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Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition Urges All Casinos to Go Smoke-Free

The Nevada Tobacco Prevention Coalition (NTPC) is urging all casinos in the state to follow Park MGM’s lead and go completely smoke-free.

Smoking has lost much of its “cool factor” since Sean Connery introduced James Bond to the world in the 1962 film, “Dr. No.” Anti-smoking advocates in Nevada are asking all casinos to ban smoking. (Image: United Artists)

MGM Resorts is reopening Park MGM on Wednesday as a fully smoke-free casino resort, the first in Las Vegas Strip history.

“We identified an opportunity to be responsive to recurring guest demand for a fully non-smoking casino resort on the Strip,” said MGM Resorts Regional Operations President Anton Nikodemus.

The NTPC hopes Park MGM will usher in a trend of Nevada casinos forcing gamblers to step outside to smoke tobacco.

Employees are our businesses’ most valuable resource, and 83.9 percent of Nevada casino workers report exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace,” a NTPC statement read. “Nevada and our businesses can do better for these employees by making 100 percent of indoor workplaces smoke free.”

The American Lung Association called the Park MGM announcement “a landmark for the Strip, Las Vegas, and Nevada.”

The Nevada Clean Indoor Act, passed in 2006, bans smoking in most public and indoor places. However, smoking is permitted in casino gaming areas where, by law, minors are prohibited.

Union Supports Effort

The state’s largest trade group, the Culinary Union, has extended its backing to the smoke-free workplace initiative.

“It’s long overdue for an entirely smoke-free casino in Las Vegas, and the Culinary Union is completely supportive,” a tweet from the organization explained.

The Culinary Union represents some 60,000 workers in Las Vegas and Reno, the vast majority who work inside casino resorts in a variety of non-gaming capacities. Positions include cooks and food servers, porters, bellmen, bartenders, and housekeepers. Though they might not work directly on the casino floor, the workers remain exposed to secondhand smoke.

Secondhand smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 70 of them are known to cause cancer, according to the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Smoking Extinguished

Smoking tobacco is down across the US. In Nevada, only 16.1 percent of adults say they smoke daily or some days each week. That’s down 31.2 percent from 1991.

Gaming industry analysts, however, say there remains a substantial percentage of gamblers who enjoy smoking while testing their luck. Barry Jonas, an analyst at investment firm SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, says smokers might still visit a smoke-free casino. But their smoke breaks will result in lost revenue.

It’s not necessarily that smokers won’t come,” Jonas recently told the Las Vegas Sun. “It’s more that their gaming flow is interrupted for smoke breaks.”

During those breaks, Jones believes, smokers might decide to end their gambling and call it a day. “There’s clearly still a smoking demographic that likes to gamble,” he added. “I just doubt that the entire Strip will be smoke-free 10 years from now.”

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