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Smokefree Legislation helps Problem Gamblers

Smokefree Legislation helps Problem Gamblers

Media Release: Friday 20th May 2005

“Smoke-free legislation that assists smokers and gamblers should be applauded rather than knocked,” says John Stansfield, CEO of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF) and Becky Freeman, Director of Action on Smoking and Health of New Zealand (ASH).

“The purpose of this legislation is to limit the harms of smoking within eating, drinking and gambling venues, with the additional bonus of breaking the trance problem gamblers can enter while on the pokies,” says Mr Stansfield.

“SkyCity should concentrate on the good that comes with less problem gambling as a result of the smoke-free legislation,” he says.

“Before December 10th a murky haze choked non-smokers and casinos workers. Smokers are now taking breaks away from the gambling machines to smoke outside and the air inside is clear. Workers are protected from poisonous second-hand smoke and smokers walk home with more money in their pockets. This money then helps to support families, communities, and the economy,” says Ms Freeman

Australian research shows that smoke-free legislation helps problem gamblers spend less time and money in the pokies, and reduces the amount of problem gambling. While profits have decreased with the introduction of smoke-free legislation, it is only a temporary decrease. Overseas trends predict that profits will increase again in approximately seven months time. SkyCity’s recent drop in profit proves the legislation has worked.

Freeman feels little sympathy for casinos that are crying foul over the smoke-free legislation, "The health and well being of families must surely be given priority over casino profits. Smokers are taking more breaks away from gambling machines which means they go home with more money in their pockets."

Research clearly shows that those who can least afford to smoke and gamble are the ones who do so the most. The smoke-free law means that smokers now take frequent breaks away from the gaming machines. Time away from the machine means more money will stay in the family bank accounts rather than making its way into the casino coffers.

“It is better for SkyCity to deal with a temporary decrease in profits than be responsible for a permanent destruction in lives through problem gambling and smoking,” says Mr Stansfield.


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