinos on COVID Relief Funds to Ban Smoking

In a letter sent to the American Gaming Association, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights foundation wanted casinos receiving COVID-19 relief funds to ban indoor smoking. In the letter, ANR’s CEO Cynthia Hallett compared smoking indoors to “promoting the spread” of the virus.

ANR Sends a Letter to AGA Urging for Smoke-Free Casino Floors

On Thursday this week, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) foundation called for withholding of COVID-19 relief funds for casino operators who do not go smoke-free. The letter was sent to the American Gaming Association CEO Bill Miller prior to today’s semi-annual board of directors meeting. Furthermore, the Congressional Gaming Caucus members also received the letter by ANR.

We request that you only accept taxpayer dollars, which we agree are needed to sustain gaming jobs and business operations, if casino operators agree to adopt a smoke-free indoor policy that would help to keep employees and guests safe,

wrote Cynthia Hallett, CEO of ANR

In her letter, Cynthia Hallett, CEO of the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights foundation stressed that the gaming industry needs the vital COVID-19 relief funds. She acknowledged that the industry was severely impacted by the closure of nearly all of the 1000 tribal and commercial casinos in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Smoking Indoors Compared to “Promoting the Spread” of the Virus

Furthermore, Hallett compared the indoor smoking to “promoting the spread” of the respiratory virus. Consequently, she urged Miller with the help of his leadership position to “make the argument” to AGA members outlining why smoke-free indoor facilities is a smart policy.

Another point which Hallett raised is that guests who wear a mask indoors but are allowed to remove it when smoking, are “blowing potentially hazardous droplets into shared air” which everyone breathes. This, according to her, increases the risk of transmission of the respiratory disease for both guests and employees.

More Operators Are Embracing the Idea of Smoke-Free Casino Floors

Smoking while on the casino floor has been a longstanding belief. In fact, Nevada has long resisted the ban on smoking with many operators raising concerns that such a ban will reduce their revenue. However, this may not be the case in 2020. According to poll results by Las Vegas Advisor revealed in August, 72% of the gamblers supported smoke-free casinos.

Furthermore, by now there are more than 20 states which have introduced a smoking ban inside casinos. While some states such as New Jersey, Michigan, and Pennsylvania have introduced a temporary ban on smoking, others such as Rhode Island and Arkansas have accepted the smoking ban voluntarily.

With that in mind, back in September, in Nevada, MGM revealed its plans for the reopening of two of its properties completely smoke-free. Consequently, on September 30, Park MGM and NoMad reopened smoke-free.

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