Smokefree Louisiana recognizes responsible gambling education initiative, but says ‘responsible gambling’ must include smokefree work environments – The Observer
Smokefree Louisiana Acknowledges Responsible Gambling Education Initiative, But Says “Responsible Gambling” Must Include Smokefree Workplaces
Posted at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, September 11, 2022
Protecting gaming workers and patrons should be the top priority for industry leaders, according to local Americans for Non-Smokers Rights spokesperson Raegan Carter. She addressed the issue in response to the American Gaming Association’s recognition of “Responsible Gaming Education Month” which began on September 1.
“We welcome the industry’s support for responsible gambling, but strongly believe it is a dishonest concept for establishments that continue to fight against tobacco-free policies. How can anyone honestly believe that the industry takes its responsibility for the health and safety of its workers and customers seriously when it insists on placing these workers and customers in toxic environments,” she asks. .
Carter says that one of the basic tenets of responsible gambling is recognizing and minimizing the potential for addiction and problem gambling, and that taking periodic breaks is a proven tool to help those with a gambling problem. However, she says some facilities insist on allowing and encouraging smoking on a gaming machine or table, rather than supporting smoke-free environments where players must go out for their cigarette breaks. She cites a recent letter from the National Council on Problem Gambling to New Jersey lawmakers which clearly states, “Making casinos smoke-free is likely to reduce the incidence of problem gambling and improve public health. National Council on Problem Gambling (NCPG).
Carter says Louisiana’s casinos and gambling halls have traditionally opposed local smoke-free ordinances, but more than 30 municipalities have adopted these safeguards over industry opposition. She says that number is growing and the public is increasingly aware that most gambling operators will choose profits over the health of employees and customers, even if it means fueling customer addictions.
“They (gambling operators) are fighting tobacco ordinances tooth and nail. They want this addicted smoker to sit at a machine or a table and not get up for as long as possible, and certainly not to go outside for a cigarette break. It’s unconscionable to see them bragging about ‘responsible gambling’ while opposing smoke-free laws, which are among the easiest and most responsible acts they can promote,” she adds.
The Louisiana Legislature passed a statewide smoke-free workplace law in 2007, which included loopholes for bars, casinos and gambling halls. However, the act allowed local municipalities to pass more comprehensive local ordinances that have since included casino markets such as New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Shreveport. Lake Charles and Jefferson Parish are the largest remaining communities that have yet to protect bar and gaming employees and patrons from indoor smoking in all facilities.
ANR and ANRF are members of the Smokefree Louisiana Coalition of health organizations and individuals united to expand tobacco control laws inside Louisiana to cover all employees. For more information, please visit our website at Smoke-FreeLouisiana.org.