Nonsmokers lobby AGA for smoke-free casinos

Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANRF), an advocacy group for (you guessed it) non-smokers, has visited America’s casinos and they didn’t like what they saw. Now they’re lobbying the American Gaming Association (AGA) to call for casinos that allow smoking to forgo desperately needed COVID-19 relief funds. It’s a long-shot bid that’s not likely to get much traction from a customer-starved casino industry that’s reeling from the devastating impact of the pandemic.

The ANRF’s request to the AGA, which was signed by CEO and president Cynthia Hallett came in the form of a two-page letter that was delivered earlier this week. In the letter, Hallett points out that an abundance of cigarette smoke increases the chances of corona virus transmission in casinos. Hence her suggestion that smokey casinos forgo COVID relief funds.

Hallett’s letter wasn’t, however, designed to bash the gaming industry. On the contrary, she praised casinos that have already gone smoke-free and suggests that smoke-free casinos earn more cash than their smokey counterparts.

“Casinos in states that were forced to abide by a state-imposed, temporary smoke-free policy in order to reopen, such as Pennsylvania, have seen revenues remain relatively stable compared to the previous year, especially considering they have been operating at significantly reduced capacity, and the smoke-free policy has helped to keep 99 percent of gaming employees COVID-free,” she said.

The AGA’s reaction, as well as that of most casino operators was a shrug of the shoulders – offering no comment. In a statement reported on by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Nevada Resort Association said most of its members are already in compliance with standard non-smoking best practices anyways.