Nationwide Smoking Ban in Casinos Pushed by Advocacy Group to Protect Public Against Covid-19

Casino Watch Focus has reported on the recent smoking ban proposals for casinos as a means to prevent the spread of coronavirus.  These efforts have been fairly localized, but the impact of such a policy is self-evident.  Covid-19 is widely spread through air particulates and exhaling smoke puts many particulates and germs in the air.  The extension of such a policy on a national level, could therefore have tremendous benefit in preventing the spread of the virus, especially in gambling venues that haven’t decreased the volume of gamblers in the facilities by a large about or those that force smokers to congregate in one area, thus drastically increasing the consolidation of germs in the air.  An advocacy group has taken note and is pushing the policy on a national level.  An online source explains: 

The largest advocacy group in the nation that seeks to ban smoking in casinos said Thursday operators should be denied any federal COVID-19 relief funds unless the gaming industry goes smoke-free. Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights took that message to the American Gaming Association ahead of the Washington D.C. trade organization’s semi-annual board meeting, scheduled for Friday.

“We take issue with casinos potentially receiving such relief funding, (which) is necessitated by a pandemic involving respiratory issues, while still permitting an activity – indoor smoking – that promotes the spread of COVID-19,” Cynthia Hallett, CEO of the Berkley, California-based Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, wrote in the letter. She wrote that Miller should use his “leadership position to make the argument to your members about why smoke-free indoors is a smart policy.”

In their letter, they not only point out the clearly obvious hazards to allowing smoking indoors during a pandemic, but also the need for a strong enforcement measure, including holding back Covid-19 relief funding if facilities fail to protect the public though a smoking ban,  The online source continues: 

In her letter to Miller, Hallett wrote that “industry arguments against going smoke-free have grown stale and do not withstand scrutiny.” Casinos throughout the U.S. have reopened under various COVID-19 health and safety guidelines calling for cleaning and social distancing protocols. Most properties require everyone on the casino floor – employees and guests alike – to wear masks or facial coverings at all times, unless eating or drinking.

“Guests who wear a mask but are allowed to remove it while inside to smoke are blowing potentially hazardous droplets into shared air for fellow guests and gaming employees to breathe in, which increases the risk for transmission of COVID-19, amongst other health risks,” Hallett wrote. “No credible public health official would approve of this, but it’s standard operating procedure in most casinos.”

he said the letter was also shared with members of the Congressional Gaming Caucus and other congressional members who are leading COVID-19 relief negotiations. “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,” Hallett wrote.

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