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Researchers from the Nevada School of Medicine have received a $2.3 million federal grant to conduct the first clinical study into how second-hand smoke affects casino dealers.

 

“We are very excited,” said Chris Pritsos, chairman of the University of Nevada, Reno’s Department of Nutrition and the lead researcher on the project. “The findings will be important for the state, given the number of people employed by casinos.”

 

Pritsos conducted a preliminary study in 1997 that determined anti-oxidant vitamin supplements might provide some protection against second-hand smoke. The new study will be a continuation of the earlier research.

 

“This study could create a database that we could mine again and again for information,” said Dr. Jim Christensen, an allergy and asthma specialist and member of the Clark County Health District’s board. “We could wind up with a powerful tool for studying lung ailments, cancer rates, heart disease and a myriad of other health problems associated with second-hand smoke.”

 

A study published last month in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found Nevada had the fewest smoke-free work environments in the country. Nevada has most adult smokers in the nation, and also the highest rate of asthma and deaths from smoking related illnesses. Casinos and hotels employ 25 percent of the Clark County work force.

 

Pritsos’ grant was awarded by the National Institutes of Health, and the research project is the first major study into the effects of workplace exposure to environmental tobacco smoke.

 

Researchers are looking for 375 nonsmoking casino dealers to participate in a four-year clinical trial. Blood samples will be used to determine levels of environmental tobacco smoke exposure, as well as cancer and cardiovascular risk factors, Pritsos said.

 

The workers in the new study will be divided into three control groups. One group will take daily doses of vitamins and the mineral selenium while the second group takes lower doses of the same supplements. The third group will receive placebos.

 

Second-hand smoke kills nearly 400 people in Clark County each year, said Robin Camacho, spokeswoman for the American Heart Association’s Las Vegas office. More than 60,000 nonsmoking Americans die each year from illnesses related to second-hand smoke, including heart disease and lung cancer, Camacho said.

 

Camacho said she hoped Pritsos’ study would encourage the best online casino singapore

 

  – gaming industry to stop viewing smoking as essential to casino profits.

 

“Tobacco lobbyists wield powerful influence, and the public needs to be aware that our state does nothing to protect these casino workers from second-hand smoke,” Camacho said Wednesday.

 

Several casino workers have filed a class action suit against the tobacco industry claiming illnesses from exposure to second-hand smoke. A federal judge tossed out the suit in July, stating there were too many individual factors for a class action suit. That decision has been appealed.

 

Sachiko St. Jeor, director of the Nutrition Education & Research Program at the School of Medicine, and Dr. Michael Pelton, a professor of internal medicine, will collaborate with Pritsos.

 

Wilmer Brennan
Wilmer Brennan
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