RENO–Nevada’s smoke-free advocates celebrated wins earlier this month when MGM announced its Park MGM and NoMad properties in Las Vegas were shifting to 100% smoke-free operations. Now, they’re challenging the rest of Nevada’s casinos to go smoke-free, too.
Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition, a collection of public health and private partner organizations, is behind the effort. The coalition has worked for more than two decades to reduce smoking and secondhand smoke exposure in the state – both can increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer, among other diseases.
“Employees are our businesses’ most valuable resource and 83.9% of Nevada casino workers report exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace,” NTPC members said in a joint statement. “Nevada and our businesses can do better for these employees by making 100% of indoor workplaces smoke free.”
During the COVID-19 pandemic smoking potentially poses an even greater health risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “being a current or former cigarette smoker may increase risk of severe illness from COVID-19.” NTPC’s public health partners suggest those exposed to secondhand smoke may face similar risks.
In addition, NTPC notes that smoking in casinos increases risk for spread of the virus as individuals remove their face coverings to use their smoking device, thus weakening measures implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Nevada’s Clean Indoor Air Act, passed by voters in 2006, prohibits smoking in workplaces, but exempted gaming floors as well as stand-alone bars, taverns and saloons. Since the passage of the law, Nevada’s smoking rate has declined significantly, from 30.3% of adults to just 15.7%.