Advocates Demand Smokefree Casinos for Workers

Aug 15, 2012, 14:09 ET from Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights

KANSAS CITY, Mo., Aug. 15, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Public health advocates from across the U.S. are gathering in Kansas City this week draw attention to the recent death of Sheryl Wilkins, a longtime casino worker who died of throat cancer earlier this month.  For three decades working as a dealer in the smoke-filled casinos of Las Vegas, Sheryl fought to have a non-smoking work environment.  She was denied a safe workplace and that, according to Sheryl, led to her throat cancer.  Sheryl never smoked a day in her life.

Like so many other residents in casino towns such as Las Vegas, Sheryl had to choose between earning a paycheck to support her family and losing her health to secondhand smoke.  Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, a national advocacy organization dedicated to making workplaces smokefree, has posted Sheryl's story on their YouTube page (ANRandANRF):

Events in Kansas City this week include meetings and a national rally for smokefree casinos on Wednesday with representatives from Clean Air Metro Kansas City, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights, and health advocates from more than 20 states and tribes.

Speakers will address the growing national gap between casino workers' exposure to secondhand smoke compared to other job sectors.  "Because of gaming expansion, the disparity of secondhand smoke in casino workplaces has become a public health crisis. It's about people's lives," said Cynthia Hallett, Executive Director of Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights.  "It's time for casino operators and policymakers to rethink the financial and human costs of allowing smoking and question whether smokefree is really the demon they have made it out to be.  It's time to protect the health of their workforce and community."

"Regardless of views of gambling, we believe that casino workers - just like a waitress, secretary, bartender, or flight attendant - should not have to choose between their paycheck and losing their health to secondhand smoke," Hallett continued.  "Smokefree casinos and gambling facilities are already the norm in 19 states – like Montana, Maryland, Ohio, Colorado, and Illinois. Smokefree air is a win-win for the health of casino workers, players, and the community.   

"Casino workers are the flight attendants of our era with regard to their plight of secondhand smoke.  It's time to stop leaving behind these workers and to give them the same right and expectation for a smokefree workplace as anyone else," said Ms. Hallett.

Even sophisticated ventilation systems and air cleaning technologies used by casinos or other hospitality businesses do not address the serious health hazards of secondhand smoke. These systems merely reduce the odor and irritation of the smoke; they do not make it safe for workers or customers.  The science is clear: the ONLY way to achieve health protection from secondhand smoke is with a 100% smokefree environment.  

Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights ( is a national not-for-profit organization established in 1976 that is dedicated to helping nonsmokers breathe smokefree air in the workplace.


Fighting for Smokefree Air: Secondhand Smoke in Casinos

SOURCE Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights