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Anti-Smoking Campaign Threatens Casino Profits

20 September 2002

LAS VEGAS – As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "Perhaps the biggest threat to growth in the U.S. casino industry comes not from antigambling interests, but from health-conscious public officials.

"A group that sets the country's indoor air-quality standards is under `enormous' pressure to make casinos and other hospitality venues smoke-free, an expert warned attendees at the Global Gaming Expo on Thursday.

"`With the collapse of the tobacco industry, the hospitality industry is next to come under attack,' said Elia Sterling, president of Theodor Sterling Associates, an indoor air-quality firm based in Vancouver, B.C.

"If the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE, were to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for smoke particles, casinos could lose billions in revenue, according to legislative analyst Wayne Mehl of the American Gaming Association.

"Forty percent to 50 percent of casino gamblers are smokers, about double the percentage of the U.S. population as a whole, Mehl said. A 1993 gaming-industry study showed that Nevada casinos alone would have lost $1 billion in revenue if casinos were forced to go smoke-free.

"…The industry will get a glimpse of the possible future beginning Nov. 27, when the three Delaware racetracks become the first casino jurisdiction to go smoke-free as part of a broader state law.

"…At issue for U.S. casinos is ASHRAE Standard 62-1999, which governs how casinos, restaurants, bars and lounges filter and dilute their air to control tobacco particles, tobacco odor and body odor.

"…Special interests, however, are aggressively pushing for standards so tight they "would effectively ban smoking in the hospitality industry,' Sterling said…"

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