Home Uncategorized A Tip of the Hat to an Advocate for Smoke-Free Casinos

A Tip of the Hat to an Advocate for Smoke-Free Casinos

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Several years ago at the Hospitality Design Expo and Conference there was a session at which several people—at least one from MGM Resorts International—discussed what was then the future opening of the mammoth City Center project in Las Vegas. At that session, Stephanie Steinberg, chairwoman of Englewood, Colo.-based Smoke-Free Gaming stood up and asked the person from MGM how their LEED-pursuing CityCenter project could possibly include a casino (the casino portion of Aria Resort & Casino) that would permit smoking. I don’t recall the specific words of the MGM executive but I recall that Stephanie’s question was not sufficiently answered. CityCenter went on to earn six LEED Gold certifications and smoking is still indeed allowed at the Aria casino, even though MGM does try to minimize second-hand smoke exposure through ventilation techniques (Steinberg would call it “voodoo ventilation.”)

I spoke with Stephanie this past week for a Green Lodging News profile (see article). I strongly encourage you to read the article and check out the website for Smoke-Free Gaming. You may not agree with what Stephanie says but we can all agree that she is one of the most passionate people in our industry when it comes to casino worker rights. Stephanie’s nonprofit has strongly influenced the outcome of legislation—especially in Colorado where casinos have been smoke free for several years now.

Some of the stories Stephanie told me are touching—about casino workers suffering from asthma, different types of cancers and other maladies as a result of being exposed to second-hand smoke for long periods of time. She told me about one casino worker who wore a pin on her shirt to work one day. When she took it off at the end of her shift, there was an outline of the pin on her shirt from the smoke residue.

I often hear from casino companies in regard to their green efforts and I can only applaud them for those accomplishments. What boggles my mind, however, is how those same companies—so skilled at telling their green stories—can spend what Stephanie says is millions of dollars fighting efforts (by organizations like Smoke-Free Gaming) to eliminate casino smoking. “The gaming industry has been historically tied to the tobacco industry for years,” Stephanie says.

Hopefully, some day all casinos will be smoke free—we are certainly heading in that direction. Until that day comes, you can bet Stephanie Steinberg will be traveling the country and organizing efforts to clear the air for employees and patrons alike. Our industry could use a few more strong men and women like her.

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