ANR UPDATE, 30(2), Summer 2011

 

National Smokefree Gaming Symposium

On May 9-11, ANRF co-hosted the first ever National Smokefree Gaming Symposium in Las Vegas, Nevada at a smokefree venue. Sixty participants, including researchers, health advocates, casino workers, tribal partners, and legal professionals, combined forces to share new data, hear workers' stories, and discuss legal and legislative strategies to support to make all casinos 100% smokefree.

The goal of the Symposium was not only to raise awareness and share research about the dangers of secondhand smoke exposure in casinos, but to truly strengthen the movement and solidify our strategies making all casinos 100% smokefree.

Highlights from the Symposium:

  • In collaboration with Roswell Park Cancer Institute, ANRF released "Fighting for Air: Secondhand Smoke in Casinos," an eight-minute documentary which features current and former casino workers affected by secondhand smoke exposure. Watch for a link to the documentary on our website at www.smokefreecasinos.org. We expect to release a longer version of the documentary later this year.
  • Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly attended the Symposium in person with First Lady Martha Shelley, to accept an award and standing ovation for signing an Executive Order making all workplaces, including casinos, on the Navajo Nation lands 100% commercial tobacco-free in an effort to protect all workers at Navajo Nation from secondhand smoke. Although his Executive Order did not take effect due to a procedural challenge, President Shelley made it clear that he is committed to supporting legislation this session to make sure that all workers are protected.
Honorable Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly speaks to Symposium participants about his commitment to a 100% commercial tobacco-free policy for Navajo Nation.
  • New research was presented, including research examining secondhand smoke levels in 66 smoky casinos in five states and 3 casinos that are smokefree. James Repace of Tufts University presented these findings, which provide conclusive evidence that casino workers face extremely dangerous risks as a condition of their employment.
  • A panel of casino workers shared personal stories of suffering and said they would no longer sit silently by while forced to work in unsafe conditions. Legal experts also presented potential options for workers ready to fight back.

The first ever Smokefree Gaming Symposium was a resounding success and the response was even better than we expected. Much like in the early years of fighting for smokefree restaurants, the same stale arguments are thrown at us from the opposition. Fortunately, the smokefree gaming movement has strong science and solid public support behind it and both are growing quickly. It's no longer a question of if casinos will be smokefree, but a question of when.

Thanks to everyone who attended the conference; we look forward to a productive year working together toward our goal of 100% smokefree casinos!



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