Health Organizations Urge Saracen Casino to Open Permanently Smoke-free to Protect Workers, Reduce Spread of COVID-19

Saracen Casino’s grand opening is scheduled for October in Pine Bluff, and health groups urge the operator to open smoke-free to protect the health of the workers and help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Five national health organizations issued the following statement regarding the critical need for smoke-free casinos, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As businesses re-open across the state and nation, many are considering smoke-free policies to protect their workers from secondhand smoke and COVID-19 transmission. Two Arkansas casinos, Oaklawn Park Casino and Southland Casino, have already adopted smoke-free policies as a part of their COVID-19 safety protocols. We encourage these casinos to remain permanently smoke-free and for the new Saracen Casino to open and remain permanently smoke-free as well.

“The available scientific evidence is presently inadequate to infer an association between secondhand smoke exposure or secondhand aerosol exposure and COVID-19. However, we do know COVID-19 is a respiratory disease and transmission risk increases when people engage in behaviors that increase the likelihood of transferring respiratory droplets and when people engage in activities that increase the likelihood of touching their faces or mouths. At this critical moment when we all are concerned about the spread of the virus causing COVID-19, we must do everything in our power to keep our community healthy and safe. Smoking may increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

“Over a decade ago, the U.S. Surgeon General found that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Separating smokers from nonsmokers, cleaning the air, and ventilating buildings cannot eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke. The only way to eliminate the health risks from secondhand tobacco smoke in indoor environments is to prohibit smoking.

“Secondhand smoke causes lung cancer and heart disease and worsens existing health conditions including asthma and COPD. Also, people who smoke might be at a higher risk for severe complications of COVID-19.

“Everyone deserves the chance to lead a healthy life, and that means having a safe work environment free from the risks of secondhand smoke and COVID-19.

“The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, American Heart Association, American Lung Association and Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids strongly urge Saracen Casino to open smoke-free and for all Arkansas workplaces to permanently adopt smoke-free policies.”

American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights
American Heart Association
American Lung Association
Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
312-940-7001
[email protected]

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