Most countries in the European Union have strict legislature that bans smoking in public and harsh penalties for those that violate this law. Romania just recently became that 18th country in the European Union to roll out a blanket smoking ban which came into effect on the 16th of March.
The Romanian government has debated the possibility of implementing a blanket smoking ban from 2011, and since then has gone on to tighten its anti-smoking laws. Late last year, the government made it clear that it would roll out a blanket ban which would include playgrounds, bars, restaurants, casinos and workplaces. The new law also bans the sale of tobacco related products in any educational, state run and private establishments.
There are currently around 19.5 million people who live in Romania and more than quarter of all adults smoke. However more than seventy five percent of all adults in Romania say they are happy with the no smoking ban.
While the no smoking ban will be beneficial to the health of Romanians people and the environment, the casino industry in the country remain concerned that the no smoking ban could have a negative impact and significantly reduce their gaming revenues. Casinos are worried that the ban would make it difficult for their patrons to remain longer at the gaming tables and therefore impact the amount of money they spend at the casinos.
In a statement, Violeta Radoi, executive director of ROMSLOT, which is the country’s slot organizers association, said “European experience has shown that in other countries, banning smoking in the halls of game had serious repercussions on revenue of operators, which have fallen by 30 to 40 percent, although the law was not as tough as in our case.”
ROMSLOT points out that even though countries like Sweden, Italy, Belgium and Austria have imposed smoking bans in the country, they permit gambling establishments to allow smoking on their premises. ROMSLOT wants the Romanian government to amend the new laws so that casinos can allow their patrons to smoke in their establishments.
The new anti-smoking law currently allows only two exceptions to the blanket smoking ban and that is for special smoking rooms which can operate inside airports and for prison areas that come under maximum security. Any establishments found violating the anti-smoking law will be subjected to harsh penalties and could have their operating license revoked.
The casino industry in Romania currently generates around €600 million in gambling taxes and ROMSLOT has cautioned the government that the smoking ban could significantly reduce the amount of gambling taxes that the casino industry generates this year.