Protecting Student-Athletes: With Basketball Tournament Underway, Mountain West Conference Is Asked to Support Ending Indoor Smoking in Vegas Casinos

Mountain West Should Urge Las Vegas Casinos to Finally Adopt Smokefree Indoor Air Policies that Protect Workers, Guest, and College Athletes

Las Vegas, NV - As the Mountain West Men’s Basketball Championship tipped off in Las Vegas this week, Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights (ANR) is raising awareness on a critical issue threatening the health of participating student-athletes: secondhand smoke exposure in casinos.

In a letter sent to the Mountain West Conference Commissioner, ANR draws attention to the loophole in Nevada law that allows smoking indoors in casinos and endangering the health of student-athletes staying at these casino resorts during the tournament. Because of this, ANR is calling on the conference to join the coalition to end indoor smoking at Nevada casinos.

“As an organization committed to promoting the well-being of student-athletes and fostering a positive environment for collegiate sports, we urge the Mountain West Conference to join the broad, diverse coalition that is standing up for workers and guests to close loopholes in state laws in Nevada and other states where these antiquated business practices are allowed to persist,” ANR wrote.

ANR extended their request to Mountain West to go even further to ensure safe accommodations for student-athletes during the tournament.

“While nearly every business in Nevada protects workers and guests from the known dangers of secondhand smoke indoors, casinos are the exception,” ANR wrote. “Given that many of the teams in your conference may stay at these casinos for several days, we also write to ask that you consider ensuring accommodations for student-athletes that will prevent them from even brief exposure to secondhand smoke.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no risk-free level of secondhand smoke, and even brief exposure can cause immediate harm. ANR references a recent CDC report titled "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Your Lungs," which underscores the need for comprehensive smoking bans indoors to protect individuals from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.

"Prohibiting smoking throughout the entirety of a casino is the only way to prevent the harms of secondhand smoke," the letter emphasized.

ANR underscores the paramount importance of prioritizing the health and well-being of student-athletes and fans, particularly with Las Vegas poised to host its inaugural Final Four in 2028.

"By prioritizing the health and well-being of participants and spectators, Mountain West can set a precedent for other sporting organizations and contribute to the creation of healthier communities nationwide," the letter concluded.

Read the entire letter

More and more casinos nationwide are going smokefree, including Park MGM on the Las Vegas Strip. At least 160 sovereign Tribal gaming venues have implemented 100% smokefree policies during COVID-19, 23 states require commercial casinos to be smokefree indoors, and more than 1,000 gaming properties do not permit smoking indoors.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found adult cigarette smoking rates in the U.S. dropped to an all-time low, with only 1 in 9 adults saying they were current smokers. The CDC also notes on secondhand smoke, “there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke (SHS); even brief exposure can cause immediate harm.

Ventilation systems are not the answer, according to the engineers who design such systems and collectively make up the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). “[Ventilation systems] are not effective against secondhand smoke” and “can reduce only odor and discomfort, but cannot eliminate exposure,” reads their report. “There is no currently available or reasonably anticipated ventilation or air-cleaning system that can adequately control or significantly reduce the health risks of [environmental tobacco smoke] to an acceptable level.”

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 and