ANR Questions Marriott on New MGM Partnership
That Could Undermine Its 16-Year Smokefree Policy
Berkeley, CA— Advocates for smokefree casinos are calling attention to a new partnership between Marriott International and MGM Resorts that could undermine smokefree protections for guests in states across the country. Last month, the companies announced a partnership that would allow Marriott customers to book reservations at MGM Resorts through Marriott platforms. In a letter to Marriott President and CEO Anthony Capuano, Cynthia Hallett, president and CEO of Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights, notes that customers would be forced to breathe secondhand smoke at many MGM properties, which runs contrary to Marriott’s smokefree hotel policy.
“We are writing to express our concern about Marriott customers facing significant exposure to secondhand smoke after years of becoming accustomed to Marriott’s leadership in ensuring a smokefree experience,” wrote Hallett. “While this may seem like a minor inconvenience, it’s significant because it flies in the face of what loyal Marriott customers have come to expect, and because the research has repeatedly shown that even brief exposure to secondhand smoke is harmful to human health. Marriott members will now be exposed to dangerous carcinogens.”
MGM operates casinos with hotels in seven states: Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Mississippi; New York; Nevada; and Ohio. While the company’s properties in four of those states are smokefree per state law, MGM allows indoor smoking at its properties in Michigan, Mississippi and Nevada, where the overwhelming majority are located.
Marriott International adopted a smokefree policy portfolio-wide across all its U.S. properties and brands in Fall 2006.
“While we acknowledge and commend your company's commitment to providing guests with a smokefree environment, we believe this new partnership raises serious conflicts with your renowned smokefree hotel policy,” wrote Hallett. “According to your policy, Marriott is ‘committed to providing its guests and associates with a smoke-free environment, and is proud to boast one of the most comprehensive smoke-free hotel policies in the industry.’ Marriott's smoke-free hotel policy has been widely praised for providing guests and associates with a healthy environment and, as you note in your policy, ‘reinforces Marriott’s commitment to being an environmentally friendly company.’”
“Unfortunately, this new partnership has the potential to greatly undermine the very policy that your company is so proud of and widely recognized for. The casino industry, including representatives of MGM, has historically opposed efforts by public health experts and casino workers to eliminate the casino smoking loophole and implement 100% smokefree indoor environments,” wrote Hallett.
Highlighting the fact that many MGM properties already operate smokefree, the letter invites Marriott to engage their new partner as a business leader that successfully implemented smokefree policy without adverse impact to the company.
“We know that MGM can effectively operate a smokefree indoor casino because state law requires the company to do so in several states. Indeed, MGM operates successful smokefree casinos in several states and even Park MGM on the Las Vegas strip,” wrote Hallett. “We urge you to raise the issue of smokefree casinos with your new partners at MGM and to clarify your commitment to providing guests with a truly smokefree experience. We welcome your ability to drive change that you long ago implemented – without negative business repercussions – as a close partner of MGM. We invite you to join us as we work to end indoor smoking in all public spaces, especially in casinos.”
Read the letter here.
ABOUT AMERICANS FOR NONSMOKERS' RIGHTS
Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights (ANR) is a member-supported, non-profit advocacy group that has been working for over 45 years, since 1976, to protect everyone’s right to breathe nontoxic air in workplaces and public places, from offices and airplanes to restaurants, bars, and casinos. ANR has continuously shined a light on the tobacco industry’s interference with sound and life-saving public health measures and successfully protected 61% of the population with local or statewide smokefree workplace, restaurant, and bar laws. ANR aims to close gaps in smokefree protections for workers in all workplaces, including bars, music venues, casinos, and hotels. For more information, please visit https://nonsmokersrights.org and https://smokefreecasinos.org.