Posted 24 Nov, 2020
Leading health groups Quit, Cancer Council Victoria and the Heart Foundation have urged Crown Melbourne to permanently ban indoor smoking in the VIP ‘high roller’ gaming rooms, after casino workers expressed concerns about their health and safety due to coronavirus.
Last night, the casino decided to temporarily suspend indoor smoking until December 6, in response to complaints from casino workers worried about contracting COVID-19 from patrons removing their masks and smoking cigarettes and cigars in VIP gaming rooms.
Around 1,000 casino workers are exposed to deadly, secondhand tobacco smoke in their workplace.
It has been conclusively shown that secondhand smoke increases the risk of cancer and cardiac issues among non-smokers. The casino is the last enclosed workplace in Victoria to still expose workers to secondhand smoke.
Quit director Dr Sarah White said staff at Crown Melbourne are entitled to be in a workplace with appropriate health and safety standards.
“It’s never been fair that Crown staff are exposed to deadly secondhand smoke just because they show up to work. Now, it’s also plain ridiculous. How can a COVIDSafe plan say it’s all right for patrons to take their masks off inside so they can breathe out smoke and aerosols for workers to breathe in?” she said.
“Despite what Crown Melbourne claim, there is no ventilation system or screens on the gaming room floor that can remove deadly secondhand smoke,” Dr White said.
Heart Foundation Victoria CEO Kellie-Ann Jolly said there’s no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke for heart health.
“Secondhand smoke impacts your heart and lungs and increases your risk of cardiovascular disease, clogging the arteries and causing the heart to work harder to pump oxygen around the body,” Ms Jolly said.
“Crown Melbourne is putting their workers’ health at risk by allowing them to work in a smoke-filled environment,” she said.
“With patrons in these VIP rooms exhaling toxic tobacco smoke, coughing, and repeatedly touching their eyes and mouth, staff working in the gaming rooms are also vulnerable to catching coronavirus. Crown Melbourne needs to undertake all necessary precautions to support the health of their workforce over whatever profit they make inside the VIP gaming rooms,” said Todd Harper, CEO of the Cancer Council.